Under The Western Eyes Analysis

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 584 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Mar 16, 2024

Words: 584|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Mar 16, 2024

Table of contents

  1. The Western Gaze and Cultural Hegemony
  2. Resistance and Subversion
  3. Conclusion

Under the Western Eyes is a literary work by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky, which was first published in 1866. The novel explores the complex themes of cultural identity, power dynamics, and the impact of Western influence on Russian society. In this essay, I will analyze the novel from a postcolonial perspective, examining how the characters' experiences and interactions are shaped by the lens of Western scrutiny. Through a close reading of the text and drawing on secondary sources, I will argue that Under the Western Eyes offers a powerful critique of the Western gaze and its effects on the colonized subject.

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The Western Gaze and Cultural Hegemony

In Under the Western Eyes, Dostoevsky portrays the Russian characters as being constantly aware of the Western gaze, which imposes a sense of inferiority and self-consciousness upon them. This is exemplified in the character of Razumikhin, who is acutely conscious of his status as a Russian in the eyes of the Westerners he encounters. This reflects the concept of cultural hegemony, as described by the Marxist thinker Antonio Gramsci, whereby the dominant culture exerts its influence over subordinate cultures through the dissemination of its values and norms. The Western gaze in the novel thus serves as a tool of cultural hegemony, reinforcing the superiority of Western culture and marginalizing the Russian characters.

Furthermore, the Western gaze in Under the Western Eyes is not merely a passive observation, but an active force that shapes the behavior and self-perception of the Russian characters. This is evident in the character of Kirillov, who internalizes the Western gaze to the point of self-hatred, leading to his eventual suicide. This tragic outcome underscores the destructive power of the Western gaze, as it drives Kirillov to a state of despair and alienation. This aligns with the postcolonial theorist Frantz Fanon's concept of internalized colonialism, whereby the colonized subject adopts the values and attitudes of the colonizer, leading to a sense of self-alienation and internal conflict.

Resistance and Subversion

Despite the pervasive influence of the Western gaze, Dostoevsky also portrays moments of resistance and subversion among the Russian characters. For instance, the character of Natasha asserts her agency and challenges the Western gaze through her actions, refusing to conform to the expectations imposed upon her. This can be seen as a form of cultural resistance, as described by the postcolonial scholar Homi Bhabha, whereby the colonized subject asserts their own cultural identity in defiance of colonial norms.

Additionally, Dostoevsky explores the theme of subversion through the character of Stepan Trofimovich, who engages in intellectual discourse and challenges the hegemonic narratives imposed by the Western gaze. This reflects the postcolonial concept of counter-discourse, as articulated by the theorist Edward Said, whereby the colonized subject seeks to challenge and reframe dominant narratives through alternative forms of knowledge production.

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Under the Western Eyes offers a compelling critique of the Western gaze and its impact on the colonized subject. Through the lens of postcolonial theory, we can understand the novel as a complex exploration of cultural hegemony, internalized colonialism, resistance, and subversion. By analyzing the text in this way, we can gain a deeper understanding of the power dynamics at play and the ways in which the characters navigate the complexities of the Western gaze. Ultimately, Under the Western Eyes invites us to reflect on the enduring relevance of these themes in our contemporary world, where the legacy of colonialism continues to shape global dynamics and individual experiences.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Under The Western Eyes Analysis. (2024, March 15). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 13, 2024, from
“Under The Western Eyes Analysis.” GradesFixer, 15 Mar. 2024,
Under The Western Eyes Analysis. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 13 Jul. 2024].
Under The Western Eyes Analysis [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 15 [cited 2024 Jul 13]. Available from:
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