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Lloyd goes so far as to say in reference to events in A more judicious, yet strongly biographical approach to the events of the novel and their relationship to Dostoevsky's life is found in Edward Wasiolek's introduction to a translation of The Gambler by Victor Terras see xxxvii-xxxix. This volume not only contains a translation of Dostoevsky's novel, it also contains translations of ApoUinaria Suslova's diary, a short story by Suslova "The Stranger and Her Lover" , and selected correspondence dealing with the affair between Dostoevsky and Suslova. Other approaches have been taken by Joseph Frank, who has discussed the work as a study in national character , and Nina Pelikan Straus, who sees in the novel a reflection of Dostoevsky's struggle to deal with the topical issue of the emancipated woman in the s.

While the above-mentioned studies have focused primarily on the biographical and psychological elements in the novel, they have not devoted close attention to the unique world created by Dostoevsky in his novel. We can fmd this principle operating at all levels of the text, from the smallest details of language to broad relationships among the novel's characters. This essay will analyze the operation of this principle and explain its decisive significance in the text. One of the first places one finds this principle at work is in the very activity that saps the energies of several of its characters - the game of roulette.

Unlike certain card games, where the player may increase his or her chances of success by remembering which cards have already been played, the turns of the roulette wheel are entirely unpredictable. One places bets on arbitrary numbers from one to thirty-six or zero and double zero in some cases ; these numbers have no inherent significance in and of themselves: This element of arbitrariness also surfaces in some of the other ways that one can win.

The gambler may place a bet on the words rouge and noire, for example. Again, there is nothing inherently unique or distinctive about either of these alternatives. They are simply the signifiers of a binary choice. Red may win on one turn, and black on the next, or either may win several times in a row. Referring to an earlier work which had revealed to the public the inner world of a Siberian prison camp, Dostoevsky writes: Pervasive Instability in Dostoevsky 's The Gambler 69 arbitrary; they could just as easily by green and white or blue and yellow.

Such arbitrariness is even more evident in the other binary pair from which the gambler may choose: Manque designates the numbers one through eighteen, while passe designates the numbers nineteen through thirty-six. Although there are historical reasons to explain why these words appear on the roulette table, there is nothing essential about them as far as the odds of the game are concerned. One could choose any other two words in the language to designate the two sets of numbers on which one can place a bet.

The narrator, Aleksei Ivanovich, has been charged by Polina to play for her at the gaming tables. As he recounts how he laid down his first few bets, we see that there is no calculation or reasoning at work here: The wheel went round and thirteen turned up - I had lost. With a sickly feeling I staked another five friedrichs d'or on red, simply in order to settle the matter and go away.

On this occasion, Aleksei manages to win a tidy sum for Polina. On his next outing, however, he loses her money. When he returns to the tables in the gambling scene that is arguably the most emotionally charged moment in the novel for Aleksei, he again begins by making an absolutely arbitrary choice. This is how he describes the moment: Exactly before me was the word Passe scrawled on the green cloth. Passe is the series of numbers from nineteen inclusive to thirty-six. The first series of numbers from one to eighteen inclusive is called manque; but what was that to me?

All further quotations from this edition will be noted with a parenthetical reference giving the page number. Connolly A second way that Dostoevsky underscores the high degree of arbitrariness inherent in the numerical and verbal choices facing the gambler ironically utilizes a number that does carry some essential meaning, although the meaning is entirely metaphorical. This is the number "zero" that serves as the gambling establishment's ultimate edge over the player.

When the roulette ball lands on zero, then neither red nor black, nor manque nor passe, nor any of the other thirty-six numbers represents a winning wager. Zero "nullifies" all other bets. The symbolic significance of this becomes clear when the grande dame of the novel, Antonida Vasilevna Tarasevicheva, decides to try her hand at roulette, and commands Aleksei to place her first stake on zero. Symbolically, she is placing all her hopes on a nullity, and although she does manage to win in her initial outing to the casino through her persistent wagering on zero, she eventually loses all that she has with her: The phenomenon of arbitrary signifiers and the principle of fluid substitution that lies behind the phenomenon is also evident when one moves to the level of character names in the novel.

The figure for whom this is most apparent is the Frenchwoman with a checkered past. As is often the case when one encounters a shady character in Dostoevsky' s work, the "true" story of Mile. Blanche's background emerges only gradually, after several possibilities or notions of her past are raised in the form of vague rumors.

