Unizhennye i Oskorblennye/ Insulted and Injured/ Umiliati e Offesi (1862)
is a minor work. The first half creates tension and suspense, and the general
theme of the pride of poor oppressed and betrayed people is powerful enough,
but the second
half's plot is frequently amateurish (for example, the protagonist realizes that
Yelena is the daughter of the prince long after the reader already has)
and further marred by a
melodramatic reconciliation. The central tenet itself is hardly credible: that two
wonderful women would compete for the affection of a miserable idiot whose only
asset is to be the son of a prince, and one of them would completely ruin her
family for such a man.
This parable is however more complex than it appears because
the evil man gets what he wants, the idiot gets a beautiful wife and money,
whereas the "humiliated" ones all lose: the legitimate daughter dies,
the protagonist is dying, the betrayed woman is ruined, her parents are
broke. Their pride does not yield any material reward.
The protagonist is walking around the capital, looking for a new room to rent.
In a German confectionery, whose guests are mostly German, he recognizes an
old man who keeps the company of an old dog and never says anything to anyone.
Confronted by a customer, the old man tries to leave but realizes that his dog
has died. Outside the old man himself dies after speaking a few words to the
protagonist: an address. It turns out it is not his real address. The old
man, originally from England, lived in a humble room nearby in an overcrowded building and
in utter poverty. Nonetheless, the protagonist decides to take that room.
Still puzzled by the address that the old man uttered before dying, the
protagonist walks there.
The protagonist is a writer and is getting sick, coughing in an unnatural manner.
The second chapter reveals that these are his memories. He just started writing
them from the hospital where he is dying, at the young age of 25, not having
achieved the literary masterpiece he was dreaming of back then. His memories
start with his happy childhood in the countryside: an orphan, he grew up with
the daughter of a neighbor, Natasha. Natasha's father was a wealthy man who
had lost most of his fortune at cards, but then had been hired to manage the
vast property of prince Valkovsky.
For many years this arrangement had worked to the benefit of both, and both
had respected each other. One day the prince, another man who had lost his
fortune but regained it by marrying the ugly illiterate daughter of a rich
merchant and had had a child from her before causing her to die of heartbreak,
sent his teenage son to the province to punish him for his misconduct in the
capital. The son was then a handsome boy who charmed everybody, and it was a
mystery was crime he had committed (despite rumours of a duel over a lady).
One year later an anonymous letter had informed the prince that his trusted
estate manager was scheming against him. The town gossiped that Natasha had
been encouraged to seduce the prince's son Alyosha. The prince rushed to the estate,
fired the manager and even sued him for some dubious transactions. Before the
innocence of the manager and of Natasha could be proved, the two men were at
war, and the manager risked losing his fortune in the fight against the much
more powerful prince. Natasha was not even aware of the whole gossip.
And so it was that Natasha's father decided to move to the capital, taking
his wife and daughter with him. Meanwhile, the protagonist (who is finally
named), Vanya, had completed in secret his first novel and obtained
ecstatic reviews from important scholars. His step-parents and Natasha
were proud of him, and the financial success meant that he could finally
hope to marry Natasha. He proposed, and Natasha accepted; but her parents asked
them to postpone any decision by one year. Vanya had neither a government
post nor friends in the aristocracy, the two things that really mattered.
The parents were practical people and first wanted to see how a writer could
a family. One year later they were proven right: Vanya's literary career was
a failure. Meanwhile, Alyosha had come to visit them, but this had further
angered his father, the prince, and therefore made the situation of Natasha's
father even worse. They were being driven to poverty by the bitter prince
simply because the price's son liked them, while the prince was still accusing
them of using Natasha to seduce his son.
Vanya went to visit them after a long hiatus, looking pale and sick, and found
a completely different Natasha: she confessed to him that the gossip was true,
that she was indeed secretely in love with Alyosha, that in fact they had
agreed to elope and get married, her love so great and so insane that she was
willing not only to ruin herself but to ruin her own parents, because the prince
could now prove publicly that his theory had always been right. Then Natasha
confessed an even worse side of the story: that Alyosha was a simpleton
incapable of real love, that his father wanted him to marry a rich and beautiful
woman, and that Alyosha might just do that if Natasha did not agree to leave
her parents. In other words, Alyosha was not madly in love at all. It was
Natasha who could not bear the thought of losing Alyosha. Alyosha had told his
father: therefore Alyosha's father had always been right in fighting the
friendship between his son and Natasha's father. The story as viewed from
Natasha's parents was a story of cruel injustice, but viewed from the prince
it was a silly love story and an obstacle to a good marriage.
Vanya tried in vain to change Natasha's mind: she was just too determined to
get Alyosha, no matter what. However, Natasha also confessed that she loved
Vanya as a brother, and maybe more than she loved Alyosha, just in a different
way. Then Vanya confronted Alyosha, who proved to be a naive and lunatic
character, hopeful that his father would forgive him, that all would end well,
but with no real plan. Natasha was entrusting her future to a dreamer, but
there was nothing to stop her.
Back to the present, Vanya is now getting sicker by the day in the old Englishman's
room, which is even worse than his previous lodging. Natasha's father reproaches
him for having chosen the literary career, which is taking him to the grave.
Natasha's parents, having lost both Vanya and Natasha, are now thinking of
adopting an orphan. Vanya happens to meet the granddaughter of the old Englishman:
she comes looking for him and Vanya tells her that he died. Vanya guesses that
the mysterious address is probably the address where the girl lives.
Natasha is in trouble. As expected, the prince has never consented to the
marriage and Alyosha is now leaning towards marrying the other girl.
Natasha's mother has already learned the whole story: the prince had an
affair with a penniless countess who demands to get married, but the prince
has counteroffered to marry her stepdaughter and Alyosha. This marriage would
bring in money through a relative of the countess. Alyosha had told Natasha
that he was falling in love with the countess' stepdaughter.
Natasha's father is all but ruined by now. He is further devastated in hearing
that Natasha is about to be abandoned. But this gossip is not completely true.
Alyosha has indeed wasted all his money, and even cheated on Natasha, and
Natasha has been willing to accept anything out of love. She forgave him,
she moved to a cheaper place by herself, she started working to make money,
and now she tells Vanya that she is willing to leave Alyosha in order to give
him the freedom that he needs to marry the rich girl and solve all his problems.
They are surprised by Alyosha, who announces that he has just told Katya (the
rich girl chosen by his father) that he is in love with another woman. Katya
(still an adolescent) now refuses to marry him.
Just then the prince in person walks in. He tells Natasha that he has been
keeping an eye on her, and has come to respect her. He now believes in the
innocence of her father and in the sincerity of her love. Given that nothing
would change Alyosha's mind, he is now willing to forgive and approve the
marriage between them. He is also gracious towards Vanya, who has witnessed
the visit, but is struck by the address where Vanya lives.
Vanya meets the poor girl again, the granddaughter of the old Englishman. Her name is
Yelena. Vanya follows her and finds out that she is an orphan adopted and
enslaved by an evil drunk woman, Bubnova, to whom her mother owed money before dying.
When the woman starts beating the poor child, Vanya comes out and confronts
her. The terrified Yelena has an epileptic fit.
Later Vanya meets his old friend Filip, a drunkard who now occasionally works
as a detective and therefore knows something about everybody. He knows that
Bubnova is running a prostitution ring and they visit Bubnova just in time
to save Yelena from her first sexual encounter. Vanya takes Yelena to his
place and takes care of her while she is sick. He even buys her new clothes
with borrowed money.
Vanya senses that something is wrong with Natasha, and eventually the maid
tells him that Alyosha has disappeared.
Natasha's father, having heard of the planned marriage, decides to challenge
the prince to a duel. Vanya is shocked that the man would destroy his
daughter's chance of happiness, but her father is certain that the marriage
is a trap, that the evil prince would have never consented to it unless he
had a hidden motive, and he is determined to restore his honor anyway now that
his lawsuit is definitely lost.
When Vanya falls sick from all this excitement,
it is Yelena to take care of him. Despite being still a child, she behaves
like his faithful maid. Yelena tells me the story of her grandfather, which
bears striking similarity to the story of Natasha's father: he too never
forgave his daughter when she ran away with an aristocrat, Yelena was born
abroad, then her mother was abandoned by the seducer and lost everything,
returned to Russia only to become a beggar and never see her father again
anyway, and eventually died of consumption,
but the old Englishman died of poverty and loneliness too. And Yelena, the
fruit of that illicit passion, hated her grandfather. All of this because the
old Englishman never forgave Yelena's mother, just like Natasha's father
refuses to forgive Natasha.
Vanya is invited when the prince comes back to visit Natasha. Finally, Alyosha
shows up. His justification for neglecting Natasha is that he has joined a
group of intellectuals who want to change the world, and Katya has promised to
be their benefactor. Natasha, hurt that Alyosha has spent days with Katya
and not a minute with her, accuses the prince of having consented to the
marriage only to buy time, hoping that Alyosha, mentally a child, would
fall more and more in love with Katya, which is precisely what is happening.
The prince, who been laughing at his son's idealistic feelings and mocking
him for wasting his time with the intellectuals, protests that Natasha is just
a hysterical jealous woman and leaves.
Vanya finds out that Filip visited Yelena while she was home alone. Filip also
asked to see him for some important business. Vanya finds the prince at
Filip's place, and guesses that there must be some business deal between them.
Filip, however, sends him away and asks him to come back later for some
important revelations. Vanya comes back and Filip has nothing to tell him.
This is all very strange. Filip gets drunk, as usual, and hints that the prince
once stole money from an Englishman and seduced his daughter, causing both
to get ruined.
Filip swears he is being a friend to Vanya, although he admits being a scoundrel in general, and warns him that the prince is a treacherous person, just like Natasha suspects; but Filip cannot be more specific.
Vanya walks back home and finds the prince there, and Yelena
terrified. The prince is inviting him to go and meet Katya's mother, the
countess. Vanya senses that Filip's visit to Yelena while she was alone and
now the prince's visit while Filip was keeping Vanya out are related, and that
somehow they have to do with the prince's past. Yelena refuses to say why
she is scared of the prince.
Vanya takes the opportunity to finally meet with Katya. He finds her to be
still a child, but a good person overall. Katya sympathyzes with Natasha
and takes her side whenever Alyosha does not realize the ruined woman's
situation. Katya too knows that the price is an evil man and is scheming
to get her money. Katya realizes that the prince is brainwashing his idiot
son to believe that life with Natasha will be a nightmare, that she is
selfish and jealous. Katya and Vanya, however, have reached the same conclusion:
that Natasha will not be happy with Alyosha. Katya can't wait to meet Natasha
and tell her what she thinks. She is not trying to steal Alyosha from Natasha,
but only to save them from making a mistake.
The prince has a chat alone with Vanya and reveals the depth of his depravity.
He basically offers money to Vanya if he marries Natasha, and threatens Natasha
of massive retaliation if she stands between Alyosha and Katya, admitting
frankly that he is determined to get Katya's money.
