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Arcady: His Voyage Towards Individualism In the novel
Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev, Arcady plays a major
role both in his own life and the lives of others. Arcady,
despite the shield he surrounds himself with, is not a true
Nihilist like his friend Bazarov through his thoughts and
actions we see his change. To begin, Arcady shows signs of
Romanticism Early on in the novel despite the announcement
of his Nihilist beliefs. For example, Bazarov and Arcady
were walking one afternoon in the garden and overheard
Nicholas playing his cello. "At that instant the lingering notes
of a ?cello were wafted towards them from the house . . .
and, like honey, the melody flowed through the air" (49).
Like a true Nihilist, Bazarov immediately denounced the act
of playing music as a purely romantic institution. "Good
Lord! At forty-four, a pater familias, in the province of X,
playing the ?cello! Bazarov continued to laugh: but, on this
occasion, Arcady, though he venerated his mentor, did not
even smile" (50). By this we see that although Arcady looks
up to Bazarov, he truly does not uphold the Nihilist beliefs as
strongly or as strictly. His acceptance of his father’s cello
playing shows that Arcady, unlike Bazarov. does not find
music a purely romantic institution, but an enjoyable way ! to
be merry. Also this incident shows us that Arcady does not
like when others poke fun at his family. Here, he obviously
does not think his father’s cello playing is a laughing matter.
Secondly, Nihilist ideas included the belief that love is
outdated. Arcady went against this belief when he fell in love
with Anna Sergeyevna and later, her sister Katya. Arcady
even went so far as to tell Katya, in his own way, that he
truly loved her. "It may be all the same to you, but I should
like to state that, far from having any preference for your
sister, I wouldn’t exchange you for anyone else in the world"
(174). Bazarov also fell in love with Anna Sergeyevna but
realized that she would not love him back. " ?I must tell you
that I love you stupidly, madly . . . . You have forced me.
Now you know.’ Madame Odintzov was filled with fear as
well as a feeling of compassion for him. But she at once
disengaged herself from his embrace an instant later she was
already standing distantly in the corner and gazing at him.
?You misunderstood me,’ she whispered hastily in alarm.
She looked as though she might scream if he took another
step (108)." And so, he retur! ned to his Nihilist beliefs.
Arcady’s falling in love with Katya and his proposal to her
was his second step towards becoming an individual. It
showed that he no longer followed Bazarov like an
impressionable child would an older sibling. He now began
to make large decisions on his own which affected his life in
a big way. Arcady, through his understanding of Bazarov’s
arrogance, took his third and final step towards becoming
his own person. "It is not for the gods to glaze pottery . . . .
Only now, at this very instant, was the whole bottomless pit
of Bazarov’s arrogance and pride revealed to him. ?So you
and I are gods? Or rather, you are a god and I’m a mere
lout, isn’t that so?’ ?Yes,’ Bazarov repeated firmly. ? You’re
still stupid.’" (112). Not only does this remark allow Arcady
to see that Bazarov had never considered him an equal, but
also that Bazarov believed himself a god dwelling above all
others. This prompted Arcady to reconsider his relationship
with Bazarov. He realized they were never friends, but only
mere traveling companions on the road of life. Arcady
seemed to realize also that he was never a pure and true
Nihilist. He had been drawn into that particular way of
thinking by his mentor, Bazarov, not his willingness to uphold
Nihilism. Turgenev does a very good job in showing the
changes taking place within Arcady. His true nature is slowly
revealed throughout the book and we see his way of thinking
by reading about his actions. Arcady is truly a dynamic
character, as can be seen by his Nihilist beliefs changing into
romantic ideas. Arcady enjoys beautiful language and is also
a bit of a philosopher. For example, his description of a
falling leaf: "Look! A withered maple leaf has left its branch
and is falling to the ground its movements resemble those of
a butterfly in flight. Isn’t it strange? The saddest and deadest
of all things is yet so like the gayest and most vital of all
creatures" (134). By the conclusion of the novel, we see that
Arcady was part of the novel because he had the most
influence on others as well as on himself, and also because
he had the most to learn from life’s experiences. He has
established a life of his own. A life where he if free from
Bazarov’s hold and Nihilist ! ideas, and a life where he is
free to be himself. His voyage: completed.
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