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The Idiot

The Idiot

by Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Idiot Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Philosophical Viewpoints: The Non-Divine Christ

By setting up Myshkin as a Christ figure, but not giving him supernatural or divine powers, Dostoevsky tests the possibility of a "perfectly beautiful" man existing in the artificial and duplicitou...

Compassion and forgiveness

Myshkin's insistence on forgiving everyone who has wronged him in some way is possibly the least comprehensible thing about his behavior, at least as far as everyone else is concerned. Not only doe...

Love

In The Idiot, the love that is possible between two people is compared to the kind of love Christianity urges its followers to feel for all human beings everywhere. For most of the characters, the...

Suffering

Suffering is probably The Idiot's one universal constant. However wealthy, healthy, or set up, each character suffers a lot mentally or even physically. Often this happens at the hands of those clo...

Sacrifice

Sacrifice is a virtue that is often goes hand in hand with humility. But in the The Idiot it functions like a double-edged sword. On the one hand, there are those whom sacrifice teaches how to tap...

Hypocrisy

In the standard premise of an innocent person coming to the big city, one of the most popular ways of showing the differences between him and the society he has entered is to display the small, eti...

Good vs. Evil

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 i...

Society and Class

Although The Idiot is not a novel of manners, and so issues of class status and the subtle hierarchies of society are not a major concern, we do experience the differences between the aristocracy,...

Innocence

Although The Idiot quite plainly deals with the havoc that the arrival of an innocent man can have on an established society, in reality, the level of innocence that Myshkin displays fluctuates wil...

Power

Of course, because The Idiot is set in the 19th century, there are the usual culprits who abuse the economic or class superiority they have. In this novel, however, a lot of power is also wielded b...

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