Filip, meanwhile, continues to visit Yelena when Vanya is not home. Then
suddenly Yelena, who is just recovering from yet another epileptic fit,
repeatedly tries to leave Vanya for unknown reasons.
The prince has won. Alyosha has recognized that he loves Katya better than
Natasha and Natasha has accepted it. Alyosha is to leave town with his father,
the countess and Katya. Satisfied that his plan is working, the prince also
decides to give back the money that he won in the lawsuit against Natasha's
father. The father, however, takes this as a personal insult and tries in
vain to challenge the prince to a duel. He is even arrested for a few days
and then goes delirious, swearing to curse his daughter forever.
Natasha and Katya finally meet and exchange tender words. They are concerned
about who will make Alyosha happier, and Alyosha behaves like a helpless
idiot as usual. Natasha generously wishes them all the best, but is
devastated by the breakup. The prince makes it worse by showing up with the
money that her father did not accept and trying to buy her (now a ruined woman)
for an influential old count who can also help her father. She reacts just like
her father, and Vanya, alerted by her screams, kicks the prince out.
Vanya, worried about Natasha's future, then begs Yelena to help him convince
Natasha's father to forgive.
The trick works: both parents are moved to tears by Yelena's account of how
her grandfather caused her mom to die of heartbreak in utter poverty. They
don't need to go to Natasha's because Natasha is coming to them. She is forgiven
and they all move in together.
Vanya completes his novel and makes some money. Natasha's family decides to
move out of the capital, but Yelena refuses. Yelena is very sick and
frequently delirious. The doctor thinks she will die soon. Filip has kept
visiting her and one day he finally explains to Vanya his motive: he guessed
a while back that Yelena might be the daughter of the prince, and even a
legitimate daughter. Filip blackmailed the prince not to publicize the
matter, and the prince paid him handsomely, but now Filip has regrets and
would like to help the poor girl. Alas, Yelena dies before they can investigate
the matter. Before dying she begs Vanya to marry Natasha and she gives Vanya
a letter that her mother wrote to the prince: in the letter the mother clearly
states that Yelena is the legitimate daughter of the prince, but the proud
Yelena never used the letter to claim what she was entitled to, preferring to
die poor. Natasha meditates on how happy she and Vanya could have been if she
had not betrayed him. (The novel ends without returning to the hospital from
which apparently Vanya has been writing this story while dying).
Prestupleniye i Nakazaniye/ Crime and Punishment (1866)
is a psychological novel (almost the entire action of the first two sections
takes place in the protagonist's mind - even the scene after the murder, when people find the dead body, is told through his imagination)
but also a message-oriented novel (against "ideological intoxication" as caused
by manic depression and as a cause of crime)
The plot roughly resembles the stereotype made popular by
Honore de Balzac's Rastignac and Stendhal's Julien Sorel (the innocent soul
corrupted by the city). However, the tone is much darker.
There are frequent Biblical references, notably the role of Sonja, who is
basically the equivalent of Mary Magdalene (Sonja pledges to follow Rodja
to prison the same way that Mary Magdalene followed Jesus who was carrying
the cross), and Rodja might indeed die to save the rest of humankind (or at
least his immediate relatives and friends, who can now live a happier life),
with Porfiry being the Pilate who judges him in the name of the establishment.
Dostoevsky's novels pioneer the "stream of consciousness" and psychological
introspection three decades before Freud. The novel frequently uses dreams to
analyze the soul's torment; and one of the leitmotifs is the psychological
chess game between the murderer and the inspector.
Rodion "Rodja" Raskolnikov is a poor young man who moved to the city to study but has
since dropped off school and now lives a secluded life. In a tavern he meets
a middle-age drunkard, Marmeladov, whose daughter Sonja has become a prostitute
after her stepmother Katerina (Marmeladod's second wife) accused her of not
helping feed the three little children. The drunkard has been missing from home
for five days, has squandered all his money in alcohol, and has certainly lost his job, thus making things even worse.
Rodja takes the man to his wife and then leaves them a little money,
even though he probably needs it more than them. When he returns to his
humble flat, the landlady Praskovja demands that he pays the outstanding rent,
but Rodja has no money. He receives a letter from his mother, who relates
how Rodja's good and beautiful sister Avdotya or "Dunja" went to work for the wealthy
Svidrigailov but became the object of his lust and was publicly accused by
Svidrigailov's wife Marfa of being a whore. When Marfa found out the truth,
she publicly apologized to Marfa. Dunja in the meantime found a fiance, a
wealthy middle-aged lawyer who works in the city, Luzin. His mother tells him
that Luzin might even hire him as his partner some day. Rodja, sensing that
his sister is basically "selling" herself to support his studies, is disgusted,
and determined to derail the marriage. Ultimately he is disgusted by himself,
by how precious his family thinks he is and by what a failure he is.
While taking a stroll in the street, Rodja notices a drunk girl who is being
followed by a depraved man and alerts a police officer. The cop, however, is
not very interested in saving the girl's reputation.
Rodja has been living off his valuables by pawning them with Alyona, the
After a terrible dream, Rodja has a premonition that he will kill the old
woman. He interprets it as a sign that he accidentally overhears a conversation
telling him at what time Alyona's sister Lizaveta, a simple-minded spinster,
will leave their flat. Another sign is that he accidentally overhears a
conversation in which one of Alyona's angry customer states that Alyona does
not deserve to live.
At the time when Lizaveta is supposed to leave the flat, Rodja walks there with
an axe and kills Alyona. He then steals a few things but is interrupted by
Lizaveta, who has returned earlier. Rodja kills her too. At this point he is
almost found by two men who come to visit Alyona. Luckily they both walk
downstairs to warn the concierge that something is wrong (the door is clearly
locked from the inside). Rodja gets out and briefly stops in an empty flat that
is being painted. He walks outside the building and into a courtyard where he
hides the stolen goods. Then he returns home.
The following day Rodja is alarmed by a notice to appear at the police station,
where he meets officer Ilya and clerk Zametov, a friend of Rodja's friend Razumikin.
He fears that the police have already found out that he is the murderer.
Instead, it's about his landlady's intimation to pay overdue rent.
Rodja visits his best friend, Dimitri Razumikin, whom he has not seen in four
months. But Rodja's behavior is so erratic and unfriendly that he only manages
to upset his generous and caring friend. On his way back home Rodja is almost
run over by a coach.
Back home he gets delirious, and his landlady's faithful servant Nastasja
takes care of him. His conditions get quickly worse. He doesn't recognize his
friend Razumikin, who comes to visit him in the company of Zametov, and
resents Razumikin's help when he pays his debt with some money sent by his mother (the money increases his depression).
Razumikin calls a doctor, Zosimov. When Rodja gets better,
Razumikin invites him to a party, but Rodja rudely declines.
Rodja learns that the police have arrested one of the two painters, Nikolaj, who was working in the
empty flat where he briefly stopped. The evidence is an object belonging to the
murdered woman that Rodja must have dropped while hiding there.
Razumikin, however, has guessed the truth: that the painter is innocent and the
real murderer got away undisturbed. He also guesses correctly that the murderer
is an amateur, a beginner.
Luzin visits Rodja while Razumikin and Zosimov are still there. Rodja offends
him and then kicks everybody out of his flat.
When he meets Zametov again, Rodja plays cat and mouse with him, hinting that
he himself might be the murderer of Alyona. He laughs hysterical at his own
Later he witnesses a police officer saving the life of a girl who tried
to drown herself. He is indifferent to the event. He has decided to surrender
himself to the police and confess his crime.
On his way to the police station, however, another extraordinary event changes
his mind. He witnesses the accident in which the drunkard
Marmeladod is killed by a coach. He has him carried to his family's place and
personally pays for a doctor, and then leaves some money for the funeral.
Now Rodja wants to live. He walks to Razumikin's party, where the friend gets
drunk. They walk together back to Rodja's apartment where they are surprised
to find Rodja's mother Pulcheria and Rodja's sister Dunja, just arrived to the
city for the engagement. They haven't seen him in three years and are shocked
to find him so ill.
Razumikin is drunk but manages to reassure them that a doctor is taking care
of Rodja. He also falls in love with Dunja, and gets extremely jealous when
the doctor, a notorious womanizer, makes a comment on her beauty.
Razumikin, instead, tries to set up Zosimov with Rodja's landlady,
Praskovja, except that she shows no desire for male company.
Razumikin visits Dunja and Pulcheria and learns that Luzin has sent a letter
demanding not to see Rodja ever again. Luzin has also learned that Rodja gave
money to a prostitute, Marmeladod's daughter Sonja, and points out that the money
was painfully saved for him by his mother: clearly the son is ungrateful.
Razumikin tells Dunja and Pulcheria the story of how Rodja almost got married to Praskovja's daughter before the girl died.
However, Razumikin believes that Rodja is not capable of loving.
Mother and sister,
always escorted by Razumikin,
visit Rodja again in the morning. They tell him that
Marfa has died and that she gave an expensive watch to Dunja.
Rodja feels a lot better, and they hope that he changed his mind about Luzin.
Instead, he coldly threatens his sister that he will repudiate her if she goes
ahead with this wedding. Nonetheless, the women invite him to attend the
meeting with Luzin, and Dunja invites
While they are still in Rodja's flat,
Marmeladod's daughter Sonja walks in. Humble and ashamed, she thanks Rodja for
the money and invites him to the funeral.
As Sonja walks back home, she doesn't realize that a middle-aged man is
following her. Coincidentally, he lives next door to her family's flat, and
tells her that he just arrived in town.
Rodja, who is now much calmer and more lucid, asks Razumikin for a favor
(after teasing him for being madly in love with Dunja).
He confesses that he had pawned objects that are dear to his mother (his
father's watch and her sister's ring) and now would like to file a claim with
the detective in charge of the murder, Porfirij,
who happens to be a relative of Razumikin.
Razumikin gladly escorts him to Portifij's place, where they also find Zametov.
Rodja quickly realizes that he is the object of Portifij's investigation.
Porfirij already knows that Rodja was pawning objects with the old lady,
Porfirij is also familiar with an article that Rodja wrote, in which he
basically claimed that extraordinary men can bypass the law and commit
a crime in the superior interest of humankind. Porfirij is not particularly
subtle in insinuating that Rodja might have decided to follow that principle
and kill the pawnbroker.
Razumikin himself is shocked when he understands what is going on: they
Later a stranger shows up at Rodja's building and asks the concierge if Rodja
lives there. But then he leaves before the concierge can call Rodja.
Rodja chases him to find out what it was about. The man, a craftsman, stares
and him and simply tells him: "murderer". Rodja is paralyzed by terror and
lets the stranger walk away. Rodja returns home: he is delirious again.
When he wakes up a new stranger is standing in his flat. He introduces
himself as Svidrigailov, the man who tried to seduce his sister, Marfa's
widower. He claims that his love for Dunja is sincere and that he would like
to elope with her to another country. He is aware of Luzin's marriage proposal
and thinks lowly of the man. He intends to donate quite a bit of
money to her, although he is not rich himself.
