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The Idiot

Fyodor Dostoevsky

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full title ·  The Idiot

author · Fyodor Dostoevsky

type of work · Novel

genre · Aristocratic drama; character study; tragedy

language · Russian

time and place written · 1867–1869; Europe (Baden, Dresden, Geneva, Milan, Florence)

date of first publication · 1868–1869 in several issues of the Russian Messenger

publisher · Katkov

narrator · Anonymous narrator; loses his omniscience as the novel progresses

point of view · Third person, selectively omniscient

tone · At times removed but usually psychologically intense

tense · Past

setting (time) · 1860s

setting (place) · Primarily St. Petersburg and Pavlovsk; interludes in and references to Yekaterinhof, Moscow, and Switzerland

protagonist · Prince Lev Nikolayevich Myshkin

major conflict · Myshkin is torn between his romantic love for Aglaya Yepanchin and his compassionate love for Nastassya Filippovna

rising action · Myshkin proposes to Nastassya Filippovna; he realizes he does not love her; she leaves him for Rogozhin; Myshkin proposes to Aglaya

climax · The meeting of Aglaya and Nastassya Filippovna

falling action · Aglaya runs away and breaks all relations with Myshkin, who almost marries Nastassya Filippovna; Rogozhin kills Nastassya Filippovna; he and the Prince keep vigil next to her dead body

themes · The ideal human being; the clash between good and the real world; Russian Christianity and redemption

motifs · Beauty; light and dark; love

symbols · Money; Rogozhin's house; the monster in Hippolite's dream

foreshadowing · Myshkin says that if Rogozhin does marry Nastassya Filippovna, Rogozhin will likely kill her

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