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

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Part IV Ch. I - V Summary

Varya comes back from the Yepanchin's house depressed. She has been going to the Yepanchins everyday on behalf of her brother in order to help him win Aglaya's hand. When she arrives at her house, she hears her husband and Ganja arguing. She enters to find her husband gone, but Ganja still in the room. Ganja says he wants to throw his father out, as he is making a fool of them. That day their father had already made their mother cry. Varya changes the subject to Aglaya. She says Aglaya is now formally engaged to the Prince, and she doubts her brother has any chance of marrying her. To her surprise, Ganja takes the news well. However, when Varya mention their father was at the Yephanchin's house the previous day, his anger rises again. Varya tells him their father told the Yephachins that Ganja's family was no good. This sends Ganja into a rage. Just as he is cursing his father, he walks in with Koyla and Hippolite.

The General is furious. His passion impresses Ganja, but still Ganja wants the General out of the house, and it is only for Ganja's mother's sake he keeps quiet. When the General finishes, he runs upstairs. His disappearance starts an argument between Ganja and Hippolite. Both men hate each other; Ganja states that a man should not act like Hippolite in someone else's house. In reply, Hippolite states he is Varya's guest and not Ganja's.

Varya finds a note on Ganja's desk from Aglaya. It asks Ganja to meet her at the green bench with his sister. She is just wondering the significance of the note, when the General leaves the house with luggage. Varya runs after him while Ganja stays behind and kisses Aglaya's letter.

The General starts to spend time with Lebedev. Mostly they are drinking, arguing and laughing. Koyla expresses his disgust at their behavior, but the Prince says they have always behaved in this manner. However, one night the Prince hears them arguing loudly, and worried something is wrong, he goes to see the General.

The General begins their conversation by asking the Prince for advice, but as he talks, tears fill his eyes and his speech becomes increasingly disconnected. He ends the conversation by saying he cannot talk to the Prince at this moment. Now even more worried, the Prince calls for Lebedev. Lebeddev skirts the issue and the Prince changes the conversation to the earlier theft of Lebedev's money. Lebedev tells him he found the money a long time ago under the chair in his room. The Prince says that this is impossible and questions Lebedev further. It turns out that the General stole the money, but feeling guilty, he cut a hole in Lebedev's jacket and put the money inside. The money fell out of the jacket and onto the chair. The chapter finishes by stating the Prince waits anxiously for his meeting with the General the next day.

At 12 o'clock, the next day, the Prince enters his house to find the General is already waiting for him. The General states he is leaving Lebedev's house because of their constant arguing. He calls Lebedev a liar, but the Prince point out Lebedev's good points, which the General reluctantly accepts as true. The General then tells a highly improbable story about how he befriended Napoleon as a young boy. Myshkin humors him, but at the same time he knows the General will be angry at the Prince later for showing so much pity.

Outside the Prince's house, Koyla approaches his father, who is sitting on the steps. He tells his father he should come home. His father looks as though he is weeping, but when Koyla looks closely, he sees his father is having a stroke.

Madam Yephanchin thinks about her daughter marrying the Prince. She hears from her other two daughters that the Prince came to the house while she was out. The Prince and Aglaya played chess together, and Aglaya beat him every time. The victory put Aglaya into a good mood and she immediately challenged the Prince to a game of a cards. The Prince beat her every time and upon the fifth defeat, she became angry and said she hated him.

A while later, Aglaya meets Koyla, who has just found a hedgehog. Aglaya buys the hedgehog from him and tells Koyla to give it to the Prince as a present from her. Upon receiving the gift, the Prince is delighted and even more so when Koyla tells him he thinks Aglaya loves him.

The next day the Prince arrives at the Yephanchin house at his usual time. Aglaya is not there but arrives later in the evening. She demands to know if the Prince will marry her and the Prince says yes. He tells Aglaya he loves her, and she starts asking about how much money he has and if he thinks it is enough to support her. She goes on so much, her sisters begin to laugh, thinking it is all a joke. Their jovial mood annoys Madam Yephanchin, and she escorts her three daughters out of the room. Soon Aglaya is in tears screaming she cannot bear the Prince, but it is now obvious to everyone she is love with him. Madam Yephanchin decides if it is her fate to marry the Prince, than who is she to prevent it. Eventually the Prince leaves the Yephanchin house in a great mood.

Part IV Ch. I - V Analysis

In this section and for the remainder of the final part, Dostevsky raises the tension. Whereas before people were coming to the Prince asking for his advice, he is now arranging meetings himself and trying to solve problems that are not his own. In particular, he becomes embroiled with General Ivolgin and Lebedyev's argument. It is hard to pinpoint his motives, but his mood has certainly changed with his involvement with the beautiful Aglaya. Before he saw no way out from his destructive relationship with Natassya and Rogzhin, but now that there is potential for genuine happiness he is back to his old instinctive self.

In this section, the confused Aglaya cannot cope with her love for the Prince. One minute she is smiling and joking with him and the next, she is telling him how much she hates him. However, the Prince takes Aglaya's strange behavior into stride and his clear thinking reminds the reader of how Dostoevsky described the beginning of an epileptic fit in the second section. He said that before a seizure, an epileptic acts disconnected and distant. In the previous section, both Rogozhin and Radomsky comment on the Prince's strange behavior.

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