The Idiot - Study Guide Part II Ch. VI-XII Summary & Analysis

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Part II Ch. VI-XII Summary

The Prince rests at Lebedev's villa in Pavlovsk and receives a number of visitors. The first to arrive is General Ivolgin, then Ganja, and before long Madam Yephanchin and her three daughters. Madam Yephanchin does not particularly like the company the Prince keeps and tells him so to his face. The Prince, however, takes her comment lightly, which only serves to increase her anger.

On the verandah, the Prince, Madam Yephachin, her three daughters, Koyla and Lebedev partake in a lively conversation. Koyla mentions the phrase "poor knight," which he heard Aglaya say aloud when she read Don Quixote. The Poor Knight is also a Russian poem, and Aglaya says she changes the letters A.M.D, inscribed on a rosary around the Knights neck, to A.N.B, though she refuses to explain why. Madam Yephanchin wants to hear Aglaya recite the poem. As she begins, General Yephanchin and a young man walk onto the Verandah.

The young man is the retired army officer Radomsky. Agalya continues to recite her poem and everyone listens intently. After she finishes, General Yephanchin introduces the Prince to Radomsky. He greets him cordially, but there is something else on the Prince's mind. He realizes Aglaya swapped the letters A.N.B for N.F.B and knows in some way this is significant. Madam Yephanchin meanwhile tells her daughter she knows she was making fun of the Prince, but she understands why.

Suddenly Vera asks Lebedev why he does not tell the Prince about the people waiting for the Prince at the front door. Lebedev says they are not worth seeing; it is only the son of Pavlishtchev. The Prince seems to know about them and says he had already asked Ganja to take care of them. Despite protests, the Prince opens the door for the four men. Their names are Burdovsky, Doktorenko, Keller and Hippolite.

The four men are overexcited and display anger towards the Prince. Myshkin says he would prefer to talk to them elsewhere. At this point Madame Yephanchin finds a newspaper article about Myshkin and hands it to him. The Prince says he will read it after he has spoken to the gentlemen, but Madam Yephanchin snatches it from his hands and gives it to Koyla to read.

The article is scandalous containing so many falsities that everyone in the room is embarrassed. It turns out Keller, one of the four men at the door, wrote it and the conversation once again turns to the four men. Keller wrote the article for Burdovsky, who feels he is due some of Myshkin's inheritance money because the Prince's benefactor, Pavlishtchev, is Burdovsky's father. The Prince offers Burdovsky 10,000 roubles, but he refuses. Finally, the Prince announces Ganja has done some research of his own and learned that Pavlischtchev is not Burdovsky's father. The Prince does not blame Burdovsky, saying his friends have lied to him, but the fact is he is not entitled to any money. Everyone looks at Ganja, who stands up to recite his findings.

Ganja tells Burdovsky his real father was a drunkard, dying 8 years into the marriage after spending his wife's entire dowry. He left Burdovsky's mother in poverty and Pavlishtchev took pity on her. Ganja has visited Burdovsky's mother and says she told Burdovsky that Pavlishtchev was fond of him but only because he felt sorry for such a shy, awkward child. Ganja finishes by saying the whole thing is a result of lawyers' lies.

Burdovsky and his friends are unhappy with Ganja's statement and begin causing a scene. It all gets too much for Madam Yephanchin and she flies into a rage, criticizing everybody in the room. She is so angry that the rest of the room is dumbstruck. Eventually, the ill Hippolite lets out a long laugh and Madam Yephanchin turns on him. In reply, he says he does not mean any offense, that he is laughing because the rumors he heard of Madam Yephanchin being a wonderful woman are true. This calms Madam Yephanchin down and she listens to Hippolite's story.

Hippolite is dying from consumption and seems content on causing trouble. First, he tells the room Lebedev proofread the scandalous article and second that the Prince sent Burdovsky's mother money. Lebedev cannot deny his involvement in the article, but says the Prince will forgive him anyway, so what does it matter. This comment makes Madam Yephanchin angry and she insists the Prince reacts. The Prince just shrugs his shoulders.

The Yephanchin's leave the house. Outside a woman approaches Radomsky and tells him not to worry about the I.O.U's because Rogozhin has paid them off. Inside the house, the woman's voice sends a shiver through the Prince's spine.

Adelaide and her fiancé, Prince S., come to see the Prince and tell him about the affair with Radomsky. They think it is impossible for him to know Nastassya. The Prince's next visitor is Ganja. Ganja says Radomsky has had no dealings with Nastassya, but she has been in town for four days and is definitely up to something. Keller comes in next and asks the Prince to give him 25 roubles. Lebedev comes in and the Prince asks him if he was involved with Natassya's appearance yesterday. Lebedev admits he was and that he sent his son to tell her that Radomsky was at the Prince's house. Koyla arrives and sees that the Prince is jealous of Ganja's love for Aglaya. The Prince talks to General Yephanchin, who confirms Radomsky could not possibly have any dealings with Nastassya, but he says he can feel something bad in the air.

After three days of avoiding the Prince, Madame Yephachin comes to see him. She asks why the Prince sent Aglaya a letter and if he is love with her. The Prince explains he only sent the letter as a friend. Madam Yephanchin accepts this but at the same time warns him that he can never marry her daughter. She then shouts at the Prince for not visiting her for three days. The Prince tells Madam Yephanchin that Aglaya sent him a letter forbidding him to come. He shows her the letter and minutes later Madam Yephanchin is marching him to her house.

Part II Ch. VI-XII Analysis

In this section, the scene changes to Pavlovsk, and the novel replaces its dark atmosphere with sunny weather. After his seizure, this is exactly what the Prince needs and it is notable that he becomes far calmer. In contrast, the characters are constantly looking for something to do and hang around the Prince expecting things to happen. In this respect, Lebedev's claim that he edited the scandalous letter shows not necessarily evil doing on his part, but the desire to make a dull life more exciting. Madam Yephanchin is also guilty of this. Throughout the section, she jumps on every little comment, constantly causing a scene, much to the embarrassment of her daughters. She revels in the role of the eccentric, middle-aged woman, particularly shown when Hippolite calms her down by saying how much Hippolite admires her eccentricity.

In the background, Nastassya Flippovna is pulling the strings. First, Dostoevsky shows the effect Nastassya had on Aglaya when Aglaya changes the initials in the Poor Knight poem to Natassya's initials. Later it comes to light that Nastassya sent Aglaya letters trying to persuade her to marry the Prince, and here her words seem to be on the young girl's mind. The poem shows she has thought about the Prince and even tried to understand things from his perspective. However, she comes across as naïve and confused. In this regard, she is not a good match for the Prince, whose spiritual and forgiving nature needs someone like Nastassya, who he can steer away from wrongdoing. The prince's earlier letter calling Aglaya his sister and asking her for her friendship is most likely his true feelings towards Aglaya. His feelings become confused because of his desire to please and also because he knows he is heading for great danger.

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