The Idiot - Part II Ch. I-V Summary & Analysis

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Part II Ch. I-V Summary

The next day Myshkin leaves for Moscow to claim his inheritance, staying for six months. Meanwhile, in St. Petersburg, rumors abound of his whereabouts. Madam Yephanchin is upset with him because he left so suddenly and does not like to hear anyone mentioning his name. She claims she was mistaken about the Prince's character as she has so often mistaken about people's goodness. General Ivolgin, Ganja's father, is put into debtor's prison for money he owed his mistress. Ptitsyn and Varya marry and Varya becomes acquainted with the Yepachin sisters, much to Madam Yephanchin's disgust. Ganja changes for the better and has become more friendly towards his family, in particular his younger brother, Koyla. Koyla accepts his brother's change of heart, and Ganja impresses him by returning the 100,000 roubles to Nastassya. Koyla also becomes good friends with the Yephanchin sisters. One day he gives Aglaya a letter from Myshkin that says how much he needs her as a friend.

Myshkin returns to St. Petersburg in June. As he walks through the crowded platform, he feels someone's eyes on him. He turns expecting to see a familiar face but sees no one but strangers. He continues to Lebedev's house. Lebedev has lost his wife six weeks before and is mourning her death. Lebedev is drunk and talking to his children and nephew. The Prince and Lebedev talk about Nastassya, who Lebedev claims left Rogozhin on their wedding day. He says Nastassya is staying with his sister-in-law, but she could also be in Pavlovsk. The Prince wants to push him further on the subject, but decides Lebedev is too drunk. Instead, he asks if he can rent out Lebedev's house in Palovsk. Lebedyev accepts his offer.

Myshkin visits Rogozhin's house, which he describes as large and gloomy. The two men are surprisingly friendly towards each other, and the Prince calls Rogozhin brother. As their conversation continues, it turns out they became very close in Moscow. The two men talk about Nastassya. In Rogozhin's opinion, she has dealt him a bad hand, running away when they planned to get married and embarking on affairs. He recounts a story where he "beat her black and blue" and then spent the next 36 hours begging her forgiveness. During this time, he did not eat, drink or sleep until she agreed to marry him. The day before the wedding she ran away. Myshkin says Nastassya cannot cope with Rogozhin's paranoia. Rogozhin says Myshkin is wrong, and the root of the problem is that she is in love with the Prince.

A number of times during the meeting, Myshkin claims he feels on the verge of an epileptic seizure. At one point, he absent-mindedly picks up a knife and Rogzhin snatches it away. Yet, moments later he picks it up again and again Rogozhin has to take it away. Myshkin decides to leave, but he goes the wrong way and Rogozhin has to lead him out.

As he takes Myshkin through his house, Rogozhin turns the conversation to religion. Rogozhin asks Myshkin if he believes in God. His question leads the Prince into two stories. The first one is about a peasant who murdered someone for their chain and watch, praying to God as he slit their throat. The second story is about a man who sold him his silver cross for 20 kopecks so he could get drunk. Rogozhin asks the Prince if he can have the cross. The Prince is reluctant, but Rogozhin says he can have his gold cross in exchange and as a token of their friendship. They swap crosses, and Rogozhin takes the Prince to see his mother, who, upon her son's request, blesses the Prince. Before leaving Rogozhin says, "Don't be afraid! Though I've taken your cross I won't murder you for your watch." He continues to say the Prince can have Nastassya.

The Prince walks to General Yephanchin's house but finds no one in. Leaving his card, he goes to see Koyla at the Scales hotel. Koyla has gone out and the Prince waits for him for a few hours, before heading out to catch a train to Pavlovsk. Just as he is boarding, the Prince decides not to go after all. He throws away his ticket and heads back into the streets.

At this point, the Prince is not feeling well and his thoughts become increasingly disconnected. While he stands at a shop window, he feels the same eyes on him he felt at the train station. He spins around expecting to see Rogozhin, but like at the station, all he sees are crowds. The Prince talks about seeing everything very clearly before a seizure. He runs over his previous problems with Nastassya and Rogozhin with great clarity and knows instinctively Rogozhin is following him. He wants to find Rogozhin and tell him everything is okay, but these are just thoughts, and his body takes him back to the hotel. While climbing the hotel stairs, Rogozhin jumps out intent on killing him, but the Prince has a seizure.

Rogozhin flees from the scene, leaving the hotel staff to discover the Prince's convulsing body. Luckily, Koyla arrives back at the hotel and identifies his friend. Once the Prince is conscious, Koyla takes him to Lebedev's, and from there the three men travel to Pavlovsk.

Part II Ch. I-V Analysis

The most important part of this section is the meeting between Rogozhin and the Prince. The earlier part of the section shows Dostoevsky's rambling style and highlights the contrast between the three main character's individuality and the conformity of the others. In the presence of the Yephanchins and Lebedev, the narrative is ponderous and full of highbrow ideas that come across as mere pretense. In this respect, they look towards the Prince to make something happen and take them away from their conventional lives. Even when Lebedev takes the Prince back to his house in Pavlovsk to recover from his seizure, it comes across as a selfish act rather than a moment of kindness.

In comparison, the meeting between Rogozhin and the Prince is dark, foreboding and complex. Even when the Prince approaches the house, Dostoevsky makes the reader aware of a potential tragedy with a description of the building that fits Rogozhin's dark character. Inside the house, Dostoevsky confirms the complexity of their relationship by the way they address each other as brother and even swap crosses. The religious discussions that follow show, despite their differences, they are both naturally inclined towards religion. Rogozhin confirms his sincerity by asking his mother to bless the Prince. However, when he attempts to kill the Prince in the hotel stairway, it comes as no surprise. In fact, it seems like the natural thing for him to do. They both know it is all going to end badly, the Prince earlier predicting Rogozhin would murder Natassya, and Rogozhin is trying to put an end to their misery.

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