What is important for this discussion, however, is the issue of her true name. The suspicion that there might be some doubt about this issue is raised in a discreet, indirect way at the outset of the novel. Aleksei mentions that a footman calls one Frenchman "Monsieur le Comte," and that he also calls Blanche's mother "Madame la Comtesse.

Later, Aleksei even casts doubt on the relationship between Blanche and the woman who appears to be her mother: The most extensive discussion of Mile. Blanche's past, however, emphasizes how easily she has been able to change her identity, beginning with her name. Astley tells Aleksei that two years earlier. Blanche was at Roulettenburg, but, he adds: Blanche was not called Mile, de Cominges then" When Astley continues, the reader learns that Blanche first appeared at Roulettenburg in the company of an Italian "with an historical name" - Barbarini.

One day, the Italian disappeared, leaving his companion to fend for herself As Astley puts it: Selma she suddenly ceased to be Barberini, and became Mile. Selma was in the utmost despair" Soon, however, she becomes the companion of a Polish count, until the day that he too disappears. Yet this is not the last revelation of Mile. Blanche's penchant for changing her name. When she decides to marry Aleksei's former employer, the General, Aleksei discovers that she turns out ''not to be called 'De Cominges,' and her mamma not to be la veuve 'Cominges,' but 'Du Placet.

In the case of Mile. Blanche, we see that one's name can be easily and freely changed. The name itself does not serve to denote anything essential. This predilection for changing one's name and rank affects others in Roulettenburg. Nor is it only the French who like to assume alternate names. From the very beginning of his narrative, Aleksei refers to the woman he obsesses over as "Polina," but when Antonida Vasilevna arrives, she calls Polina "Praskovia. What is more, there is a constant tendency toward elevation of one's rank in Roulettenburg. The Marquis "De Grieux'" only became a marquis "very recently,'" according to Astley And Antonida Vasilevna is hailed by the proprietors of the hotel she occupies in Roulettenburg with a series of ever-rising designations: In a society impressed with rank, and with surface show, it is easy and advantageous to change one" s label, thereby elevating one's status at the same time.

Blanche, we should note that her first name itself is a color word - "white" - and that this should perhaps serve as a subtle warning about her fickle nature. This is the land of Babel, a place without a national language or culture'" Connolly that white is the color of the ball which determines the outcome of all the wagers placed at the table, and therefore is followed avidly by all the desperate players in the game. It is no coincidence then, that, Aleksei will ultimately follow Blanche to Paris, and will squander all of his winnings to meet her whims. Addicted to roulette, Aleksei is fated to follow the color white wherever it may lead.

For the gambler Aleksei, the game of roulette has taken the place of everyday life, and this is one of the several substitutions that leave him a broken man. The ease with which one can change one's identity in Roulettenburg is merely a symptom of a larger and more serious problem in the world of this novel. Not only names, but individual people can be switched around or replaced. We have already noted how the function of Mile. Blanche's financial supporter can be filled by one man after another: Barberini is replaced by a Polish count, and Blanche thinks nothing of trying to replace the count with a German baron.

Later, she replaces the General with Aleksei, and then shifts back again to marry the General. Yet Blanche's substitutions pale in gravity before the series of substitutions that involves the lives of the novel's central trio of characters - Aleksei, Polina, and the Frenchman De Grieux. As we shall see, the principle of fluidity of substitution that we found operating in the game of roulette manifests itself in the complex interrelationship among these three characters, and it is Aleksei' s tolerance for and even embrace of easy exchange that leads to the novel's unhappy outcome.

We see the prominence of the principle of free substitution at work in the theme of "slavery" that Aleksei writes about in the first part of the novel. According to his view of his relationship with Polina, Polina regards him as a nothing more than a "slave. I believe she had hitherto looked on me as that empress of ancient times looked on the slave before whom she did not mind undressing, because she did not regard him as a human being. Yes, often she did not regard me as a human being! Of course, the humiliation and slavery in which she held me might have made it possible for me it often does to question her coarsely and bluntly.

Seeing that in her eyes I was a slave and utterly insignificant, there was nothing for her to be offended at in my coarse curiosity. She may have a deeper regard for him than he is able to comprehend. We should note here that Polina' s instruction itself involves a kind of substitution: Aleksei has pledged to jump off the Schlangenberg if she so commands, or even to kill someone if she orders it.

