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The Idiot

The Idiot


by Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Idiot Compassion and forgiveness Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Part.Chapter.Paragraph)

Quote #1

When Totsky had approached the general with his request for friendly counsel as to a marriage with one of his daughters, he had made a full and candid confession. He had said that he intended to stop at no means to obtain his freedom; even if Nastasya were to promise to leave him entirely alone in future […]. So he and the general determined to try an attempt to appeal to her heart […]. [Totsky] admitted that he was to blame for all, but candidly confessed that he could not bring himself to feel any remorse for his original guilt towards herself, because he was a man of sensual passions which were inborn and ineradicable, and that he had no power over himself in this respect; but that he wished, seriously, to marry at last […]. General Epanchin took up his part and spoke in the character of father of a family; he spoke sensibly, and without wasting words over any attempt at sentimentality, he merely recorded his full admission of her right to be the arbiter of Totsky's destiny at this moment. He then pointed out that the fate of his daughter, and very likely of both his other daughters, now hung upon her reply. (1.4.23)

Wow, that's some arrogant bastardry right there—check out how Totsky does one of those politician-style apologies ("I'm so sorry that you were offended"). What does it say about Epanchin that he goes along with this without calling Totsky on it? Does this gibe with the Epanchin we see later in the novel?

Quote #2

The door opened at this point, and in came Ganya most unexpectedly.

He was not in the least disconcerted to see Varya there, but he stood a moment at the door, and then approached the prince quietly.

"Prince," he said, with feeling, "I was a blackguard. Forgive me!" His face gave evidence of suffering. The prince was considerably amazed, and did not reply at once. "Oh, come, forgive me, forgive me!" Ganya insisted, rather impatiently. "If you like, I'll kiss your hand. There!"

The prince was touched; he took Ganya's hands, and embraced him heartily, while each kissed the other.

"I never, never thought you were like that," said Muishkin, drawing a deep breath. "I thought you—you weren't capable of—"

"Of what? Apologizing, eh? And where on earth did I get the idea that you were an idiot? You always observe what other people pass by unnoticed; one could talk sense to you, but—" (1.11.22-27)

This is a pretty good window into Ganya's soul, no? Sure he's a jerk who punches his sister. The reason he isn't a successful jerk like Totsky though, is that he can't help but give in to the tiny better part of his nature every now and again. This is also why he can't bring himself to marry Nastasya, or make a serious play for Aglaya.

Quote #3

"I assure you I am not a thief, and yet I have stolen; […] on Maria Ivanovna's writing-table, I observed a three-rouble note. […]. There was no one about. I took up the note and put it in my pocket; why, I can't say. […] In half an hour or so the loss was discovered, and the servants were being put under examination. Darya, the housemaid was suspected. I exhibited the greatest interest and sympathy, and I remember that poor Darya quite lost her head, and that I began assuring her, before everyone, that I would guarantee her forgiveness on the part of her mistress, if she would confess her guilt. They all stared at the girl, and I remember a wonderful attraction in the reflection that here was I sermonizing away, with the money in my own pocket all the while. […] [the maid] was turned out next day, of course. It's a very strict household, there!"

"And you allowed it?"

"I should think so, rather! I was not going to return and confess next day," laughed Ferdishenko, who seemed a little surprised at the disagreeable impression which his story had made on all parties. (1.14.7-14)

This insane episode of a man acting totally without compassion is so bizarre and horrifying that we don't really know what to say. Why is Ferdishenko surprised that his little story is so poorly received? How does this round of stories at Nastasya's party compare with Myshkin's tales?

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