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The Idiot

The Idiot

by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Sacrifice Quotes Page 1

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Quote #1

Perhaps the sisterly love and friendship of the three girls had more or less exaggerated Aglaya's chances of happiness. In their opinion, the latter's destiny was not merely to be very happy; she was to live in a heaven on earth. Aglaya's husband was to be a compendium of all the virtues, and of all success, not to speak of fabulous wealth. The two elder sisters had agreed that all was to be sacrificed by them, if need be, for Aglaya's sake; her dowry was to be colossal and unprecedented. (1.4.4)

Um, yikes, pressure much? Talk about undue influence. Like many of the novel's sacrifices, this one is meant to be an indication of love, but ends up backfiring.

Quote #2

This apparition was too much for Ganya. Proud and vainglorious to the point of insecurity, of hypochondria; seeking all those two months for at least some point on which he could rest with a certain dignity and show himself nobly; feeling himself still a novice on the chosen path, who might fail to keep to it; finally, in despair, having resolved to become totally insolent in his own house, where he was a despot, but not daring to show the same resolve before Nastasya Philipovna, who went on confusing him until the last moment and merciless kept the upper hand; "an impatient pauper," in Nastasya Philipovna's own phrase, of which he had been informed; having sworn with all possible oaths to exact painful recompense for it later, and at the same time occasionally dreaming childishly to himself of making all ends meet and reconciling all opposites–—he now had to drink this terrible cup as well and, above all, at such a moment! One more unforeseen but most awful toture for a vainglorious man–—the torment of blushing for his own family in his own house–—fell to his lot. "Is the reward finally worth it?" flashed in Ganya's head at that moment. (1.9.36)

Ganya's sacrifices don't really work because he thinks of them as investments—give something up now in order to get something even greater back later.

Quote #3

Over the door, however, there was one of strange and rather striking shape; it was [a painting] six or seven feet in length, and not more than a foot in height. It represented the Saviour just taken from the cross.

The prince glanced at it, but took no further notice. He moved on hastily, as though anxious to get out of the house. But Rogozhin suddenly stopped underneath the picture. […]

"Lev Nicolaevich," said Rogozhin, after a pause, during which the two walked along a little further, "I have long wished to ask you, do you believe in God?"

"How strangely you speak, and how odd you look!" said the other, involuntarily.

"I like looking at that picture," muttered Rogozhin, not noticing, apparently, that the prince had not answered his question.

"That picture! That picture!" cried Muishkin, struck by a sudden idea. "Why, a man could even lose his faith looking at that picture!"

"Lose it he does," agreed Rogozhin, unexpectedly. (2.4.1-10)

It seems pretty significant that Myshkin avoids answering the question of whether he believes in God while standing under that faith-busting Holbein painting. It's like he is actually in the process of weighing his faith right then and there.

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