He just doesn't want Dunja to marry Luzin.
Svidrigailov seems to have no moral scruples. He almost admits that he has led
his wife to commit suicide, but feels no remorse whatsoever. His wife rescued
him from jail when he had lost all his money with his gambling activities,
and then he felt that he had become her "prisoner" because she owned his debt.
He became very angry at his wife when he learned that she was the one who
had arranged the marriage between Dunja and Luzin.
Now he sees apparitions of Marfa's ghost, but is not scared.
He is a corrupt and lazy man but at least he is honest and does not try to
In a sense, he is the "extraordinary" (i.e., amoral)
man that Rodja described in his article.
He also informs Rodja that Marfa in her will left a sum of money for Dunja.
Finally, he reveals that he is planning to get married soon with another woman,
and therefore he is no threat to Dunja's reputation.
Rodja and Razumikin attend the meeting between Luzin and Rodja's mother and
sister. Luzin knows that Svidrigailov has come to the city looking for Dunja.
Luzin relates some terrible stories of this scoundrel's past: a deaf and mute
teenager hanged herself after being raped by
Svidrigailov and so did a servant who was psychologically abused by him.
Rodja then calmly tells them that Svidrigailov has just visited him, and also
tells them that Marfa has left money for Dunja.
Rodja and Luzin then get into an argument about Sonja: Luzin has insinuated
that Rodja left money to Sonja (Rodja left it to the whole family for the
funeral of Marmeladod) and Rodja replies that he respects Sonja. In fact he
admits that he introduced her to his mother and his sister. His mother and
his sister are shocked, but Luzin's arrogant attitude eventually gets on their
nerves and they too turn against him. Dunja kicks him out and breaks the
engagement. After he has left, Rodja informs Dunja that the depraved
Svidrigailov wants to leave her an even greater amount of money than Marfa
Razumikin, who is devoted as usual to Dunja, has an idea: they could put
all their money together and start a publishing house. Rodja likes the idea
and encourages Dunja to accept, but then suddenly his mood collapses and he
leaves them rudely, asking to be left alone.
Rodja visits Sonja, who is surprised and ashamed. He gets more evidence
of Sonja's good heart. She is not angry at her stepmother for forcing her
into prostitution. On the contrary, Sonja feels pity for her. Rodja informs
her that most likely the stepmother will die soon of tuberculosis. She
immediately worries about the three children. Rodja cynically suggests that
the little girl, Polecka, will probably become a prostitute too.
He then kisses Sonja's feet.
Sonia has a copy of the Bible that Lizaveta (the murdered pawnbroker) gave her.
Rodja asks her to read the episode of Lazarus.
Before leaving Rodja tells Sonja in a sinister tone that he knows who killed Lizaveta.
Rodja and Sonja do not know that Svidrigailov has taken a room in the same
building and has eavesdropped on their conversation.
Rodja walks into Porfiry's police office with the excuse of delivering
the certificate that he pawned a watch with Lizaveta. Rodja is less and less
sure about what is reality and what is hallucination.
Always speaking in a pleasant and friendly tone, as if he was trying to become
Porfiry plays cat and mouse again, hinting that he knows everything about
Rodja and describing the behavior of a typical murderer in a way that mimics
precisely what Rodja is doing. Rodja understands (or thinks he understands)
Porfify's strategy for making him confess and eventually loses his temper,
screaming that Porfiry only has conjectures against him and challenging him
to find any evidence (and de-facto admitting
that he committed the murder). Rodja insults Porfiry and is about to run out of
his office when Porfiry asks him to wait for a surprise. However, the one to
be surprised is Porfiry himself, because Nikolaj, the painter who has been
arrested for the murder, bursts into the office and confesses he is indeed
the murderer. Porfiry is annoyed by the confession, that he understands not
being honest, and Rodja smiles realizing that Nikolaj is simply a victim of
Portify's psychological torture, the same torture that Porfiry has been
using against Rodja. Rodja walks home without knowing what was the surprise
that Porfiry had for him, but such surprise shows up at his flat: it's
the craftsman who had called him "murderer". This mysterious man had seen
and heard Rodja when he went back to the murder scene, and deducted his guilt
and reported it to Porfiry. He was in the room next to Porfiry's office
just when Rodja walked in. Now that he has heard Nikolaj's confession he has
come to apologize to Rodja for suspecting him.
Rodja feels relieved that Porfiry does not have any evidence against him.
Rodja's mood keeps swinging between self-destructive (an impulse to turn
himself in and end the torture) and fight (the desire to stand up to the
powerless investigators), two poles that are manifestations of his view of
himself, one pathetic and one heroic, that compete for control of his mind.
Luzin regrets the end of his engagement with the pretty Dunja (we hear his
stream of consciousness). He also regrets that he spent money on a new
home and its furniture, money that will be wasted if there is no wedding.
He is staying in the flat of his old pupil Lebeziatnikov, that happens to be
located in the same building as the Marmeladov's. Luzin has been invited by
the widow, Katerina, to attend the memorial after the funeral, but has
already declined like most of the neighbors because of Sonja's bad
Luzin decided to stay with Lebeziatnikov because this young man is a
liberal, affiliated with the anarchists and nihilists, and Luzin is anxious
to find out what exactly they want, whether they have power, how they could
harm him or how he could benefit from them. However, Luzin soon realizes that
Lebeziatnikov is a mediocre man who dreams of unrealistic and childish communes.
Lebeziatnikov has even tried to redeem Sonja and educate her by lending her
books. In his commune there will be no prostitutes because there will be no
marriages, only free unions among men and women.
Lebeziatnikov explains that virginity is an obsolete value.
Luzin asks Lebeziatnikov to summon Sonja. Luzin behaves like a generous man:
he offers to organize a charity for the family and gives Sonja some money.
Sonja is grateful and Lebeziatnikov, who thought Luzin was a heartless miser,
is pleasantly surprised.
Later the reception in Katerina's flat is a disaster, as Katerina is humiliated
that so many people declined her invitation and blames
their German landlady Amalia, when in fact Amalia has nothing to do with it
and the cause is obviously Sonja's profession. The two women eventually start
yelling at each other, and Amalia, insulted, asks Katerina (who still hasn't
paid rent) to move out. At that moment Luzin enters the apartment, claiming
that Sonja stole money. Sonja protests her innocence, but her own mother finds
the stolen bill in her pockets. Luzin has humiliated Sonja in front of
everybody, but suddenly Lebeziatnikov stands up and tells everybody what he saw:
he saw Luzin putting that bill into Sonja's pocket, and thought Luzin was being
generous and didn't want to embarrass Sonja with his generosity. Now it's Luzin
who is humiliated in front of everybody. Rodja, who has watched silently,
explains that Luzin was probably trying to humiliate him, Rodja, knowing that
Rodja had befriended the girl.
The result of the fracas is that Amalia evicts Katerina and her children
while Lebeziatnikov evicts Luzin.
Rodja meets Sonja and confesses his crime, and even tells her where the loot
is hidden. Although terrified, Sonja is ready to follow him anywhere.
They are distracted by another fracas: Katerina is gone mad. They find her
in the streets, where she makes a scene until she collapses. She dies after
a brief agony in Sonja's room.
Svidrigailov tells Rodja that he overheards enough of his conversation with
Sonja that he knows Rodja's secret. However,
Svidrigailov does not seem to have any evil intention towards Rodja.
In fact, he reveals his good side by donating his money to Katerina's orphans
(the money that he wanted to give to Dunja).
Porfiry comes to visit Rodja. This time he doesn't play games, or he plays the
mother of all games: he admits that he suspects Rodja of the murder, despite
Nikolaj's confession. He has analyzed the murderer and analyzed Nikolaj, and
Nikolaj does not match. Rodja, on the other hand, is the perfect match.
However, Rodja regains his will to fight whenever he has to deal with the
authority, and therefore insists he is innocent. Porfiry even hints that
Rodja might be considering suicide, in which case Porfify begs Rodja to leave
a note revealing where he hid the loot.
Rodja suspects that Svidrigailov might be planning to blackmail Dunja now that
he knows Rodja's secret, so Rodja meets Svidrigailov to threaten him with death
if he ever tries that strategy with his sister.
Svidrigailov is a degenerate man but he doesn't sound proud at all of his life.
He admits that he lusts for young girls and confesses that he plans to marry
a 16-year old girl.
Rodja realizes that Svidrigailov is still fantasizing about his sister Dunja,
and is determined to prevent him from haunting her.
But Svidrigailov outsmarts Rodja. He lures Dunja to his apartment with the
promise of revealing her brother's secret. Then he does precisely what Rodja
feared: he shows her how he eavesdropped on the conversations between Rodja
and Sonja, he tells her what he heard (Rodja's confession), and he offers to
use his influential connections to save Rodja if Dunja accepts to be his
mistress. Dunja tries to run away but
Svidrigailov has locked the door, and he shows to her how desperate her
situation is: she voluntarily entered his apartment, she cannot call the
police because he would immediately turn her brother in, and there is nobody
in the building to defend her. Dunja accuses him of being a murderer (she
knows that he poisoned his wife Marfa) and pulls out a pistol.
As he moves towards her, she shoots but misses him. Then she pulls the trigger
again but the pistol fails.
Now Svidrigailov could easily rape her but suddenly he wants her to want him,
or at least to give him a chance. When she firmly rejects him,
his conscience wakes up after a long hybernation and he lets her go.
Svidrigailov puts the pistol in his pocket and spends the rest of the night
getting drunk in horrible dives. He gives money to Sonja, who would like to
refuse it butunderstands she might need it if she really wants to follow
Rodja when he gets sentenced to a prison in Siberia (the usual sentence for
murderers). When he falls asleep, Svidrigailov has a nightmare in which a
little girl turns into a prostitute. When he wakes up, he walks out, pulls out
the pistol from his pocket and shoots himself.
Rodja visits his mother telling her (who probably already understood the truth)
that he is leaving on a trip. His mother is devastated and seems to go mad.
He then finds Dunja waiting for him and tells her
that he has decided to confess. Dunja thinks that he is feeling guilty, but
instead Rodja screams that he did not commit any crime, that he killed a vile
being who deserved to die. Rodja is ashamed of himself only because he is not
strong enough to live with his belief.
Lastly, Rodja visits Sonja to tell her that he is heading towards
the police station. Sonja pledges to follow him in his trip to Siberia, which
will be Rodja's Calvary.
At the police station Rodja almost changes his mind but then learns that
Svidrigailov shot himself and somehow the shocking news does it: Rodja admits
to both murders.
Rodja is sentenced to eight years of hard labor in Siberia.
Sonja follows him, as promised.
Razumikin marries Dounia, but Rodja's mother never recovers from her delirious
and eventually dies.
In Siberia neither the physical nor the mental health of Rodja improve. He is
still a nihilist at heart, who does not look forward to his future. He will
still be young when he gets out of prison. When Sonja falls sick, though, he
finally finds a reason to live: he realizes how much he loves her. They are
now both waiting together for those seven years to go by and for their life
to begin. Rodja opens the copy of the Gospel that Sonja gave him, the one
from which she read him the resurrection of Lazarus.
