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Encyclopedia > A Gentle Creature

A Gentle Creature, sometimes also translated as The Meek One, is a short story written by Fyodor Dostoevsky in 1876. The piece comes with the subtitle of "A Fantastic Story," and it chronicles the relationship between a pawnbroker and a girl that frequents his shop. Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky (Russian: Фёдор Миха́йлович Достое́вский, Fëdor Mihajlovič Dostoevskij, sometimes transliterated Dostoyevsky ) (November 11 [O.S. October 30] 1821 – February 9 [O.S. January 28] 1881) is considered one of the greatest Russian writers, whose works have had a profound and lasting effect on twentieth-century fiction. ... 1876 (MDCCCLXXVI) was a leap year starting on Saturday. ...


The story opens with the narrator in a frenzy about an apparent tragedy that has just befallen his household. His wife has apparently died, as he makes repeated references to her being laid out on a table, presumably lifeless. The narrator proceeds to make an attempt to relate the story to the reader in an effort to make sense of the situation.

The narrator is the owner of a pawnshop, and one of his repeated customers was a young girl of sixteen who always pawns items to earn money to advertise as a governess in the newspaper. The narrator could see that she was in a dire financial situation, and he often gave her much more for her pawned items than they were reasonably worth. The narrator slowly develops an interest in the girl, and his interest seems at least marginally returned.

The narrator investigates the girl's background, and finds that she us at the mercy of two greedy aunts. The aunts were arranging her marriage to a fat shopkeeper. Once the shopkeeper proposed marriage to the girl, the narrator countered with his own proposal. The girl decided, after much deliberation, to marry the narrator.

The narrator's marriage started out cordially enough, but his miserly ways were taxing to his young wife. A dearth of communication and disagreements about how the pawnshop should be run eventually resulted in arguments, ending with the narrator's wife storming out of the house. She came back of course, having no where else to go.

The narrator's wife makes a habit of leaving during the day, and eventually it is discovered that she is visiting Efimovich, a member of the narrator's former regiment. The narrator's wife eventually confronts the narrator with the details she learned from Efimovich - details about the narrator's shameful departure from his regiment. The narrator is unfazed, and his wife continues her visits to Efimovich. One time, the narrator follows his wife to Efimovich, bringing a revolver. He listens in delight to a verbal duel between his wife and Efimovich, and eventually he bursts in and reclaims his wife.

The narrator and his wife return home. They retire for the night separately. In the morning, the narrator opens his eyes to see that his wife is standing over him with the revolver pointed at his temple. He simply closes his eyes again, and he is convinced that he conquered her with his readiness to accept death. She doesn't shoot, and the narrator buys her a separate bed that day. That same day she also contracts brain fever.

The narrator spares no expense for his wife's medical care, and she slowly recovers. Throughout the entire winter the narrator watches his wife furtively, and a watershed moment happens when she begins to sing in his presence. The narrator kisses his wife's feet and promises to be a changed man. He recounts the story of his shame in the regiment, and he promises to take her to Boulogne. Several days later the narrator leaves the house to make arrangements for passports. Boulogne is the name of several communes in France: Boulogne in the Vendée département Boulogne-Billancourt, in the Hauts-de-Seine département Boulogne-sur-Mer, in the Pas_de_Calais département This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share...

When the narrator returns home, he is met with a crowd of people outside his house. His wife had committed suicide - she had jumped out of the window while holding an icon. The narrator was convinced he was only five minutes too late, even though it was ultimately his narcissistic love that drove his gentle wife to suicide. Suicide (from Latin sui caedere, to kill oneself) is the act of willfully ending ones own life. ...


  • Magarshack, David, The Best Stories of Fyodor Dostoevsky, (New York: The Modern Library, 2005), xi-xxvi.

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky (Russian: Фёдор Миха́йлович Достое́вский, Fëdor Mihajlovič Dostoevskij, sometimes transliterated Dostoyevsky ) (November 11 [O.S. October 30] 1821 – February 9 [O.S. January 28] 1881) is considered one of the greatest Russian writers, whose works have had a profound and lasting effect on twentieth-century fiction. ... Poor Folk was first novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky, which he wrote over the span of nine months. ... The Village of Stepanchikovo is a book written by Fyodor Dostoevsky and first published in 1859. ... The Insulted and Humiliated (also known as The Insulted and the Injured) is a novella by Fyodor Dostoevsky, first published in 1861, is a book about the huge contradictions present in life. ... The House of the Dead is a novel published in 1862 by Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky. ... This article does not cite its references or sources. ... Notes from Underground (also translated in English as Notes from the Underground or Letters from the Underworld) (1864) is a short novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky. ... Crime and Punishment (Russian: Преступление и наказание) is a novel written by Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky. ... The Gambler is a novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky about a youngish tutor in the employment of a formerly wealthy Russian civil servant. ... Pevear and Volokhonsky translation of The Idiot The Idiot is a novel written by the Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky in 1869. ... Pevear and Volokhonsky translation of Demons The Devils, also translated as Demons or The Possessed, is a 1872 novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky. ... The Raw Youth or The Adolescent (Russian: Подросток), is a novel of Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky. ... Pevear & Volokhonsky Translation of The Brothers Karamazov. ... White Nights is a short story written by Fyodor Dostoevsky, originally published in 1848. ... A Christmas Tree and a Wedding is a short story by Dostoevsky. ... An Honest Thief is an 1848 short story by Dostoevsky. ... The Grand Inquisitor is a parable told by Ivan to Alyosha in Fyodor Dostoevskys philosophical novel, The Brothers Karamazov (1879-1880). ... Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov (Russian: Родион Романович Раскольников) is the protagonist of Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky. ...

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