Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Readalong: The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky Post 4

I am participating in the readalong for The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky, hosted by A Literary Odyssey. This is the fourth post of 4 total posts, it covers Part 4 in The Idiot. My previous posts can be found here: First Post Second Post Third Post

I stayed up late last night to finish The Idiot. The end of The Idiot certainly reaches a climax where all of the characters seem to run around like chickens with their heads cut off. They accuse each other of being scandalous or attention-seeking and refuse to listen to each other, preferring to live with their own views of the events around them.

Prince Myshkin is caught between two women, Nastasya Filippovna and Aglaia Epanchin. They both want him and make claims on him, which he tries to please. The Prince is far too good-hearted and/or simple to realize that he needs to make his own decision for his life and stick with it. Instead, at the critical moment in this love triangle, he falls short and stays to take care of Nastasya instead of rushing after Aglaia, whom he actually cares for. This split-moment decision really decides the fate for these three unhappy characters, as well as the surrounding characters.

Dostoevsky gives an unhappy ending to each of these characters, which I'll leave for you to read yourself, but I'm not really sure what the point is that he's trying to make with their fates. Is it their modern society/focus on money that leads them to destruction? Is it the prince's goodness that destroys them- perhaps connecting their fates to that of Jesus' in Holbein's painting that Dostoevsky mentions several times. And what is the point of Rogozhin's character and actions? He plays the pivotal action in Nastaya's fate but I'm still a little unclear as to why this was necessary? I just don't understand Rogozhin at all- is he (and everyone else) just crazy?!

I liked this story by Dostoevsky for the analysis of the characters and the story, which is actually pretty simply, that it told. The characters are definitely Dostoevsky's strong point. As I pointed out in post 3, I believe that Dostoevsky is amazing at portraying madness and despair. However, there were a few things that I did not like; for example, characters often went off in tangents during their conversations that, I assume, were Dostoevsky's own thoughts but that did not often lend anything to the story. I enjoyed some of these views in the beginning of the story that were about execution and exile of prisoners because I knew that it directly related to Dostoevsky's own life, but later on the views got to be tedious and I didn't know why I was reading them.

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