The Idiot (1868) is the parable of a naive man who only sees good but
is surrounded by evil, a sort of Jesus who has to sacrifice himself to
redeem the rest of humankind. It is his simple, caste and pure love that
redeems the female sinner.
The simpler his view of the world, the thicker
and more twisted the world is, an orgy of duplicity and deception.
The society that Dostoevsky depicts is greedy
and narrow-minded; materialistic and amoral. At the same time, though,
the protagonist of this allegory is indeed an idiot (a man of little
intelligence who can hardly express himself and control himself), whereas the
people around him are mostly very intelligent, so the novel also feels like
exposing the inevitable evil that follows from human intellect. Goodness is
to be found only in simpler, dumber people. Humankind is doomed to self-destroy
because it is doomed to be so intelligent.
Human intelligence begets greed, envy and revenge, which are the recurring
themes of the story; while the idiot's limited intelligence begets love and
The novel overflows with characters, as if as huge crowd were needed to show
how derelict an innocent being can be. The plot thickens and shifts all the
time, as a result of the continuous deception and intrigue carried out
by each of them.
The irony of this savior is that he causes the unhappiness (even the death)
of both the women he likes, of both Mary Magdalene and the divine angel.
On a very long train ride from Poland to St Petersburg, three passengers share
a crowded car.
One is the decayed prince Lev Myshkin, an epileptic who is returning
to Russia after spending four years in a Swiss sanatorium that restored a bit
of sanity. As a child he was almost an idiot.
The second one is Parfyon Rogozhin, a young man who is returning home after
The third one is a middle-aged civil servant, Lebedev.
The prince is coming back because the man who was paying for his expenses,
Pavlishtchev, has died, and now he hopes to get some aid from a distant
relative, the rich wife of general Yepanchin.
The civil servant knows the family well.
Parfyon Rogozhin, on the other hand, is the son of a rich man who just died,
and therefore probably the heir to a fortune.
The civil servant know the story of Rogozhin's father too.
A few weeks earlier, Rogozhin had fallen in love with
Nastasya Filippovna. The civil servant knows everything about her too.
She lives with an older and very rich man, Afanasy Totsky, who also happens
to be a friend of the general.
When his father charged Rogozhin with cashing some money, the young man used
the money to buy expensive ear-rings for Nastasya. When his father found out,
he personally went to beg Nastasya to return the rings.
Rogozhin, ashamed and afraid of the coming punishment, took the first train out
of town. Now that his father died, he is returning home to take possession of
part of the inheritance. He invites the poor prince to join him when he pays
his visit to Nastasya. The prince candidly confesses that he is still a virgin,
having been sick all his life.
The general Yepanchin has three beautiful daughters, ranging from Alexandra
to Adelaida to the youngest, Aglaya, of whom everybody is fond. The prince has a long
discussion with the valet who is supposed to announce him. The valet gets
suspicious because the prince does not behave like a prince at all, and is
dressed quite poorly, and candidly admits being poor. The prince even
befriends the poor servant, narrating stories and explaining his opinions
on a number of subjects.
The wife of the general, Lisaveta,
and Lev are the last Myshkin princes left, although
not closely related.
The price meets the general and does not hesitate to admit that he is penniless
and has no idea how to survive in the capital.
The prince tells the story of his life and admits that he, being an orphan
since childhood, has no idea why
his benefactor Pavlishtchev wsa paying for his sanatorium.
The prince is introduced yet again to the name of
Nastasya. The general and his secretary and friend Ganya
are getting ready for her birthday party.
The general seems much more excited about the event than Ganya, who seems to
merely obey the general's orders.
The general is kind to the prince. After seeing his skills at calligraphy,
the general promises a job. He sends the prince to Ganya's mother, who rents
rooms from her house to make ends meet. The other room is rented to a
certain Ferdyshchenko, who (adds the general towards Ganya) pretends to be
a relative of Nastasya.
At the same time the general discourages the prince from associating with
Rogozhin. The news of Rogozhin's return annoy both the general and Ganya.
The general's fortune were growing exponentially. His daughters were therefore
both beautiful and rich. This attracted the attention of the 55-year old
who asked to marry the elder, Alexandra. The general viewed favorably the
union of their fortunes. There were two problems, though, and they both
related to Nastasya. The first one was that the wife of the general, Lisaveta,
disapproved of Totsky living with Nastasya. The other one was that Totsky was
afraid of Nastasya's reaction to the engagement.
Totsky had adopted Nastasya when she was a child and a poor orphan. He had
paid for her education. She had grown to become not only a gorgeous woman but
also a very independent mind. He had seduced the teenager.
When she became a woman, upon hearing that
he was about to marry, she travelled to the capital to prevent the marriage.
She had spent the next five years living with Totsky, both seducer and seduced.
Totsky had become fearful of her motives. She was proud and jealous.
She had a few friends: the civil servant Ferdyshchenko, the moneylender Pritsyn,
and Ganya. The general and Totsky had worked out a plan to get rid of Nastasya:
she would be married to Ganya. Totsky was willing to give her quite a bit
of money. Nastasya had accepted the deal. Ganya had reacted with mixed emotion,
feeling that they were "buying" him to marry a fallen woman, albeit a very
beautiful one. His mother and sister disapproved. To further complicate
the matter, the general himself had fallen in love with Nastasya.
His wife Lisaveta was aware of his infidelities and was aware that he had just
spent a fortune to buy a birthday present for Nastasya.
That's why the general was being so nice to the prince: the general wanted to
distract his wife with the news of this destitute relative of hers.
Lisaveta and her three daughters meet the prince.
Lisaveta Yepanchin is conquered by the innocent who can be so perspicacious.
The prince describes a painting that struck him in Switzerland (Holbein's
"Christ"). He then tells them the story of a man sentenced to death but reprieved at the
last moment and the story of a poor village girl, Marie, who had been shunned
by everybody after being seduced by a traveller (the prince helped restore her
reputation so that, when she died, she was surrounded by all the children of
The prince is struck by how similar Aglaya is to the portrait he has seen of
Ganya begs the prince to deliver a love letter to Aglaya. Aglaya asks the prince
to read it aloud. Ganya is begging Aglaya to accept him, so that he can refuse
the hand of Nastasya. Aglaya is offended that Ganya would first make sure he
has one rich bride before he gives up the other, and realizes that Ganya is a
vile and greedy young man who puts money first. Her reply is to ask the prince
to return the letter with no reply.
Aglaya also warns the prince that Ganya is a dangerous man.
And in fact Ganya immediately displays envy at the prince who has already
managed to become such a close and trusted friend of the family after only
However, the general himself has advised the prince to stay at Ganya's place.
Ganya introduceds him to his unhappy mother, to his sister Varya (who is busy
being romanced by Ivan Ptitsyn) and to his brother Kolya.
The prince meets a fellow boarder, Ferdyshtchenko, who warns him not to lend him money, and then Ganya's father, a retired general and an old fool
who spins the most implausible stories pretending to know everybody.
Ganya's mother asks the prince to pay his rent directly to her, not to her
husband, who is obviously not trusted by the family. They have to rent rooms
to boarders because he failed in life.
There is tension between Ganya and his family about his marriage with the
fallen woman, Nastasya. His parents and his sister Varya think it's
Suddenly Nastasya appears in person, mistaking the prince for a servant.
She has come to invite the family to
her party. Ganya's father starts his routine, trying to impress her with
a story that she recognizes is simply a paraphrase of an article published
in a magazine. Just then Rogozhin and Lebedev break into the house with
some friends, all of them drunk.
Rogozhin has just hear the rumour that Ganya is engaged to Nastasya and is
furious. It is Ganya who ruined him, and now it is the same Ganya who
steals his love from him. But now Rogozhin has money and offers it to
Nastasya in front of everybody. He basically tries to buy her, increasing
the sum of money. Varya is disgusted by the scene, that proves what kind of
woman Nastasya is. She argues with her brother and she spits in his face.
When the prince tries to protect her, Ganya slaps him in the face.
Everybody consoles the prince and Ganya is ashamed of his action.
The prince makes Nastasya feel ashamed too. Before leaving, she does apologize
to Ganya's mother.
Both Varya and Kolya are conquered by the prince's meek manners.
Ganya himself apologizes to the prince. He dreams of becoming rich and
Ganya's father sends a note to the prince inviting him to a meeting.
The drunkard wants money and promises to take the prince to Nastasya's place.
The truth is that he has no idea where Nastasya lives.
When the prince runs into Kolya, Kolya tells him the correct address.
Kolya wants the prince to meet his friend Ippolit, a chronically sick young man
who is ashamed of his mother: Kolya's mother and Kolya's sister Varya give
Ippolit money because they know that his mother neglects him and his siblings.
Kolya would like that the prince, Ippolit and himself moved together into a flat.
Kolya accepts to show the prince where Nastasya lives.
The prince has decided to show up at her birthday party even though he was
not invited and even though he does not have clothes to dress adequately.
Nastasya is kind enough to welcome the uninvited guest. The guests are asked
to confess the worst crime they ever committed. Ferdyshtchenko confesses that
he stole money. General Yepanchin confesses that he stole from a woman.
Totsky caused the death of a friend with a cruel joke.
Nastasya abruptly asks the prince whether she should marry Ganya or not.
The prince begs her not to, and Nastasya so decided, shocking everybody by
trusting the advice of a complete stranger.
She vows to start a new life: for the first time in her life she will become
her own mistress.
Rogozhin enters the apartment followed by his rowdy friends and carrying the
huge some of money he had promised, more than the dowry that
Totsky had promised for her marriage to Ganya.
Nastasya tells Ganya openly how much she detests him: she is a shameless woman,
but he is even more shameless when he sacrifices his honor and his family's
honor for money.
Ferdyshtchenko then realizes that the prince is more hurt than anyone else
by what is going on. The prince in fact is willing to marry Nastasya, as she
is, and for zero money. Then he reveals what he has been waiting to announce:
that he has received a huge inheritance, a sum to dwarf Rogozhin's.
Nastasya initially seems to accept his offer, but she's just mocking the
audience: she has no intention of ruining the innocent soul of the prince the
way Totsky ruined hers. She is also convinced that eventually the prince would
come to regret having married such a courtisan. She admits publicly that she
has been Totsky's concubine.
She tells the prince that he should marry the good Aglaya instead.
Nastasya chooses her kind: Rogozhin. She belongs to the streets and she resigns
herself to that company. She doesn't want the money though, so she challenges
Ganya: she throws the money in the fire and tells Ganya he can have it if he
grabs it with his naked hands. Ganya walks out, although he faints before he
can leave the place. The money is rescued from the fire and, before exiting with
Rogozhin, she tells everybody that Ganya can still have it and do what he likes
with it. She has started a new independent life, maybe the life of a low-class
prostitute, but at least it will be her own life.
