The Character of Nastasya in Dostoyevsky's The Idiot

Powerful Essays
The Powerful Character of Nastasya in The Idiot

Few of the principal characters in Dostoyevsky's novels are female. However, in his novel, The Idiot, we find one of his strongest female characters. Nastasya Filippovna, a proud, yet exploited woman, is by far one of Dostoyevsky's most intriguing characters. She has an instantaneous and dramatic affect on the characters surrounding her. Nastasya Filippovna has been systematically destroyed by her surroundings. She finds she is unable to survive in the society of her time. Valued by men only for her beauty or her possessions, feared by jealous women, Nastasya Filippovna succumbs to insanity and finally, her own murder. Believing herself to be guilty and in need of punishment and purification, Nastasya Filippovna fights yet, finally, submits herself to destructive forces that surround her.

Nastasya Filippovna, defined by her sensual beauty and remarkable looks, is already mentioned by page ten. Her presence remains strong throughout Book One and we may learn a great deal from this section about the proud Nastasya Filippovna. The most dominant feature of Nastasya Filippovna is her beauty. Even the Prince, who at first we may believe is not inclined to notice sensuality of women, is overwhelmed by her great beauty. Looking at her picture he calls her"astonishingly pretty"; he notes her"exquisite simplicity", her "dark, deep eyes" (31). Even from her youth Nastasya Filippovna's beauty has caused her to become the object of men's sexual desires. There are three men who are particularly dominant in Nastasya Filippovna's life prior to the arrival of the Prince: Afansy Ivanovich Totsky, Gavrila Ardalionovich (Ganya), and Parfion Semyyonovich Rogozhin.

Totsky is the fi...

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... it" (480). Nastasya Filippovna must die to escape the tragic and unjust plight of a woman scorned.

Works Cited

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Idiot, Middlesex, Penguin Books Ltd., 1955.

Roger B. Anderson, Dostoyevsky - Myths of Duality, Florida: University of Florida Press, 1986.

Michael Holquist, Dostoyevsky and the Novel, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977.

Robert Louis Jackson, Dostoyevsky's Quest for Form - A Study of his Philosophy of Art, New Haven: Yale University, 1966.

Gary Soul Morson, The Boundaries of Genre - Dostoyevsky's Diary of a Writer and the Traditions of Literary Utopia.

Joseph Frank, Dostoyevsky - The Miraculous Years 1865 - 1871, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995.

Robert Louis Jackson, Dostoyevsky's Quest for Form - A Study of his Philosophy of Art, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966, p. 40.
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