Analysis

The visit to Rogozhin's house further characterizes Rogozhin, explains his relationship with Nastassya Filippovna, and develops his relationship between the prince. Rogozhin's house mirrors its owner and his lifestyle. It is dark and dismal, and the windows have iron bars. The house is painted a dirty green color, while the walls inside are red. Indeed, dirt is frequently associated with Rogozhin, while red is the color of blood—a foreshadowing of Rogozhin's violence. Red is also present in Rogozhin's study: his bed is covered by a red morocco. On the whole, everything about Rogozhin's house is dark, heavy, and stifling. Analogously, his lifestyle is characterized by associating with crooks and drunks. His love for Nastassya Filippovna is a violent passion through which he wishes to possess her. In this respect, it is just as stifling as the iron bars on the windows. Myshkin is perceptive, noting the similarity between the house and its owner; he remarks that this is exactly what Rogozhin's house should be like and that this is how he imagined it.

The conversation between Rogozhin and Myshkin's develops the contrast between their respective loves for Nastassya Filippovna. While Rogozhin's love is passion and destruction, the prince's love is pity and compassion. Myshkin is afraid that if Rogozhin and Nastassya Filippovna ever got married, Rogozhin would kill her; he already beat her once. After all the suffering she has caused him, he will not forgive her. Rogozhin's love is almost like hatred—and he himself does not deny this characterization of his affection. Indeed, he goes so far as to reply that it is precisely because his love is destructive that Nastassya Filippovna wishes to marry him. Although she loves the Prince, she does not think that she deserves him nor does she want to ruin his life by a marriage with a "fallen woman." In addition, because she realizes that marrying Rogozhin is equivalent to suicide, she can never go through with it. She runs to the prince just before the wedding, but then returns to Rogozhin later. Much like Madame du Barry from the previous chapter, who begs for one last moment before being guillotined, Nastassya Filippovna asks for one last moment of life when she runs away from Rogozhin to the Prince.

Despite their many differences, Myshkin and Rogozhin feel a sort of affinity towards one another. Rogozhin admits that when they are not together, he begins hating the prince, but as soon as they are together, the hatred disappears. Much like Nastassya Filippovna, who seeks salvation from destruction by going to the prince, Rogozhin wishes the prince could save him from destructiveness. He exchanges crosses with Myshkin and even takes him to his mother. However, once the prince leaves and Rogozhin sees him near Nastassya Filippovna's house, he goes to the hotel with the intention of killing the prince. Ultimately, we see that Myshkin's goodness is unable to save Rogozhin from committing a sin.

The prince's timely epileptic fit prevents the murder. Chapter 5 is the first time in the novel when Myshkin describes his illness and then suffers an actual fit. He says that an attack is characterized by a momentary feeling of complete clarity of mind and an almost sublime understanding of life and its purpose. This moment is quickly followed by utter darkness. Before his fit, Myshkin wanders about the city. Mirroring his physical wandering, his mind wanders from subject to subject. The narrative becomes a sort of stream of consciousness for the prince's; we experience his thought process and feelings just before and during the epileptic fit. Because the narrator merges with Myshkin's consciousness, we learn little about the reason for the fit. The prince cannot himself clearly explain it, aside from a few vague remarks about him questioning his blame for the fate of Nastassya Filippovna. As we continue reading the novel, we must attempt to identify the immediate causes of the prince's attacks and the significance of epilepsy for his character.