The prince stays in Moskow for six months to take care of the business
related to the inheritance.
Varya marries Ptitsyn. Ganya returns the gift of money to Nastasya.
The marriage between Totsky and Alexandra is called off.
Nastasya and Rogozhin get together, then part, then get together again,
then almost get married, but she leaves him again.
A newly arrived aristocrat, Prince Sh, falls in love with Adelaida and proposes.
Another young man, Yevgeny, falls in love with Aglaya.
Ganya's father is jailed for debt.
Kolya delivers a letter from the prince to Aglaya in which the prince tells
her how much he cares for her.
The prince finally returns to St Petersburg.
The first person he meets is Lebedev, and he meets his nephew, a student who
has to work at the railway, as well as his childish daughter.
Lebedev discusses the murder of six people by a mad student.
The prince visits Rogozhin and they discuss Nastasya. The prince tells how
Nastasya came to him begging him to save her from Rogozhin. She was very ill,
both mentally and physically. Rogozhin narrates how Nastasya humiliated him
by cheating on him publicly.
Rogozhin has understood that Nastasya loves the prince, not him, but precisely
because she loves him she does not want to ruin his life.
The prince notices a Holbein painting of Jesus. This painting inspires him to
tell four stories that have to do with religious faith: an atheist, a religious man who robs and kills a friend, a drunken soldier who sells a silver cross, and a nursing mother who compares her happiness with God's happiness when someone sees the light.
Rogozhin invites the prince to exchange their crosses, a gesture that makes
them brothers. Then Rogozhin promises to renounce Nastasya and "gives" her to
the prince. The prince promises that he has no interest in seeing her.
Outside the prince has the feeling that he is being followed.
The prince feels that he is about to have an epileptic fit.
In his delirium he mixes all the people he has met that day, and has visions
of Lebedev's nephew as the murderer of six people that Lebedev mentioned.
And then even suspects Rogozhin himself of the murder.
In a state of confusion the prince and looks for Nastasya but she is not home.
He still feels that someone is following him. When he gets back to his hotel,
those two homicidal eyes confront him: it is
Rogozhin who has been following him the whole time.
Rogozhin pulls out a knife and is about to kill the prince when the prince has an epileptic fit.
Kolya, who was waiting for him, takes care of the prince. Lebedev decides to
take him with his family to the countryside.
Lebedev tells the prince that Nastasya would like
a secret meeting with the prince. According to Lebedev, Nastasya is afraid
Aglaya and her sisters come to pay a visit to the prince.
Ptitsyn, Kolya, Ganya and Prince Sh also show up.
It turns out that Prince Sh had met the prince before.
They meet Lebedev's daughter Vera and her siblings, all of them orphans after
their mother died six weeks earlier while giving birth.
Aglaya recites a poem about a poor knight of high moral standards.
General Yepanchin and a young man, Yevgeny, join them just in time to hear
the poem. Aglaya intentionally changes the name of the protagonist to
Nastasya's name to make fun of the prince.
Yevgeny, who likes Aglaya, has just resigned from the army.
Then four insolent young men arrive:
Antip, who claims to the son of Pavlishchev,
Lebedev's nephew Vladimir, Ippolit,
and retired lieutenant Keller.
They claim that the prince is not the son of Pavlishchev, and that
Antip, who is an illegitimate son, should be entitled to half of the inheritance.
Keller has even published a satirical article in which he defames the prince.
The prince, however, has already sent Ganya on a truth-finding mission, and has
the proof that Antip's mother never had a son from Pavlishchev.
The four now appear like scoundrels, but the prince is a meek and generous
man: he still wants to give Antip the same amount of money that
Pavlishchev spent on his stay in Switzerland. The prince believes that Antip
acted in good faith (although he did not hesitate to insult his own mother in
the hope of obtaining some money).
The witnesses are shocked that the prince could be so naive after being
insulted and almost robbed of his inheritance by a bunch of crooks.
Lebedev's nephew Vladimir is still hostile to the prince, suspecting that the
prince pretends to be naive and generous when in fact he is a calculating and
Ippolit is no less insolent, despite being close to dying.
He also discloses to the crowd that Lebedev in person has contributed to the
article defaming the prince.
The wife of general Yepanchin and Aglaya are particularly upset by the whole
incident. As they are leaving with Yevgeny, they overhear a woman reassure
Yevgeny that Rogozhin has bought his debts.
Yevgeny is surprised and claims he knows nothing of this.
The prince has recognized the voice of Nastasya.
It is obvious that the woman, Nastasya, has tried to ruin
Yevgeny's reputation in front of Aglaya and her mother.
Aglaya's mother is furious with the prince for being so naive and gullible.
Ganya later tells the prince that
Yevgeny owns indeed a fortune but his business is not doing too well.
Keller, the author of the defaming article, goes to visit the prince and
beg for money. The prince not only forgives him but also gives him some money.
Antip redeems himself by writing a letter in which renounces any claim on
the prince's fortune and even refuses the money that the prince offered.
The prince realizes that Lebedev has been part in the scheme to ruin
Yevgeny's reputation, but then refuses to hear Lebedev's motives when he
starts out by uttering Aglaya's name.
Kolya brings news of a major quarrel within the Yepanchin family:
Aglaya fighting with her parents over Ganya and her mother expelling Varya
from the house, and the whole thing having to do with some plot architected
by Ganya and Varya.
After a few days Aglaya's mother visits the prince to make peace. She is still
furious at her daughter Aglaya and inquires about the prince's motives to
send her a letter.
The mother states clearly that she will never allow Aglaya to marry him.
The prince protests that it was simply meant as a brother's letter, not a lover's.
The mother also promises that she will never allow Aglaya to marry
The mother tells the prince that Ganya and Varya have been keeping in touch
with Nastasya, and that Varya has introduced Aglaya to Nastasya.
The mother cannot believe how dumb the prince is: everybody is deceiving him.
The prince tells the mother that her daughter Aglaya has sent him a note
asking him not to show up at their house. The mother takes it as a personal
affront and immediately drags the prince to their house.
Yevgeny gives a speech that liberalism is anti-Russian.
Aglaya makes a scene in front of her sisters and her mother, protesting that
she will never marry the prince, as if everybody wanted her to.
The prince, surprised, confesses that he never even thought of proposing,
which is half an insult, but is taken jokingly by the family.
The family and the prince take a walk to the park. While Aglaya is being
romanced by the handsome lieutenant
they meet Nastasya and her entourage.
The prince has not seen her in three months.
Nastasya flirts with Yevgeny as if he were an old and intimate acquaintance
and then reveals that his uncle committed suicide after stealing public money.
This further destroys Yevgeny's reputation.
a friend of Yevgeny, tries to hit her, but the prince stops his hand, and
Rogozhin drags her away.
Mother and sisters and their friends leave the park.
At home the general tells the prince that
Yevgeny had proposed to Aglaya but the girl had rejected him.
He also explains to the prince that Nastasya is plotting to disgrace Yevgeny
so that Aglaya will consent to marry him, the prince.
The prince is very surprised, as Aglaya has repeatedly displayed her annoyance
at the prince's meek attitude and has made fun of him in public.
Instead he receives a note by Aglaya who gives her an appointment in the
park. Keller brings him another news: the officer offended by
Nastasya is planning to challenge the prince to a duel because it was the
prince who stopped his hand.
The prince does not want to admit to himself that he is in love with Aglaya,
and that Aglaya is in love with him.
Rogozhin shows up. They haven't met in a long time.
Rogozhin hates the prince because Nastasya loves him. Precisely because she
loves the prince so much she is trying to arrange the marriage with Aglaya:
she has understood very well that the prince is in love.
Rogozhin reveals that Nastasya has been corresponding with Aglaya.
Rogozhin tells him that he has been sent by Nastasya: she
wants to meet with the prince in person.
The prince wants Rogozhin to be his brother and invites him to celebrate:
it's the eve of the prince's birthday.
Nastasya loves the prince but knows that she could ever make him happy.
Therefore she's willing to sacrifice her love, and conspire to make the prince
marry the woman who can make him happy.
At the prince's place in Lebedev's house they find that a crowd of friends
has already assembled to celebrate his birthday.
During a philosophical discussion presided by Ganya's father the talkative
Lebedev warns that the apocalypse is near because of the growing materialism
Yevgeny himself is there, asking to become a friend of the prince and bringing
the news that Kurmyshov has given up on his homicidal plans.
Even Ferdyshtchenko is there, reappearing after a long time.
Ippolit reads a letter that he has written to all as his intellectual testament.
The prince is interested in capital punishment, and Ippolit feels like a man
sentenced to death. Besides long meditations on life, Ippolit confesses that he
had visions, in particular of
Rogozhin visiting him after he (Ippolit) had visited him and admired the same
Holbein painting of Jesus that had struck the prince.
Somehow this course of events convinced him that the logical thing to do is
to commit suicide, which he intends to do at sunrise.
The prince's birthday party turns into Ippolit's personal show, as he continues
to read his "confession", a self-glorifying meditation on life and death.
His argument is that, having been told by the doctors that he only has a few
weeks to live, he has been de facto sentenced to death: then why wait for the
last breath of life? The wait sounds to him like a torture, an additional
cruelty. He also meditates that he could kill a dozen people, and society
could not punish him adequately, since he only has a few weeks to live.
He bequeaths a copy of his "confession" to the prince and one to Aglaya,
and requests that the manuscript be published.
His "confession" mostly bores and annoys the guests. Ganya is openly indifferent
to the suicide plan. Others laugh.
Rogozhin wants to leave.
Only a few people, starting with Keller,
take his threat seriously. Lebedew, whose house it is, is frightened at the
idea that Ippolit will shoot himself right there.
When the sun rises, Ippolit gets up, pulls out a pistol from his coat and pulls
the trigger... but the pistol is defective and there is no explosion.
Most of the witnesses laugh, thinking it another bluff.
The prince insists that Ippolit stays with him, but
Yevgeny warns the prince that Ippolit is dangerous and advices the prince to
get rid of him as soon as possible.
Later the prince falls asleep in the park and dreams of Nastasya. A gentle hand
wakes him up: it's Aglaya.
The whimsical and hot-tempered girl, who admits that he is the most honest
person she knows, tells him that Ippolit probably wanted
to kill himself in order for her to read his confession; that she has
decided to run away from home and hopes that he, the prince, will help her
settle abroad and study at a university and become a teacher (otherwise she
threatens to marry Ganya);
that she knows how he proposed to Nastasya, how she ran away with Rogozhin,
how he (the prince) lived with Nastasya for a while, how she ran away from
him again with another man, and how she finally returned to Rogozhin;
and that Nastasya writes letters to her almost every day begging her to
marry him (the prince).
The prince tells Aglaya that he does not love Nastasya: he pities her madness
that makes her feel unworthy. He would like to save her from her madness.
Aglaya (like Rogozhin) believes that Nastasya loves him, and (unlike Rogozhin)
thinks that the prince should live with her again.
She seems to test his feelings, first proposing to spend her life with him
and then suggesting he should spend his life with Nastasya.
