Study Guide

The Idiot Part 3, Chapter 8

By Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Part 3, Chapter 8

  • Aglaya is mad that he was asleep on the special bench. Myshkin is all, dude, I was walking around all night. Then he tells her about Ippolit's near suicide.
  • Aglaya has two thoughts about this: one, that Ippolit did the whole thing just so that she would read his confession (um, ego much?) and two, she is fascinated by what Radomsky said at the end about the selfless thing.
  • Myshkin points out that maybe Ippolit wanted Aglaya to read it, but that his suicide attempt was also a cry for help—he wanted everyone to tell him they loved him and to ask him to please not do it. Which, what a depressingly useless cry for help—and really, why pick an audience of near-strangers?
  • Aglaya's perspective on Ippolit is funny. She is closest to him in age—they are both still teenagers—and she just totally dismisses the suicide, like, oh, I also am constantly fantasizing about killing myself just so my family would feel terribly guilty for being mean to me. Which is such a spot-on adolescent fantasy, no? Shmoop totally remembers indulging in those thoughts.
  • Aglaya asks Myshkin to be her friend.
  • He's all, um, aren't we friends already?
  • She says, no, I want you to be my special run-away friend. Turns out, Aglaya wants to run away from home because she has never been anywhere else—seriously, nowhere, not even school. She doesn't want to go straight from home to being married.
  • Myshkin tells her that he was worried that she was in love with him, but he's glad to see that's not the case. She gets mad and says, you're the one who wrote me a love letter. But Myshkin is all, that wasn't a love letter—you were like a shining light to me and I just wanted to see if you were doing ok.
  • Aglaya tries to clarify where Myshkin stands with Nastasya, and says that she herself is engaged to Ganya.
  • Myshkin tells her that he wrote her the letter when in the thick of things with Nastasya, who sounds like a very unpleasant person to spend any time with. When he lived with her—platonically—he tried really hard to help her with her mental problems.
  • Basically, she is full of extreme self-hatred for her time with that gross old man Totsky. No matter how much Myshkin tried to explain that none of that was her fault, he couldn't really get through, and she is just hell-bent on self-destructive and crazy behavior.
  • It's too bad they didn't have Prozac then. Sounds like she could have used a few, no?
  • But in any case, Myshkin doesn't—and can't—love Nastasya in a romantic way.
  • Aglaya tells Myshkin that Nastasya has been writing her crazy letters every day, demanding and begging Aglaya to marry Myshkin.
  • Myshkin is all, whaaaat? But Aglaya is not dumb—she can read the subtext there and says that clearly as soon as Myshkin and Aglaya are married, Nastasya will kill herself. Huh.
  • Aglaya is really mad again that Myshkin is so invested in the crazy. She hands him the letters and asks that he get Nastasya to stop writing her.
  • And then Mrs. Epanchin pops out of nowhere and demands to know what they are talking about.
  • Aglaya yells that she is going to secretly marry Ganya and runs away.
  • Mrs. Epanchin then grabs Myshkin to take him to the Epanchins' house and debrief him. No, not take his pants off, people. Yeesh, get your minds out the gutter. She is going to get him to spill the beans about his conversation with Aglaya.

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