Polina shuns such melodrama. As she puts it: When Aleksei does approach the Baroness, what he says to her in French is highly significant: Here he reveals his deep inclination toward substitution: As it turns out, this initial substitution triggers a series of other substitutions: Aleksei, in turn, claims to be offended now by the Baron, but his subsequent behavior - threatening to challenge the Baron to a duel, etc. Yet all of these incidents of substitution may be viewed as indicators of a much more disturbing type of substitution.

Although Aleksei claims to have intense feelings toward Polina see and especially , his recollecfion of the moment when he first began to love her is extraordinarily revealing. Some time before, long ago. As Frank puts it: For further elucidation of Polina's reaction to Aleksei's behavior see R. Connolly looked at him "in such a way She stood facing him and looked at him. It was from that evening that I loved her" ; ellipsis in original.

What makes this episode remarkable is the connection that Aleksei seems to be making perhaps unconsciously between his fantasy that Polina had just slapped De Grieux, and his sudden love for her. His narration of the event suggests that what he is ultimately seeking is to be in De Grieux 's position, to be the recipient of the gaze of a woman who had just slapped him. This, of course, may remind the reader of the underground man's desire to be in the position of the man who had just been thrown out of a tavern window in Part II of Notes from the Underground.

It implies that a certain degree of masochism may lie at the core of his feelings for Polina. Aleksei desires Polina in part because De Grieux seems to. We shall soon see if this hypothesis has merit. Taking all of these points about Aleksei' s first moment of infatuation with Polina into consideration, the reader may be justified in harboring some suspicion about the depth or authenticity of Aleksei' s professions of love for Polina. Indeed, these suspicions are painfully confirmed at the very moment when Aleksei seems to be facing the fulfilment of his most fervent wishes.

Thus, his masochistic feelings are closely bound up with sadistic impulses, and at one point he admits: For a discussion of these impulses within Aleksei, see Knapp Peii-asive lustabilin- in Doswevsky 's The Gambler 75 completed her first round of gambling.

Aleksei reflected on his situation and that of Polina. And could I leave her? These last words are worth remembering when we turn to the scene in which Aleksei' s dream seems to come true. Aleksei returns to his room to find Polina sitting there, all alone in the dark. You'll see that directly" Later m the scene, he realizes that Polina loves him. Indeed, she is indignant when he suggests that she seek out Mr. Polina rejects the kind of substitution that Aleksei seems to find so appealing. After a brief interchange in which Polina declares her anger about De Gneux's treatment of her and her desire to have money to throw in his face, Aleksei suddenly leaves the room, without telling her where he is going or what he intends to do.

He heads to the casino and embarks on a gambling spree which results in substantial winnings. Despite his claim that all he wanted was to be near Polma and to bask in the halo of her radiance "And could I leave her? It IS clear that for him. Connolly mately finds more seductive than the demands of involvement with another. When Aleksei returns to his room, flush with his winnings, he seems preoccupied with his new wealth and his potential role as Polina' s benefactor. Polina is quick to notice this change in attitude, and when Aleksei suddenly offers her the equivalent of fifty thousand francs, she makes a bitter, self- deprecating remark that implicitly links Aleksei's new stance with that of De Grieux: Aleksei immediately picks up on this potential identification and substitution, and he asks: Still, Polina does not quite want to acknowledge a complete, one-to-one substitution.

This statement implies a similarity between the two men, but not a complete identity, as Aleksei's preceding comment had done. She continues in this vein, drawing Aleksei ever closer to De Grieux's position: For fifty thousand francs, like De Grieux? Yet she resists the identification, and seeks signs that Aleksei truly loves her as she is, and not simply someone whom he can buy. In a maelstrom of doubts and desires, she draws Aleksei to her, and they become lovers.

Through his willingness to have a sexual encounter with her even though it is clear that she is in emotional turmoil, Aleksei seems to confirm Polina' s most anxious concerns, and when she awakens the next morning, she is ready to enter fully into the arena of substitution that she had resisted the previous evening.

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She asks for the money she had rejected earlier, and she throws it into Aleksei's face. In a comment that echoes the principle of mutability and substitution developed in the present article, Geha also sees a deep series of substitutions going on in Aleksei's gambling activity: Nina Pelikan Straus sees Polina's gesture as a the rejection of a different kind of substitution. In her reading, Polina is rejecting the implied identification of women with money, a view that symbolizes "'the feminine' as a purchasable commodity" Pervasive Instability in Dostoevsk ' 's The Gambler 77 proved a shattering experience, and she leaves Aleksei, trying to find refuge and peace elsewhere.