Aglaya's mother surprises them and Aglaya, who can't stand her oppressive
family anymore, declares that she's going to marry Ganya.
Lebedev tells the prince that someone stole his wallet with a huge sum of
The only possible suspect is Ferdyshtchenko, who left the party early.
Lebedev suspects that Ferdyshtchenko needs money to romance the woman he likes,
the widow of a captain.
At last the prince meets Nastasya. She has come to bid farewell. She is
leaving with Rogozhin. She wanted to see him one last time. She asks him if
he is happy and he doesn't answer her. When Rogozhin asks him the same question,
the prince cries that he is not. Nastasya is now a humbled and generous woman
who is suffering for love, the ghost of the earlier arrogant femme fatale.
And this change has been caused by an idiot who is simply honest and
Varya, who was still hoping to arrange a marriage between Ganya and Aglaya,
learns that Aglaya has accepted a marriage proposal by the prince and that
the family is throwing a party to announce the engagement.
Ganya is disappointed and feels that their father, the drunkard, might be one
reason why he had no chance: Ganya and Varya know that their father is the
thief who stole Lebedev's money and think that everybody knows. The sick
Ippolit is now Varya's guest and he is quite insolent with them: he assumes
that they have been nice to him because they hope that he can have an influence
on Aglaya's decision.
Ganya still has a chance though: in a secret letter Aglaya has invited him and Varya to a secret
meeting, in the same place where she met the prince.
Ganya cannot stand his father's behavior anymore. After another quarrel, the
old drunkard decides to move out of their house and into Lebedev's.
Lebedev recounts how he found his wallet in his house. The thief had restored
the wallet after one day. Lebedev knows that the thief is the general (Ganya's
father) because they searched the room together and the general kept missing
the wallet. Eventually Lebedev found the wallet inside the pocket of a coat,
but still wouldn't tell the general that the wallet reappeared, so as to
tease and torture the general.
The general, very distressed by the humiliating episode, meets with the prince
and makes up a story that he met Napoleon in person. His speech becomes more
and more delirious and eventually he has a stroke in front of Kolya.
A flashback explains what has happened before Ganya received
The prince visits Aglaya's family. The family is apprehensive about what is
truly going on between the prince and Aglaya, given that there is so much
gossiping about their meeting and letters. Aglaya, annoyed, asks the prince
to publicly declare if he wants to marry her or not. The prince is forced to
propose in front of everybody and admit that he loves Aglaya and only Aglaya.
The moment he does so Aglaya starts laughing at him: it was all a cruel joke.
She leaves him more humiliated than ever. However, the whimsical behavior of
the girl convinces her parents that she is indeed in love with the prince,
and the parents resign themselves to accept destiny.
Ippolit has moved in with Aglaya's family. When he meets the prince, he is
bitter about the fact that everybody wanted him as a guest when they thought
he was about to die, but now that he is getting better nobody wants him
Lebedev, half drunk, informs the prince that he is the secret correspondent
who has kept Aglaya's mother informed of Nastasya's movements. He just now
received a letter addressed by Aglaya to Ganya. He offers to open it and read it
to the prince, but the prince is disgusted that Lebedev would be willing to
do something so mischievious. This is the letter that Ganya boasts about
with her sister. His father has the stroke just when Ganya was so happy.
Back to the present, the prince is escorted by Aglaya's family to a party
with highly influential people. Aglaya warns him not to ruin the evening,
and in particular not to break an expensive Chinese vase. The guests of the
party are very friendly and the prince slowly becomes relaxed and confident.
One of them is a relative of Pavlishchev, the prince's benefactor.
The prince, however, is shocked to learn that
Pavlishchev converted to Catholicism and became a Jesuit. The prince hates
Catholicism, which he considers un-Christian, merely a continuation of the
Roman Empire that persecuted real Christians. The prince suddenly explodes
in an ideological tirade about how Russian civilization is the true Christian
embodiment. He gets more and more excited about it, and the guests get more
and more embarrassed. Aglaya's father is about to interrupt him when the prince
accidentally breaks precisely the expensive Chinese vase that Aglaya warned
him about. The guests try to laugh the matter away, but this only increases
the emotional state of the prince, who now goes into a verbose apology.
Suddenly he has an epileptic fit. The party is over and the engagement too:
Aglaya's mother swears she would never let her daughter marry a sick man,
and Aglaya herself declares that she never accepted the prince's proposal.
Ganya's father dies and Ippolit is closer than ever to dying. Ippolit comes
to the prince to tell him what happened between Aglaya and Ganya. Aglaya
had taken him, Ippolit, to the meeting with Ganya and Varya, where Ganya
had been disappointed to hear that Aglaya simply wanted his friendship.
Ippolit has more important news though: he has helped Aglaya secure a
face-to-face meeting with Nastasya. Aglaya actually comes to fetch the prince
on her way to Nastasya: the capricious and impulsive girl wants him to be
present. Aglaya keeps a very hostile attitude against Nastasya from the very
beginning, accusing her of never having loved the prince, of having tortured
him. Nastasya understands that Aglaya is madly jealous, and wants to make sure
that the prince loves her, Aglaya, more than Nastasya. This is the test that
the prince has to pass. Aglaya wants the prince to choose her, Aglaya, over
Nastasya in front of Nastasya, i.e. humiliate Nastasya.
Nastasya is the one who is being tortured. The prince, who has always been
worried about her suffering and her madness,
sees how much Nastasya suffers, out of pride and out of love.
When Aglaya walks out of the house expecting the prince to follow her, the
prince hesitates a few seconds, then tries to follow Aglaya. That move breaks
the heart of both women: Aglaya does not forgive him the hesitation, and
Nastasya is mortally offended that he would follow Aglaya.
Being afraid that Nastasya would go completely mad or even die, the prince
chooses to marry Nastasya. Nastasya, in fact, sends Rogozhin away.
This generates an even bigger scandal in town. People gossip that the prince
might adhere to an ideology that rewards independent women, so that a fallen
woman is worth more than a woman who has not fallen. (Dostoevsky the author
states that he shares the public indignation). However, the prince is marrying
Nastasya only because he is sorry for her. He loves both women, but of a
different kind of love. He's "just getting married" to Nastasya, whereas he
truly loves Aglaya. The prince is torn between primal but impossibly strong
instincts: on one hand he cannot stand Nastasya's face (a face that to him
exudes desperation) and on the other hand he cannot stand the thought that
Aglaya will never know how much he loved her.
The prince is sacrificing his happiness to save Nastasya from suicide,
the way earlier Nastasya was willing to sacrifice her happiness to save him
from an unhappy marriage. Somehow, after meeting with Aglaya in person,
she has become selfish and has no scruples
inducing him into an unhappy marriage.
Keller, that the prince has chosen as best man for the wedding, warns him
that Lebedev is plotting against him, trying to prove that the prince is
not in possession of his faculties (which would result in all his assets to
be confiscated). Ippolit, instead, warns him that Rogozhin will take revenge
on the prince by killing the woman he really loves, Aglaya.
However, the wedding never happens: on the very wedding day, while the prince
is already waiting for her at the church, Nastasya sees Rogozhin in the crowd
and elopes with him, asking him to save her.
The prince chases the couple all the way to
Rogozhin's house but Rogozhin is pretending not to be there.
The prince searches the entire town, but nobody has seen Nastasya. Then
Rogozhin appears and drags the prince to his place, admitting that Nastasya is
there, even though everybody told the prince that neither of them was there.
Rogozhin confesses that he has killed Nastasya. He has used the same knife that
almost used to kill the prince.
He is delirious and the prince just sits lifeless next to him.
That's how the police find them: the prince has regressed to the state of
idiocy in which he was when he went to Switzerland.
Ironically, in order to save Nastasya from killing herself or going mad, the
prince has involuntarily caused her homicide by a jealous lover.
Rogozhin is sentenced to a labor camp in Siberia, while Yevgeny arranges
for the prince to be sent back to the clinic in Switzerland.
Aglaya has a love affair with a Polish (and Catholic) aristocrat in France and is married
in a hurry to him to avoid the scandal. The aristocrat, however, turned out
to be penniless.
Besy/ The Demons (1872) is the story of two young sociopaths,
Nikolai Stavrogin and Pyotr Verkhovensky, who are both introduced well into
the novel. Basically, first Dostoevsky introduces corollary characters and
their confused relationships, then he finally introduces the two protagonists,
and then capitalizes on the psychological scaffolding that he has created
to set in motion a terrifying collision.
The narrator, later revealed to be Alexei Govorov,
The story takes place in a small provincial town.
The narrator first introduces Stepan Verkhovensky, a two-time
widower and intellectual who became briefly famous for a poem published
abroad by revolutionary-leaning expatriates but without his authorization.
His best friend and part-time Platonic lover is Varvara Stavrogina, the wealthy widow of
an army official, Stravrogin. She took him under her protection, funding
his lifestyle and
even deciding his wardrobe, and resents it whenever he does not obey her.
Stepan has a son,
but neglects him, having seen him only twice (the first time when he was born).
Stepan gathers his friends in a salon of sorts. Varvara does not attend it
but indirectly funds their meetings. There's the gossiper Liputin, who has three daughters,
and who has liberal views in politics but very religious views in domestic
life. There's Shatov, a former servant of Varvara, whose sister Dasha is very
dear to Varvara. And there's Virginsky, a young poor man.
Varvara has one son, Nikolai Stavrogin. She was already separated from her
husband when the child was ready to go to school, and Stepan was hired as
the tutor. Stepan, therefore, became a sort of second father for the youth.
Later he became an official in the army and began to live in the big city,
where he rapidly plunged into a decadent lifestyle and associated himself
with scoundrels, prostitutes and destitutes. His mother supported him
generously but he showed no gratituted. When he returned for six months to
his mother's town, they realized that he was an epileptic, which explained
some evil behavior (he even bit the ear of the governor).
Later Nikolai went abroad and Varvara next heard of him from
an old friend, Praskovia Drozdov, who has a daughter, Liza, who
too was a pupil of Stepan when she was a child.
Varvara took her
protege Dasha and traveled to Switzerland to meet with the old friend.
Meanwhile, Stepan's situation got worse. A gambler who lost huge sums of
money, he began to drink and became cantankerous.
Praskovia returns to Russia and visits Varvara, telling her a confused story
in which Varvara's son Nikolai, her daughter Liza and Varvara's protege Dasha
seem to have been involved in a love triangle,
with Liza becoming very jealous and Nikolai moving back to Russia (but to
St Petersburg). Varvara decides to preempt any trouble by having her protege
Dasha marry her Stepan. It turns out that Dasha too had been a pupil of Stepan.
Dasha, now twenty, accepts Varvara's will, especially since she also promises
to back her financially. Stepan, on the other hand, is shocked to hear that
Varvara wants him to marry another woman. Varvara's design is obviously to
clear the path for Nikolai to marry Liza.
