Study Guide

Ivan Petrovitch Ptitsyn in The Idiot

By Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Ivan Petrovitch Ptitsyn

A moneylender with a head for business, Ptitsyn marries Varya Ivolgin and supports the Ivolgin family.

There is an amazing section in the novel that is basically just a very long narratorial aside about how boring and ordinary it is to be a "practical" person. The narrator is all confused about why this is considered to be such a great quality when practical people are just people who don't have any original ideas and live their lives without dreams or deep thoughts. Which, yeah, ok, maybe in theory it sounds awesome to be original. But in practice? Well, we've got a true original in Myshkin, and he is straight up unfit to live in the world.

That's what we have in the example of Ptitsyn—the practical man of business. He is not out to gouge anybody with his lending practices, but instead just follows the same strategy as his wife Varya: slow and steady wins the race. And honestly? The two of them are probably the novel's big winners. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

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