Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
for a group?
Get Annual Plans at a discount when you buy 2 or more!
$18.74 /subscription + tax
Subtotal $37.48 + tax
on 2-49 accounts
on 50-99 accounts
Want 100 or more?
for a customized plan.
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews September 30, 2023
September 23, 2023
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
Annual Plan - Group Discount
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
You’ve successfully purchased a group discount. Your group members can use the joining link below to redeem their group membership. You'll also receive an email with the link.
Members will be prompted to log in or create an account to redeem their group membership.
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
*See discount terms and conditions.
Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, and literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text's major themes.
Beauty surfaces in various forms in the novel. Everyone marvels at Nastassya Filippovna's beauty. Aglaya is renowned for her beauty. The Yepanchin girls mention that beauty is power. Myshkin remarks that beauty is an enigma. During the engagement party at the Yepanchins the Prince exclaims that beauty can be found in all of God's creation. Pervading the novel is a sort of spiritual beauty to the character of Prince Myshkin and to the love he displays toward all the other characters. Indeed, such beauty is an enigma because it is a feeling and, therefore, impossible to define. Significantly, by the end of The Idiot, all the examples of beauty in the novel, including Nastassya Filippovna, Aglaya, and Myshkin, are ruined.
Dostoevsky strikes a contrast between light and dark from the outset, juxtaposing descriptions of Rogozhin's dark hair and eyes with Myshkin's light hair. Practically everything that involves Rogozhin is dark—his appearance, his house, the hall in which he tries to kill Myshkin, and the study in which he kills Nastassya Filippovna. Darkness is also frequently associated with Nastassya Filippovna: she wears a dark dress at the evening party, and thinking of her makes Myshkin think of darkness. Myshkin, on the other hand, writes the letter to Aglaya as to his "light." Aglaya's name itself also means "light." The contrast between light and dark emphasizes the contrast between the goodness of the prince and the corruption of the world around him. This contrast also underlines the different effects Nastassya Filippovna and Aglaya have on Myshkin: while the former fills his soul with darkness, the latter fills it with light.
Dostoevsky gives examples of many types of love: love out of vanity, passion, romantic love, and pity. Ganya's affection for Aglaya is vain love; he is not willing to sacrifice all for it, as we see in Part I when he asks Aglaya for some kind of insurance before he is willing to break off his engagement with Nastassya Filippovna. Rogozhin's feelings toward Nastassya Filippovna exemplify all-devouring passion; this kind of love approaches hate and is very destructive, both to the lover and the object of love. Both Nastassya Filippovna and Aglaya exemplify romantic love in their feelings toward Prince Myshkin, who in return loves Aglaya with romantic love. Finally, the strongest love of all in the novel is compassionate love, or pity, embodied in Myshkin and directed particularly strongly toward Nastassya Filippovna.
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Idiot!