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The Idiot

The Idiot

by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Good vs. Evil Theme

For a novel that ponders the ability of the "perfectly beautiful" person to have any kind of lasting impact on others, there is a significant amount of space in The Idiot devoted to the contrasts in the battle between good and evil. Usually, the symbols of these two forces are comparable but opposing characters who shed some light by providing stark contrasts. But, because this is a complex novel, and not a morality play, things aren't that simple.

Questions About Good vs. Evil

  1. Who is good? Who is evil? Is it possible to categorize the characters in this novel in this way? Do good characters perform evil actions? Vice-versa? Does this shift our perspective of them relative to this category? Why or why not?
  2. Does being an embodiment of evil or good confer any special powers on a character? Does it make them better or worse at functioning within society?
  3. Are other characters able to perceive the affiliations between good and evil, and those around them?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

In this novel, the concepts of good and evil exist primarily through contrasts between two things that would not necessarily appear either good or evil without a juxtaposed counterpart.

The novel is obsessed with murder and the state of mind that allows someone to kill another human being. The evil associated with murder attains supernatural levels.

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