Violence, Hatred, and Pain in Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Idiot

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Violence, Hatred, and Pain in Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Idiot

"There was a look of unbounded pride and contempt, almost hatred, in that face, and at the same time something confiding, something wonderfully simplehearted." There began Prince Myshkin's curiosity of and infatuation with the complex Nastasya Filippovna as he sat in awe of this woman's picture in Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Idiot . This story, set in Russia during the late 1860's, is one of continuous love rivalries which describe the life of the Russian aristocracy during that time period.

Prince Myshkin is described as the "ideal" man due to his compassion for everyone and his firm belief that there is a good side to all people. The story begins as Myshkin returns to Petersburg after a stay in a Swiss mental hospital for his epilepsy. Upon arrival in Russia, he visits distant relatives who are quite receptive to him and he ends up staying for a while. While there, he believes he has fallen in love with Nastasya Filippovna and prematurely proposes to her. She first accepts, but then rejects him. Nastasya is the driving force behind the novel and carries the reader, as well as the characters, from scene to scene.

The duration of the book consists of Myshkin's quest for happiness and love through which he encounters jealousy for his love and for the love of those who love him. Unfortunately, the tragic end to this book, including the predicted death of Nastasya, causes Myshkin to regress to his former epileptic state.

The time directly following Myshkin's first proposal to Nastasya stands out as an extremely memorable moment in the book. At Nastasya's birthday party, several men bring money and begin bidding on her hand in marriage. Eventually, she announces to everyone that she wants to alter her lifestyle and start over as a poor woman. Any man who cannot accept her for who she is, she decides, is not the right man for her. She feels that all men are motivated by greed and that the men will not want her for love, only greed.

Myshkin feels that he can love Nastasya for who she is and not for her money and so he proposes to her. She immediately accepts and shocks the rest of the party. One of the other suitors, Rogozhin, offers to give up everything he has for Nastasya and Myshkin encourages her to accept his offer because this sacrifice shows that he truly loves Nastasya.
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