Stepan heard accusations that his son Pyotr Verkhovensky would be a
The gossiper Liputin brings a new guest to Stepan,
the construction engineer Aleksei Kirillov, who is friend with all the expats:
Pyotr, Nikolai and Liza.
Kirillov is going to live in the same house where Shatov and his wife live,
the house of a former captain,
Liputin relates how
Lebjadkin, another friend of Nikolai, a violent drunk who beats his crippled
sister, received a payment from Nikolai (a monthly payment to make up for
the seduction of the poor cripple) via a girl who must have been
intimate with Nikolai; except that the girl delivered only a fraction of the
money, and is therefore accused of being a thief (besides being a slut).
Stepan understands that Liputin is talking about Dasha, and that his marriage
to Dasha is meant to "cover" Nikolai's sin.
Liputin also relates that Varvara is beginning to suspect that her son
Nikolai is mad.
Stepan meets Liza, who is escorted by her silent and older friend Mavriky.
Liza is jovial and gorgeous, and fondly remembers her old tutor Stepan.
Liza needs an assistant and is thiking of hiring Shatov.
Kirillov is writing about why people don't commit suicide. After chatting with
him, the narrator draws the conclusion that the writer is mad.
Liputin reveals that Lebjadkin is now in love with Liza, and has become rich
because Nikolai just sold him a large estate.
Stepan, ever more disturbed, writes a letter to Nikolai to check his feelings
for Dasha, and eagerly waits for his son Pyotr as if Pyotr could save him from
Liza approaches Shatov with the pretext of compiling a book of magazine articles.
Shatov declines. Liza later asks the narrator for help to meet
Lebjadkin's crippled sister. She is eager to find out the truth about the poor
girl and Nikolai. The narrator finds Shatov alone, and Shatov tells him the
story of when he and Kirillov went to America. Penniless, they needed money,
and they received a sum from Nikolai. The narrator now remembers that he heard
gossip about Shatov's wife and Nikolai just about at the time when Shatov must
have been in America. Shatov takes the narrator to see Lebjadkin's crippled
sister, Marya. Marya talks like a madwoman, recounting how she got pregnant
and had to drown the baby in a pond. She refuses to name the man who got her
pregnant, but refers to him as a "husband".
When Lebjadkin arrives, he is drunk as usual and shouts his love for Liza.
Even drunk, he refuses to reveal the name of the man who caused Marya's
troubles and who now pays him to silence the past.
The narrator (Alexei Govorov), Shatov and Stepan meet at Varvara's house.
Meanwhile, Varvara has attended mass. Liza has gone to mass with the wife of
the new governor, Julija. Upon leaving church, Varvara is approached by
a deranged crippled beggar, who turns out to be Marya.
Varvara takes her with her,
and Liza asks permission from Julija to go with Varvara.
Liza calls her "auntie".
Therefore Stepan is surprised to see the three ladies arrive together.
Shatov tells Varvara that Marya lives in the same house as he with her brother
Liza's mom Praskovia also arrives. She is not in friendly terms with her
childhood friend Varvara because she thinks that Varvara has involved her
Liza into a scandal. Dasha arrives and clarifies that she delivered the correct
amount to Lebjadkin, as instructed by Nikolai.
Then Lebjadkin arrives, relatively sober but still madly in love with Liza.
Varvara, who has been tipped by an anonymous letter, demands
an explanation of the insinuations that Marya is married to her son Nikolai.
Lebjadkin refuses to answer and just then the two young men arrive:
Pyotr, who declines the affectionate hug of his father Stepan (a father who
has not seen him in ten years), and his friend Nikolai, who denies any marriage
with Marya and tenderly accompanies her home.
While Nikolai is away, Pyotr tells his version of the facts.
Nikolai met Marya by accident several years earlier. She fell madly in love
with him. He was moved by the poor
girl who was being abused by her brother, and decided to give her a yearly
pension. Kirillov at the time thought that maybe Nikolai was making fun of the
girl. Varvara interprets her son's actions as mandated by a compassionate soul,
and pledges to adopt the insane Marya.
Lebjadkin managed to take her money, which he used to pay for his
Lebjadkin, humiliated and finally sober, admits that it is all true and
asks permission to leave. As he is leaving, Nikolai walks back in.
Pyotr then proceeds to embarrass his father in front of Varvara. Pyotr reveals
that his father Stepan sent him a letter asking for help against the marriage,
and implying that the marriage is meant to cover a sin committed by Nikolai.
Stepan is left speechless. Varvara coldly tells Dasha that she is free to
decide either way about the marriage.
Shatov slaps Nikolai in the face, and Nikolai does not react. Liza faints
and is carried out. The following day the whole town is gossiping that
obviously Shatov must have felt her sister Dasha had been seduced by Nikolai,
and that Liza must have felt humiliated. The surprise of the party was Pyotr,
who came out as a strong character. Word on the street was that he had been
a revolutionary but then repented, turned in some comrades to the police and
was therefore forgiven by the state and given letters of recommendation that
he was now using to introduce himself to the high society, starting with
the governor and his wife Julija.
Liza announces her engagement to Mavriky.
Pyotr visits Nikolai and confesses that he has chosen to behave like an idiot.
Nikolai tells him that he promised Varvara to ask for Liza's hand.
Pyotr pledges to serve Nikolai, but Nikolai simply yawns.
Pyotr also mentions an escaped convict, Fjedka, who happens to be a friend
of his, and would be available if Nikolai needed him.
Nikolai then visits Kirillov and tells him that he wants to challenge to a
duel a Gaganov who has been insulting him publicly because he still hasn't
forgiven how Nikolai offended his father four years earlier. They discuss suicide:
Kirillov says that he is happy and that he wants to commit suicide precisely
because he has reached a state of happiness.
Finally Nikolai visits Shatov, who has been living in fear of being assassinated
after slapping Nikolai in front of everybody. Nikolai has no such intention.
Nikolai knows that Shatov did not hit him because of the affair with his wife,
and did not hit him because of the rumor that Nikolai seduced Dasha (Nikolai
denies any truth to this). Shatov hit him because he was disgusted by
Nikolai's cynical behavior towards the poor Marya. Shatov has become a close
friend of Marya, and in fact Nikolai has come to ask him to watch over her if
anything should happen to him (Nikolai). Nikolai also pledges to tell everybody
that Marya is indeed his legitimate wife. Nikolai denies any rumor of children
revealing that Marya is still virgin. Nikolai has also come to warn Shatov
that the secret society of which he is a member has charged Pyotr with
a murder: murdering Shatov himself. Shatov used to be one of them, but then
repented and left the society. Now they want to silence him forever.
Shatov then goes into a lengthy explanation of why he abandoned the secret
society. He is a very religious and very patriotic man, who equates
Christianity and Russia. Shatov is attached to Nikolai because Nikolai was
his first spiritual godfather.
Nikolai is always cold and indifferent. He never
smiles. Shatov says that he loves Nikolai, but Nikolai replies that he cannot
Only Kirillov seems to interest him.
Outside Nikolai is approached by Fjedka the convict, who begs him for money.
Nikolai sends him away with harsh words.
Nikolai then visits Lebjadkin. He tells him that he has decided to recognize
his lawful wife, despite the fact that he married her while drunk and only for
a stupid bet.
Lebjadkin is frightened at the prospect that Marya will now be accepted
at the mansion of Varvara while he will lose his power to blackmail Nikolai.
He also warns Lebjadkin that Liputin has told Pyotr
of something he said while drunk: that he (Lebjadkin) intends to write a
letter to the authorities about the secret society.
Finally, Nikolai enters Marya's room. She is asleep. When she wakes up, she
is afraid of him: she thinks that he is an impostor sent by Varvara to kill
her. Nikolai walks out angry. Fjedka has been following him and approaches
him again. Nikolai is entertained by Fjedka's cynical thoughts (he even robbed
a church). Fjedka tells Nikolai that he could have robbed
Lebjadkin countless times, since the drunk leaves the door open and all the
money very visible, but Fjedka kept waiting for the day that Nikolai would
give him more money to... kill Lebjadkin!
Fjedka tells Nikolai the amount of money he wants to murder both Marya and
her brother, thus removing an obstacle to Nikolai's future.
For the first time, Nikolai laughs. He is so
amused that he gives Fjedka all the money that he has in his wallet.
Consciously or unconsciously, Nikolai has just let Fjedka believe that the
deal is struck.
Gaganov chooses Mavriky as his second. The day of the duel both Kirillov (Nikolai's second)
and Mavriky tried to dissuade Gaganov, but he wants the duel, thinking that
Nikolai is a coward for not reacting to Shatov's slap in the face. Nikolai
offers to apologize publicly for the offense of four years earlier, but
Gaganov interprets it as another insult and gets even angrier. The duel
begins: Gaganov misses, and Nikolai shoots high. Gaganov, again, interprets
it as an insult. But Gaganov misses the next two shots, and Nikolai always
aims high. Gaganov is humiliated.
Nikolai is secretely visited by Dasha. We now learn that there is indeed
a relationship between them, despite Nikolai's denials. Nikolai mentions that
he has been approached by Fjedka to murder his wife Marya.
Now the novel shifts its attention to Pyotr. Pyotr has been offending
his father Stepan, calling him a "parasite" for obtaining money and
protection from Varvara. Pyotr made sure to destroy their friendship by
showing Varvara a personal letter that Stepan sent him. Stepan realizes
that Pyotr is a monster and bans him from his house.
Andrei Lembke had been a humble career man of humble origins, whose only hobby
was to build realistic replicas in paper (a theater, a train), before meeting
the ambitious and wealthy Julija. He married her when he was already over 40
and she managed to have him promoted to provincial governor.
Pyotr Had become a favorite of Julija, but Andrei had learned to dislike him.
Pyotr had a sneaky, sleazy way to gain Andrei's confidence for unknown
purposes. The vain Andrei had shown him a novel whose contents were a bit
political, and Pyotr had borrowed the manuscript and never returned it.
Then Andrei had shown him his collection of foreign political manifestos, and
again Pyotr had borrowed them and never returned them. Pyotr accused him of
wishing the destruction of church and government without having the guts to
actually do it.
Julija takes under her protection a humble servant, Ljamsin, who specializes
in satire and pranks. (The narrator is clearly annoyed by this clown).
Fjedka commits a sacrilege by robbing a church.
Liza and others visit the holy Semjon, who actually sounds a bit demented
and enjoys humiliating Mavriky, thus upsetting Liza. Liza also accidentally
meets Nikolai and almost slaps him in the face.
Varvara asks Stepan to get out of town. She offers him a large sum of money,
but he, offended, refuses the money. She accuses him of having been selfish
and false. In particular, she resents that he never told her about the "new
ideas" that were spreading both abroad and in Russia.
Lembke is now officially jealous of Pyotr, given how much Julija likes him.
Pyotr, however, returns the manuscript of Lembke's novel.
Pyotr also tells the naive governor that Shatov is responsible for the
revolutionary leaflets that have appeared in the region, and that Kirillow
is his accomplice.
Lembke is worried because he has received an anonymous letter warning him
that a revolt is imminent. Pyotr, now that he has his trust, takes the letter
and promises to find the author.