Aleksei, on the other hand, is doomed to remain locked in a world in which the unique and the individual is devalued, and where everything is subject to ready exchange and substitution. Having lost Polina, he does not pursue her, but replaces her presence with Blanche. In his distorted world-view, everything is susceptible to immediate transformation. Indeed, as he puts it: Even life and death seem to be subject to this heady elixer of fluid substitution, at least on a metaphoric level: What may I be tomorrow?

Tomorrow I may rise from the dead and begin to live again! It is here that we see the ultimate significance of Dostoevsky's use of the theme of substitution in 77? In the world of Roulettenburg, as in the game of roulette itself, nothing seems to be fixed or permanent; everything is subject to change.

As Jackson puts it: Designations appear arbitrary, and fortunes rise and fall in a seemingly haphazard way. For some lost souls, such as Aleksei, this freedom from essence, from fixed values, may be both intoxicating and devastating. Clearly, he relishes the sensation of being caught up in the "whirlwind," of losing sight of "all order and measure" In a revealing moment, Aleksei acknowledges the impact of his state of mind on his moral orientation: As a result, Aleksei manages to do damage not only to himself, but to those who love him as well.

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By the end of the novel, Aleksei has been reduced to an especially grim state in Dostoevsky's fictional world: Thus The She ultimately ends up in the company of Mr. Astley's sister, effectively taking her out of the cycle of substituting one male for another. Aleksei's abrupt abandonment of pursuit of Polina deserves comment. His behavior seems to bear out Girard's prediction about what happens when the rival in this case De Grieux disappears: If the rival disappears, this value will also disappear" As Alex de Jonge has observed, the compulsive gambler "plays in a kind of eternal present.

He loses all sense of past or future" Connolly Gambler not only provides a revealing portrait of the psychology of the gambler. Through its treatment of the power of arbitrary signifiers and the effects of free substitution on human relationships, Dostoevsky's The Gambler offers a unique perspective on that "terrible" freedom which so many readers have found to be one of Dostoevsky's enduring themes. Works Cited de Jonge, Alex. Dostoevsky and the Age of Intensity. Seeker and Warburg, The Gambler with Polina Suslova 's Diaiy.

The University of Chicago Press, Great Short Works of Fyodor Dostoevsky. The Miraculous Years, A Contribution to the Psychogenesis of Gambling. The Psychoanalytic Review Deceit, Desire, and the Novel: Self and Other in Literaiy Structures. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Essays on Literature, Mimesis, and Anthropology. The Art of Dostoevsky: Charles Scribner's Sons, Dostoevsky' s False Beauty and the Poetics of Perversity. Dostoevsky and the Woman Question: Rereadings at the End of the Century.

Berman Princeton University The Idiofs Romantic Struggle The Idiot does not immediately present itself as a romantic novel and critics have not generally regarded it in that light. Reacting against classicism and the pure reason of the Enlightenment, the German romantics of the late eighteenth century who became a model for the later Russian romantics struggled to bridge the gap between reason and creativity, reality and ideals.

Their plotlines frequently involved bringing together opposing worlds, the typical heroes being dreamers and wanderers and typical settings including pristine lands untouched by the corrupting hand of civilization. By the time Dostoevsky wrote The Idiot, twenty years had passed since his early romantic period and he was well established as a psychological writer in the new realist tradition, but "the school of romantic aesthetics At its heart is Dostoevsky' s great experiment - to create a 'completely beautiful man' with childlike ' In his book on romantic realism, Fanger provides only one passing mention of The Idiot His approach, with its focus on the city, offers a different perspective on the interaction between romanticism and realism than the one given here.

Grazhis argues that while scholars traditionally talk about Dostoevsky's progression from romanticism to realism, they overlook the fact that in many of the mature works like The Idiot as well as Dream of a Ridiculous Man and even The Brothers Karamazov, there are more elements of romanticism than in Dostoevsky's first novel. Berman goodness and naivety, place him in the realist context of St Petersburg society, and see if the dissonance between the ideal and the real could be overcome.

