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Nihilism in Turgenev's Fathers and Sons has several characters that hold strong views of the world.

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Introduction

Nihilism in Turgenev's Fathers and Sons has several characters that hold strong views of the world. For example, Pavel believes that Russia needs structure from such things as institution, religion, and class hierarchy. On the other hand, Madame Odintzov views the world as simple so long as she keeps it systematic and free from interference. This commentary will focus on perhaps the most interesting and complex character in Fathers and Sons: Bazarov. Vladimir Nabakov writes that "Turgenev takes his creature [B] out of a self-imposed pattern and places him in the normal world of chance." By examining Bazarov I will attempt to make sense of this statement. Using nihilism as a starting point I am going look at Bazarov's views and interpretations of science, government and institution. Next I will turn to the issue relationships and finally I will examine Bazarov's death and the stunning truths it reveals. These issues combined with the theme of nihilism will prove that chance, or fate is a strong force which cannot easily be negated. Nihilism as a concept is used throughout Fathers and Sons. To gain a better understanding of the ideas behind this term let's look at what Bazarov says on the subject. "We base our conduct on what we recognize as useful... ...read more.

Middle

Logic is of no use Bazarov, "You don't need logic, I suppose, to put a piece of bread in your mouth" (123). The nihilist agenda, that is, the need for the destruction of structure is beyond logic and is as necessary as eating or breathing. In addition Bazarov believes that what is preached by politicians and so-called leaders is itself without logic. "Aristocraticism, liberalism, progress, principles - think of it, what a lot of foreign words ... and useless words!" (123). It is easy for Bazarov to give no credence and thus negate the things which government deems important in society. He sees irrelevance in much of what is said and done by leaders and Bazarov believes that real issues are being avoided. "We saw that our clever men, our so-called progressives and reformers never accomplished anything, that we were concerning ourselves with a lot of nonsense, discussing art, unconscious creative work, parliamentarianism, the bar, and the devil knows what, while all the time the real question was getting daily bread to eat ... when our industrial enterprises come to grief solely for want of honest man at the top" (126). Bazarov's nihilistic nature is a product of the corruption he sees in the nation. Bazarov could choose to live his life and pretend not to be aware of the evils around him. ...read more.

Conclusion

He seems to realize that Russia is not ready to accept his ideas and meets fate with unusual acceptance. When Bazarov falls ill he doesn't stamp his feet or grind his teeth, he merely says, "It's a fortuitous circumstance, and, to tell you the truth, a very unpleasant one" (281). It's of little use for Bazarov to deceive himself into thinking he can negate fate. "Yes, just try and set death aside. It sets you aside, and thats the end of it!" (283). Bazarov, the great nihilist of Russia encounters the strongest negation of all - death. Nihilism as an idea has the potential to create a lot of change. By relinquishing all forms of authority, institution and convention of value so that subordination, normality, rules and laws no longer exist, would cause a radically different perception of social conduct and responsibility. Bazarov, by being a nihilist, brings this into existence. Negation however does have its limits. As Bazarov discovers, there are some things which defy negation. If by chance one falls in love, the sword of negation meets heavy armour. The strength of a nihilist resides in his or her mind. The action potential is in the strength of conviction to these principles. But the overall power of ones ability to destroy is in no way a match for the supremacy of fate - negation in the form of death. ...read more.

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