Alexei in Dostoevsky’s “The Gambler”

The literary character that I most readily identify with would be Dostoevsky’s Alexei, The Gambler. I can relate to him because like me, he is a man of many passions. He is also all but helpless against his addiction to gambling. I have also felt helpless to certain circumstances in my life, as have we all. He is capable of much more than what his society allows him to be. That is to say he may be a lowly tutor, but he care’s about justice and the atrocities committed by the “high-born” class.

I, through faults of my own and Injustices of my school’s administration, also was limited, as Alexei was as to what people thought of me and how they treated me. Alexei was torn between his love of gambling and his love of a woman who did not return his love. He felt passionately about things that he did, even if he got into trouble over them. He knew that what he thought was right was often in stark contrast to what his society deemed proper. He disagreed with the social hierarchy of Russia and paid the penalty.

He may have paid a penalty for standing by what he thought was right, but he knew inside that he was doing he right thing. However, he did not receive any joy from this realization. He was relatively miserable his whole life. He turned to Gambling to punish himself. This is a man who, when he had a chance to be with the woman he had loved for years, ruined it by going to the casino and gambling. He thought that it would prove to her that he loved her, because he would have a lot of money to spend on her. Instead, she realized that his one true love was not her but gambling.

Whenever I read this story, I think of how much this character that Fyodor Dostoevsky created is similar, in a lot of ways, to myself. I find myself the object of addictions in general. I used to smoke cigarettes and feel helpless against it. Sure, I’d stop for a day or two here and there but once I forgot about the misery cigarettes brought me, I would light up another. I feel better now that I stopped smoking but I am scared that it won’t last. Like Alexei, I have been interested in the same girl for many years.

Just of late, something that I thought would never happen, is happening. I ave the chance to be with this girl and I think I’m messing it up. She has been my friend for many years and now it’s moved past friendship into something better and worse. Even though this is happening in the present and I know what to “look for,” I find myself powerless to the seemingly definite ruin that I feel is coming. It’s so frustrating knowing all these things and not being able to change them, or at least feeling as though you can’t change them.

In my junior year in high school, I took up a personal crusade against what I called the evil administration at my school. I repeatedly got in trouble for things I deemed acceptable but were still “against the rules. ” For instance, one morning I decided that I didn’t want to salute the flag. I was sent down to the Vice-Principal in Charge of Student Life and Discipline. He said I was there for “disrespecting the teacher. ” I said that it was my right to salute or not to salute the flag, as I pleased. He said the least I had to do was stand up.

I reluctantly agreed and it was resolved soon after. Since then, I have realized that some of the things I did were immature. But, I do not regret the things that I’ve done. People teach us to stand by what we believe in, but in the next breath label and blacklist the people who do, just because it goes against what they deem proper. Since my junior year, I feel I have grown up a lot. I no longer battle the administration but work with the administration to help the homeless and battle poverty. This is where Alexei and myself differ. He ended up gambling and fighting to break even’ his whole life.

In conclusion, the timeless themes created by Dostoevsky in The Gambler nd brought out by the protagonist Alexei, have made me aware that I am not a freak. I’m not the only one feeling the way I do. Alexei’s passion’s in life- writing, gambling, and Paulina- are similar to my own. I also challenge the social hierarchy in much the same way that he did. As it turns out, people from different ethnic, social, and religious backgrounds are not as different as some people would like to think. A tutor from 1860’s Russia can be similar, in many respects, to a middle class white adolescent in America some 130+ years later.

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