This is a quintessentially romantic struggle. What makes The Idiot different from a traditional romantic novel, however, is that Dostoevsky shifts the locus of this struggle to within his main hero. Instead of the author wrestling with bringing together the ideal and the real in his work, it is Myshkin, with his childlike goodness, who struggles to see St Petersburg society in the simple, positive ternis he used in his Swiss village, while being bombarded with the cold, harsh realities of greed, lust, and cruelty that become unavoidable from his first day of arrival in Russia.

With overly-simplistic childlike logic, he fears that to acknowledge baseness in others would be an admission that darkness had crept into his own soul and therefore he fights against his own knowledge, gradually breaking down by the end of the novel. When this struggle between real and ideal belongs to the author, it shapes the fomi of the text the fragment being considered a way to create movement towards an ideal, even when it was unattainable.

Once Dostoevsky places it inside of Myshkin, however, he creates a new battleground in the realm of psychology. As Myshkin's inner struggle becomes the center of the novel, Myshkin himself becomes fragmented, taking on many of the traits of a traditional romantic text. I believe that shifting the romantic stmggle from the author's to the hero's plane of vision holds one of the keys to understanding how the psychological novel arose out of the legacy of romanticism.

As a result, modem men came to appreciate nature and the natural as things they had lost - a stance Schiller calls sentimental.

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There are moments in our life when we accord to nature in plants, minerals, animals, landscapes, as well as to human nature in children, in the customs of country people and of the primitive world, a sort of love and touching respect, not because it pleases our senses nor because it satisfies our intellect or taste They are, therefore, at the same time a representation of our lost childhood, which remains eternally the most precious to us.

At the same time they are representations of our highest perfection in the ideal Once people find themselves outside of nature, they do not live with its immediacy, but instead become reflective upon their experiences as they strive to regain this lost ideal. What was for Schiller a question of the author's stance, Dostoevsky makes into a question of his hero's point of view. He is a unified being who experiences the world directly, without an intervening layer of reflection or self-consciousness.

He is able to hold this viewpoint because in many ways he is a permanent child. After coming into contact with the realities of St Petersburg and Moscow society however, he undergoes a radical change.

When Myshkin appears again in Part Two, instead of being a two dimensional character, he has become internally fragmented, living in the second-degree like Schiller's sentimental. Berman between author and hero. Mikhail Bakhtin argues that unlike earlier monologic authors, Dostoevsky invented a new kind of polyphonic novel: Bakhtin' s theories show that in making this move from author to hero, the struggle shifts from the aesthetic to the ethical plane.

In his early writing on the relationship of the author and hero, Bakhtin argues that the author, standing outside the work, operates on the aesthetic level of the text: The consciousness of the creator must exist on a qualitatively different level from that of the one created.

This effect actually has its roots in romanticism and can be seen in the earlier Russian romantics. Dostoevsky, standing outside of the work, has this kind of excess vision and can concern himself with the large structures of "ideal" and "real. Instead, standing within the reality of the novel, he is concerned about the ethical choices he is forced to make. As a result, he becomes increasingly cut off from himself and plagued with doubts about his own thoughts.

When Myshkin appears on the train at the beginning of Part One, he is coming from the pristine setting of a village in the Swiss countryside where he has enjoyed a simple, quiet life surrounded by the beauties of nature and a band of children for his companions - the classic Romantic idyll. More importantly, he himself is a permanent child. Myshkin reports that in his doctor's words: Berman not an adult, and thus I will remain. When Myshkin appears in the novel at age twenty-six, he is still in the childlike state of innocence and unity with nature that the romantics idealized and strove to attain.

He tells the Yepanchins quite directly in their first meeting: This choice evokes associations to the bleak lives of Makar and Varenka, the destitution of Raskolnikov and Sonya, and a population of Gogol's petty clerks and puffed-up bureaucrats. While in most of his other works, Dostoevsky writes of the lower levels of society, people wrestling with extreme poverty and degradation, by turning to a higher stratum in The Idiot he strengthens the contrast between Myshkin' s naturalness and the artifice of the wealthy and those who surround them looking for wealth.

Reference to the Russian Sobrauie sochineuii henceforth will be to PSS followed by volume and then page number. English translations of The Idiot are from McDuff. David , with occasional slight alterations to convey a specific meaning needed. This is precisely the dissonance Dostoevsky creates in a literal, "realisf ' manner when he places his 'completely beautiful man" into the middle of a brewing societs' scandal. We come to know Myshkin in Part One mainly through his own words and actions.

