Study Help Essay Questions


1. In what ways is Prince Myshkin Christlike? In what ways unlike Christ?

2. What role does Fate play in this novel?

3. How does Myshkin's story of Marie illumine the prince's character and prepare us for his reaction to Nastasya?

4. Account for the initial attitudes of the Epanchins and the Ivolgins toward Nastasya.

5. What qualities of Myshkin and what qualities of Rogozhin are present in Nastasya?

6. What is the usual reaction of strangers to Myshkin?

7. Explain the difference between the medical use of the term "idiot" and the popular usage. Is Myshkin insane? How does Dostoevsky keep us from assuming that Myshkin is insane?

8. Does Aglaia Epanchin ever fall in love with the prince? Explain her contradictory reactions to him.

9. Contrast and compare Myshkin's comforting of Nastasya after her interview with Aglaia and Myshkin's comforting of Rogozhin at the end of the novel.

10. State briefly Lebedyev's function in the novel.

11. How does Ippolit's "Essential Explanation" relate to the philosophical ideas in the novel?

12. Philosophically, what comments does Dostoevsky seem to be making about the nature of innocence, especially when it comes into contact with hypocrisy and evil?