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Main page » Fiction literature » The Gambler by Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Gambler by Fyodor Dostoevsky


The first-person narrative is told from the point of view of Alexei Ivanovich, a tutor working for a Russian family living in a suite at a German hotel. The patriarch of the family, The General, is indebted to the Frenchman De Grieux and has mortgaged his property in Russia to pay only a small amount of his debt. Upon learning of the illness of his wealthy aunt, "Grandmother", he sends streams of telegrams to Moscow and awaits the news of her demise. His expected inheritance will pay his debts and gain Madamoiselle De Cominges's hand in marriage.

Alexei is hopelessly in love with Polina and swears an oath of servitude to her. He told her while on a walk on the mountain that all she had to do was give the word and he would gladly walk off the edge and plummet to his death. This leads to her asking him to go to the town's casino and place a bet for her. He refuses at first but, when goaded and reminded of his oath of undying love and servility, he succumbs and ends up winning at the roulette table (this was his first experience with the narcotic bliss of gambling). He returns to her the winnings but she will not tell him the reason she needs money. She only laughs in his face (as she does when he professes his love) and treats him with cold indifference, if not downright malice. He only learns the details of The General's and Polina's financial state later in the story through his long-time acquaintance, Mr. Astley. Astley is a shy Englishman who seems to share Alexei's fondness of Polina. He comes from English nobility and has a good deal of money.

One day while Polina and Alexei are on a walk they see a Baron and Baroness. Polina dares him to insult the Aristocratic couple and he does so with little hesitation. This sets off a chain of events…

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Tags: Dostoevsky, Gambler, gambling, debts, rights, Gambler, Dostoevsky, secondary, characters, despair