Myshkin cries out to her. Is it really possible! When Ganya comes to apologize after slapping him, Myshkin declares that Ganya is not "base" but simply "the most ordinary man there could be. Berman slap he just received and Ganya's declaration that he is marrying a woman he despises for money, Myshkin sees Ganya as simply weak, not base. This way of seeing allows Myshkin to maintain his childlike naivety in the face of the dark realities of selfish motivations, petty intrigues, and greed that surround him.

We can view simultaneously the conflicting planes on which various characters are operating, and thus watch Myshkin' s process of projecting his vision onto others from both the inside and the outside. By the end of the first day, the coUision of Myshkin' s ideal vision and the realities of St Petersburg already causes a major explosion at Nastasya Filippovna's birthday celebration. Then the heroes disappear for six months and Dostoevsky uses the rest of the book to trace the results of his experiment, with a particular emphasis on how it affects Myshkin' s psychology.

Myshkin as a Struggling Sentimental Figure When Myshkin reappears after the six-month gap that precedes Part Two, he has undergone a radical shift. In the interval he has come into his inheritance and "the money brings Myshkin into contact with the material world The only thing we hear from Myshkin directly during the six months when he is absent from Petersburg is a letter that he writes to Aglaya: At one time you honored me with your trust.

It may be that you have now forgotten me entirely. How has it come to pass that I am writing to you? I do not know; but there has appeared in me an irrepressible longing to remind you of me, and you in particular. How many times I have needed all three of you, but of all three I saw only you. I need you, very much.

I have nothing to write to you about myself, nothing to tell you. I did not want that, either; I should terribly For a discussion of the conflicting real and ideal spheres, see Grazhis: That is all 1 wanted to say to you. Instead, they suggest a man who is full of uncertainty about his own feelings. Myshkin says explicitly that he does not even know why he is wTiting. This is the first sign that his outlook has changed. There is none of his naivety in this conversation, but instead a cynical realism.

He opens the topic with the words: I know it all. Have you managed to sell her to him, as you did last time, or not? He is realistic about the base motivations of others and is not seeing the kinds of positive explanations for everything that he found so easily in Part One. Myshkin goes to visit Rogozhin, whom he suspects was watching him at the train station, and through the whole conversation he is in a kind of daze, continually fixating on Rogozhin' s knife.

Myshkin asks several questions about the knife and then suddenly comes to himself and says: I become quite, quite absent-minded and absurd. I didn't mean to ask about this at all Myshkin is wrestling with the f PSS8: If man has entered into a state of culture and if an has placed her hand on him. Nhshkin answers "It seems it's the complete truth. As he tells the Yepanchms: Berman once they have been put into words for the outside world, do not come out the way he means them.

He used to believe that through speaking of Switzerland and his ideal vision of the world, he could recreate that world in St Petersburg, but he has lost that certainty now. He cannot express himself clearly because he no longer sees the world in clear simple terms. He betrays this desire to Kolya when the latter brings him a hedgehog from Aglaya, which brightens Myshkin' s mood. The sphere of romantic love is most problematic for Myshkin because it is the least compatible with childhood and a childlike outlook, and the area where he feels most guilty before everyone.

Myshkin becomes increasingly out of alignment with himself as he struggles against adult comprehension of the amorous overtones in his relationships. Despite the fact that his behavior seems like that of an active suitor for two women! When he muses about a note from Aglaya, inviting him to a rendezvous, the narrator tells us that Myshkin cannot acknowledge the Eros in the situation: If anyone had told him at that moment that he had fallen in love, was passionately in love, he would have rejected the idea with astonishment and, Gasparov: And if anyone had added to this that Aglaya's note was a love letter, the assignation of a lover's tryst, he would have burned with shame for that man All this was completely sincere, and he never once 47 doubted or had the slightest 'double' thoughts.

Unlike Dostoevsky's Underground Man, Myshkin does not relish double thoughts and loopholes. While in Part I, Myshkin would speak about any topic, after his return to St. Petersburg he will not let others speak to him of Aglaya's escapades - a concerted effort not to know. Myshkin admits to Ippolit that he is aware of a rendezvous between Aglaya and Ganya and then in the same breath claims to know nothing about it. Ippolit' s reply highlights a key problem for Myshkin: That' s why you're trusting, because you don't know. The type of cognitive dissonance Myshkin is experiencing cannot be maintained.

Under the strain of trying to attain the unattainable, he begins to break down.

