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Darkness at Noon Revision Notes Essay

Why does Nikolai Rubashov confess to crimes against the revolution that he has not committed? What are the political options open to Rubashov following his arrest? Which option does he choose? Are the implications of the political argument in Arthur Koester’s Darkness at Noon anti-revolutionary or merely anti-Stalinist? Is Darkness at Noon an attempt to explain why the Russian Revolution in particular failed or is it an attempt to explain why all revolutions that rely on violent means to achieve their ends must fail? What is the central political argument of Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon? What are the political implications of his argument? Outline the most important differences in the political mentality of Rubashov’s interrogators- Ivanov and Gletkin?

What political options are open to Rubashov after he is arrested? Following Rubashov’s arrest Ivanov gave the option of going through a public trial by confessing to certain acts, or having a private administrative trial. Public trial:

* This could lead to the discrediting and weakening of the ideology * Rubashov held a high position within the party, and for him to be seen as a dissident would have stirred other revolutionaries * Would have made it more difficult for the party to discredit his views if Rubashov did not publically denounce himself * Doesn’t serve the revolution

* Preserves his own honour in some ways but is of no use to the greater good Confess: * Rubashov capitulates in order to serve the revolution and the party * Although he was not guilty of anything, he cannot find any reason in his own mind not to capitulate. Rubashov has been a creature of the party for his whole life, and now the party demands that he should confess * Justice and objective truth have ceased to have any meaning for him * He feels superior to his Czarist officer who inhabits the next cell, showing the differences in thought processes from a person ingrained with the party ideology versus the ‘bourgeois’ angle who would uphold his honour

* The officer believes that honour is about doing what you think is right, an individualist perspective, where as Rubashov contends that to uphold the honour of the regime/revolution is more honourable. Ideology dictates the actions of all players in the regime – citizen and state To serve the revolution, Rubashov finds it necessary to capitulate – serves the greater good – it is better to confess to crimes not committed than to risk the reputation of the revolution for his own honour – grammatical fiction: there is no I. This is a demonstration of the corruption of revolutions enacted through violent means. The means don’t justify the ends when the citizens are being overlooked – the revolution is supposed to act for the good of the people, but the ideology has become corrupted to serve the good of itself and its leader. Outline the most important differences in the political mentality of Rubashov’s interrogators- Ivanov and Gletkin?

Ivanov * He lived before the revolution, and was an intellectual who helped bring about and serve the revolution * He is not a man of violence – would prefer to persuade Rubashov rather than beat him. Coercion is a last resort for him, but if it is necessary, he believes that the ends do justify the means.

Gletkin * Gletkin is of the second generation of the revolution. He comes from a peasant background, is not an intellectual. Rubashov thinks of him as little more than a violent thug. * His political views are therefore those of the party, he accepts what is force fed to him without thinking critically about it. * He is a man of violence. He wants to beat and torture Rubashov to obtain his confession. Therefore he doesn’t believe in the idea of persuasion. However this does show that he believes the end justifies the means. * Gletkin is the culmination of what Koestler argues went wrong with the revolution – he represents totalitarian thought, and he is the kind of individual that it produces. * ‘born without an umbilical cord’


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