© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
 

Analysis

Literary Devices in The Idiot

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Setting

Switzerland/Petersburg/PavlovskWe listed all of the geographical locations that are in the novel for a reason: we're not sure we can tell the difference between any of them. Sure, there are some pr...

Narrator Point of View

Unlike pretty much every other aspect of this novel, the narrator of The Idiot is pretty straight up and simple. It's the standard 19th century voice-of-reason style of drifting in and out of the h...

Genre

We'd be hard pressed to call this anything other than a straight-up tragedy, right, folks? The extremely depressing ending is really pretty littered with bodies, both literally and figuratively spe...

Tone

Say your signature writing move is hysteria. Just full-on, insane in the membrane, screaming matches between characters who in an ideal world would have iron-clad restraining orders out against eac...

Writing Style

There are many things Dostoevsky is good at. But you know what is pretty much universally acknowledged? Dude is no kind of prose stylist. On the one hand you've got your Chekhovs, your Dickenses, y...

What's Up With the Title?

Sure, it kind of seems straight-forward at first, but Shmoop's here to tell you that actually there are a couple of things to notice about this title. First off, it's got a double-entendre in there...

What's Up With the Ending?

We've spent a whole bunch of time discussing the idea that Myshkin is basically supposed to be Jesus, minus the supernatural and divine parts—you know, a walking, talking, perfect human being. An...

Tough-o-Meter

You know what? This book is actually not that tough to read. Tough to process or characterize? Well, sure, probably. But reading and understanding it at the basic plot level is pretty straightforwa...

Plot Analysis

There's a new guy in townPrince Lev Myshkin comes to Petersburg. He has spent most of his life in a near-catatonic state and so has no idea of proper manners or society. Instead he is a purely good...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Anticipation StagePrince Myshkin arrives in Petersburg to find whatever family or connections he may still have in Russia. Immediately he stumbles on the sad story of the very beautiful Nastasya Ph...

Three-Act Plot Analysis

Prince Myshkin comes to Petersburg and stumbles into Rogozhin, and the Ivolgin and Epanchin families. They are all trying to figure out what to do with Nastasya Philipovna, a beautiful woman withou...

Trivia

Dostoevsky's dad was murdered by his own serfs! And dudes, serfs were usually horribly abused by their owners, so think about how incredibly awful that guy must have been for them to kill him by—...

Steaminess Rating

All the sex that the novel mentions has either already happened or will happen sometime in the future, so for all the frank talk about mistresses and passionate feelings, there aren't actually any...

Allusions

Nikolai Karamzin, History of the Russian State Nikolai Karamzin, Letters of a Russian Traveler Russian Orthodox Spiritual Literature ("Menaions")Alexander Pushkin, "On Arakcheev" Alexander Pushkin,...
Advertisement
Advertisement
back to top