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At first he finds himself in a feverish state, and then the increased tension of the Yepanchins' soiree brings on an epileptic fit which signals the beginning of his return to childlike non-comprehension and then eventual "idiocy. The signs of his internal strain become visible to everyone present: Why he had suddenly become so anxious, why he had fallen into such an obsequious rapture, for no apparent reason and, it seemed, quite out of proportion to the subject they were discussing - it would have been hard to determine. He is trying to express an idea 47 PSS8: Berman about Catholicism being worse than atheism, but has lost the ability to speak clearly and to put his thoughts in order.

After finding that people are not angry with him for knocking over an expensive vase, he suddenly feels intimate with everyone in the room. Becoming joyful, he attempts to share with them openly, as he had when he first arrived in Russia. I was afraid of you, and afraid of myself. Most of all, myself. I have always heard so much about you that is bad, more than is good, about the pettiness and exclusiveness of your interests, about your backwardness, your poor education, your ridiculous habits.

I saw people who are elegant, open-hearted, intelligent; I saw an elder statesman who was kind and understanding and forgiving, good-natured Russian people, almost as good-natured and warm-hearted as those whom I met back there [in Switzerland], almost as good as them. Like a child, he now sees them as he wants to believe they are, linking them back to his time in Switzerland. Craving direct connection, he tells the company: This is not the behavior of a child, as children do not put themselves in the position of their interlocutor. Myshkin shows his external viewpoint with comments like: What shall I say to begin with, so that they at least understand something?

To talk to someone and not be happy that one loves him Look at a child, look at God's dawn, look at the grass growing, look into the eyes that look back at you and love you His final statement sounds just like Schiller's words about appreciating nature quoted at the beginning of this paper. Viewed in this light, Myshkin's final thought appears to be one of self acceptance as well as love for the outside world.

Berman contrary our opposition to nature in our relationships, circumstances and customs, drives us to seek a satisfaction in the physical world which is not to be hoped for in the moral world. The strain is too much for Myshkin, and after his fit he never fully recovers. Although he feels no derangement in his mind, the narrator tells us that his soul is sick. He is bombarded by a series of visitors, all hinting and making allusions to events, romantic liaisons, intrigues, and potential dangers he does not want to know about or believe.

Myshkin breaks into a fever and becomes increasingly passive, overwhelmed by the circumstances around him. When Aglaya comes asking him to escort her to Nastasya Filippovna's, he follows "like a slave. He almost ceases to process information. Once engaged to Nastasya Filippovna, he goes to the Yepanchins' every day to see Aglaya, is refused admittance, and then returns the next day as if he had forgotten. He seems unfazed when Nastasya Filippovna runs off with Rogozhin, leaving him alone at the altar. While looking for Nastasya Filippovna in St Petersburg, Myshkin becomes increasingly impaired and eventually loses his mind after finding her murdered.

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During his search, Myshkin comes across Rogozhin in the street, and the narrator himself is baffled at how Myshkin suddenly begins to babble. He asks Rogozhin a question and it takes him two full minutes to process the three-word answer. Having been taken to Rogozhin' s silent room, Myshkin must literally be shown Nastasya Filippovna's body before he understands that she has been murdered.

His mind is doing everything it can to avoid this reality. Once the murder becomes an unavoidable fact, Myshkin immediately begins to tremble, his legs go weak, and he starts asking irrelevant, trivial questions, as if his mind is looking for a way to escape. Next, he becomes focused on calming Rogozhin, stroking his hair when Rogozhin begins to mumble. The narrator comments that there was nothing more Myshkin could do. His foray into the world has ended in complete failure.

By morning, he is stroking Rogozhin's head with no understanding of what is taking place. Myshkin the Romantic Knight This is not, however, the only level at which The Idiot draws on its romantic heritage. In broad terms, the novel as a whole follows a traditional romantic plotline: Es ist unmoglich, sich die Weltliteratur ohne Frauengestalten vorzustellen. Die Frau muss nicht unbedingt die Hauptheldin eines Werkes sein, um diesem einen besonderen Charakter zu verleihen.

Welche Rolle die Frau in dem einen oder anderen Werk spielt, hangt von dem Zeitpunkt, in dem das Werk geschrieben wurde, von der Literaturgattung und von den Absichten des Autors ab. In verschiedenen Zeiten und Volkern hat sie je nach sittlichen, religiosen und kulturellen Anschauungen eine wechselnde Stellung angenommen.


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