The Idiot By Fyodor Dostoevsky Summary and Analysis Part IV: Chapter 10

Summary

General Ivolgin dies from a second stroke, and during his Orthodox service, Myshkin feels Rogozhin's eyes upon him once more; he is sure that Rogozhin is preying on him.

Lebedyev tries to discourage Myshkin from being married in Pavlovsk, but Myshkin is firm, even after he hears that the commoners speak of nothing else but the wedding and that they are planning a surprise of some sort for the newlyweds. Myshkin also hears that Lebedyev is plotting, and the rumor is confirmed when Lebedyev comes to the prince confessing that he has been asking for the protection of some persons of consequence in case of necessity. He tells the prince, however, that he is ready to defend Myshkin.

Myshkin, at the plea of Ippolit's mother, visits her young consumptive son and, again, he is warned — this time that Rogozhin is dangerous.

Ippolit swears that Rogozhin will stop at nothing to possess Nastasya and, since that seems impossible now, then it is likely that he might kill Aglaia, out of spite. Myshkin leaves, terribly frightened.

The last days Myshkin spends with Nastasya, before the wedding, convince him that she is ill and that her "poor sick soul" has broken down; it is a painful realization, but even more painful is Myshkin's finding Nastasya, only five days before the wedding, screaming hysterically that she has seen Rogozhin, hiding in the garden, and that he will cut her throat in the night. Myshkin investigates and is convinced that Rogozhin has not been in the garden.

The night before the wedding, Nastasya collapses again, weeping, and falling on her knees before Myshkin. Embracing his feet, she wonders what she is doing to the prince. Myshkin talks at length to her, and finally he leaves, seemingly reassured that she is at peace.

Next morning the church is filled and Myshkin is waiting as Keller leaves to fetch the bride. Nastasya emerges from Darya Alexeyevna's house and dazzles the crowd outside. She approaches the carriage, then as Keller offers her his arm, she utters a cry and rushes into the crowd; she runs to Rogozhin and cries for him to save her, to take her away, and the two leap into a carriage and escape.

Myshkin learns of Nastasya's actions and goes pale but accepts what he hears with apparent calm. He leaves the church and returns home. Alone, he sits with his head in his hands. Vera comes to him and finds him extremely distraught, but before she leaves, Myshkin asks her to wake him at seven o'clock next morning. He kisses Vera's hands and she goes away wondering what will happen to the poor prince.

Analysis

The marriage of Myshkin to Nastasya Filippovna is almost subordinated in this chapter to a growing sense of doom. Myshkin's sensing that Rogozhin's eyes are on him is very much like his feeling just before Rogozhin's attempt to murder him. And this foreboding, plus the scene's being set at a funeral, is prophetic. In addition, Lebedyev's mention of shedding blood, Ippolit's fear for Aglaia's life, and Nastasya's belief that her throat would be cut — all of these prepare us for the violence in the following chapter. As for Nastasya's fleeing away with Rogozhin, she has fled from marriage several times before, so this escape is not really a surprise. Obviously now, she fears life with the prince more than she fears possible death with Rogozhin.

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At the end of Part III, Nastasya and Rogozhin each ask Myshkin the same question. What was it?




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