When Pyotr leaves, Lembke is approached by his trusted German advisor, Blum,
who insists that the police should carry out a raid in the house where the
revolutionaries meet, Stepan's house. Blum thinks that Stepan is the leader of
the revolt. Lembke is skeptic about the plan.
Meanwhile, Pyotr visits the famous writer Karmazinov, a selfish dumb man whom
Karmazinov knows that Pyotr knows about the revolt and is only
interested in knowing if he has time to sell his property before the revolt
Then Pyotr visits Kirillov. Pyotr wants to make sure that they still have
a deal: Kirillow, still determined to take his life, has promised that he will
leave a signed note taking responsibility for whatever criminal act Pyotr
Pyotr then visits Shatov, and we learn that Pyotr himself, and not
Shatov, is behind the leaflets, and that Shatov refused to help him but now
Pyotr has found a way to implicate him.
Pyotr then walks to Nikolai's place.
Nikolai is talking with
Mavriky, who has discovered Liza's love for Nikolai and has come to ask Nikolai
to marry her.
Mavriky is a good man who simply wants Liza to be happy.
Nikolai scorns him and confesses his marriage.
Mavriky leaves disgusted.
Pyotr prepares Nikolai for a meeting of the revolutionaries that is going to
take place at Virginsky's place. Pyotr wants to introduce Nikolai as a foreign
agent who has come to help organize the revolt.
Pyotr has created a central committee for the secret society: Liputin,
Ljamsin and Virginsky are part of it, as is the writer Shigalyov, whose
book proposes a utopian society.
At the meeting Pyotr demands who is faithful to the cause. They all swear
except Shatov, who leaves the house, thus admitting publicly that he is ready
to turn them in to the authorities. Nikolai also does not swear. He leaves
after an enigmatic answer, causing embarrassment to Pyotr in front of his
Pyotr follows Nikolai outside and addresses him like a madman.
Nikolai accuses him of trying to have Lebjadkin murdered by
Fjedka with his (Nikolai's) money. His suspicion is confirmed when Fjedka
appears behind them. The delirious Pyotr begs Nikolai to stay on his side,
arguing that he needs Nikolai: Pyotr's plan is to replace the czar with
Nikolai himself! Nikolai is disgusted by the whole scene.
Nikolai visits a monastery and meets a legendary monk, Tikhon. Nikolai has
written down a confession of a terrible crime that he committed in the past,
and wants Tikhon to read it before Nikolai will distribute them to friends,
family and authorities. The document relates how Nikolai lived a wild life
in the capital. He had two lovers, a woman (Shatov's wife?) and her own maid. He received them
in two different apartments. One was rented from a woman who constantly beat
her daughter. Nikolai felt pity for the girl, Matrjosa but also felt
morbidly attracted to her. One day he found himself alone with her and raped
her. The girl felt ill, and eventually killed herself. Then he decided to
marry the ugly cripple Marya because he felt that it was the most disgusting
thing he could do. Later in Switzerland he was tempted to marry another girl
but was saved by the advice of another girl who knew his terrible secret
Having read the confession, Tikhon at first recommends that Nikolai spends a
few years in a monastery, but then realizes that Nikolai's evil side has
a plan to stop Nikolai's good side from delivering the confession: Nikolai
is about to commit an even bigger crime that will give him an excuse not to
confess the rape. Nikolai leaves upset, admitting to himself that Tikhon
understood the truth.
Blum carries out the inspection of Stepan's apartment and confiscates books
and letters that seem to show his sympathies for the revolutionaries.
In town the workers of a factory are protesting lay-offs and Lembke is
worried that it might escalate into riots. The governor suspects that Pyotr
is a conspirator but his wife Julija is still defending him, and this only
increases his hatred for the young man,
Stepan is taken to Lembke's mansion where he is accused by Lembke of being
the inspirator of the revolt, but Lembke soon realizes that the old professor
is unlikely to be in the same league as his son Pyotr. To further embarrass
him, Julija and all her friends arrive. They ignore the governor and start
socializing with Stepan.
Karmazinov, Liza, Mavrinsky, and Varvara herself ar all on Stepan's side.
Lembke eventually loses his temper and leaves after threatening to
"take action" against Stepan.
Nikolaj arrives and is confronted by Liza, who tells him how
Lebjadkin is writing letters to her about a secret in Nikolaj's life.
Then Nikolaj coldly admits in front of everybody (including his mother) that
he is married to Marya. The only one who is not shocked by the news is Stepan,
who is too happy to be released and has even been invited by Julija to read
something at her next party.
Julija's magnificent benefit party consists of a series of presentations on
stage and then a ball. The first part is spoiled by the ignorant mob that
buys a ticket to attend it. They are amused by a drunk
Lebyadkin who walk on stage uninvited, then bored to death by Karamazinov's poem, and disgusted by Stepan's delirious speech in which he accuses the
young generation of being idiots while admitting that his time is over. Finally,
a young fanatic steps on stage and rants about the sad state of Russia.
At the end of the speeches, there is complete chaos.
After embarrassing himself publicly, Stepan writes a pompous and pathetic
farewell letter to Dasha. Julija hears from Pyotr that Liza has left
Mavrinsky and eloped with Nikolai, but the narrator (Alexei) guesses
correctly that Pyotr was not at the morning's speeches because he was plotting
that very scandal. Julija is under Pyotr's spell and, before leaving them,
Alexei warns her that Pyotr is a dangerous man.
In the evening a buffet and the ball take place to complete Julija's grand
party. Suddenly, people start screaming that there is a fire on the other side
of the town. Lembke immediately accuses his own wife of having architected
the party in order to distract attention from the fire. It is quickly learned
that the fire was set by Fjedka and three disgruntled workers. Next to the
neighborhood that burned down there is also another house that was set to fire,
but this looks like an independent fire. Inside they find the dead bodies of
Lebyadkin and Marya, whose throats have been cut. The crowd gossips that the
house was rented by Nikolai for them before he seduced Liza and eloped with her.
Liza has spent the night with Nikolai but now regrets it and decides to leave
him. She has realized that he doesn't love her, and she relates the fact to
what Pyotr told her about Nikolai being devoted to a higher cause.
It was Pyotr who took Liza to Nikolai in the first place, to please him
(and perhaps to later blackmail him).
Pyotr arrives to visit the two and brings the news of
Lebyadkin's and Marya's murders, explaining that he gave
Lebyadkin a lot of money, Lebyadkin got drunk and boasted about the money,
and Fjedka heard of it. Of course, this was all very predictable, especially
since Fjedka had also received money from Nikolai that Fjedka interpreted as
payment to murder precisely those two.
The bodies did not burn, which means that the whole city now knows that they
were murdered and did not die of the fire.
Nikolai suspects that Pyotr set the fire, but Pyotr blames the fire on workers
who could not wait any longer to take their revenge.
Pyotr tells Nikolai that the whole city suspects him of killing his wife
in order to marry the rich Liza. Pyotr also reveals that
Mavrinsky, devastated but still devoted, spent the night at the gate.
Nikolai tells Pyotr that Liza is leaving him, having realized that he doesn't
love her. Liza overhears them and Nikolai, confronted, takes responsibility
for the murders: he knew that they were going to be killed and didn't do
anything to prevent the killing. She is terrified to learn that people have been
killed so that she can marry Nikolai, and that she is Nikolai's alibi (he
spent the night with her). She feels guilty.
Liza, delirious, walks outside escorted by Pyotr, but then runs away when she
sees the faithful Mavrinsky. She falls and Mavrinsky helps her, while Pyotr
carefully disappears. Just then they meet a heartbroken Stepan, who has decided
to leave town. Liza is determined to see the dead bodies. There is a crowd in
front of the house. When they see her, they attack her and she is killed
by the mob.
Pyotr is shocked to hear that Nikolai has left town for St Petersburg.
He then chairs a meeting of the conspirators: Liputin,
Ljamsin, Virginsky, etc. He tells them that he is sure Nikolai had nothing
to do with the murders, that it was just Fjedka's idea to steal the money.
But the death of Lebyadkin is a relief to him because he had sent the letter
denouncing them to Lembke. On the other hand he accuses them of having
pressured the workers to set fire to the town. They deny it. Pyotr then
convinces them to kill Shatov, painting him as a dangerous traitor. He explains
that Kirillov is ready to take responsibility in his suicide letter. Pyotr then
orders Liputin to dig up the printing press that Shatov has buried in order
to print new propaganda flyers. Pyotr and Liputin visit Kirillov to make sure
that he is still willing to commit suicide. At his house they find Fjedka.
The murderer is mad at Pyotr because he has not made the money that Pyotr
promised him and has realized that Nikolai had not ordered the murders.
Pyotr obviously ordered the murders. When Fjedka becomes too threatening,
Pyotr pulls out a gun but Fjedka runs away. The following day Liputin learns
that Fjedka has been found murdered and that the police suspects one of the
workers who is accused of setting the fire.
Liputin is terrorized by the events and is ready to elope.
Shatov receives an unexpected visit: his wife Marie, They were married just
two weeks in Switzerland before she eloped with Nikolai. She is pregnant and
gives birth in her husband's house to Nikolai's child. Shatov still loves her
and goes out of his way to help her, even promising to adopt the child.
She is initially arrogant and impatient towards the dumb husband who does
not understand her condition (until she tells him) and does not seem to have
pride (he begs her to stay instead of kicking her out). While Shatov is busy
helping his wife, a conspirator comes to tell him that he is expected to
deliver the printing press to them in the morning. In the morning he obeys
but it is a trap: all the conspirators are waiting for him, they seize him
and Pyotr shoots him dead. Then they dump the body in a pond.
Virginsky, whose wife has helped Shatov's wife, tries in vain to plead that
now Shatov, a father, would not go to the police. Pyotr cannot be stopped.
Ljamsin panics and has to be gagged. Liputin asks Pyotr if it is really true
that there are cells of conspirators all over Russia, and understands that
it was a lie: they are not part of a huge movement, just pawns in Pyotr's
Pyotr visits Kirillov to close the deal that will provide an alibi for
the conspirators. Kirillov is angry that the victim was Shatov. He realizes
that Pyotr simply took revenge on a harmless man who had once insulted him
publicly (in Switzerland). Kirillov calls him a liar and a coward. At the same
time Kirillov is still tempted to kill himself just because his philosophy
drives him to it. Evnetually, Kirillov signs the confession that he killed
Shatov and locks himself in a room to commit suicide. Pyotr waits outside.
Not hearing any noise, Pyotr enters the room and tries to kill Kirillov,
but Kirillov bites his finger and Pyotr has to run away.
Then Pyotr hears a shot. He returns to the apartment
and finds Kirillov dead.
Pyotr then leaves town and flees to a foreign country.
Meanwhile, the mad Stepan has left town on foot. He walks the whole night
until he meets peasants who give him a ride and give him shelter in their
humble farm. He gets ill and becomes delirious. One of the peasants recognizes
him and tells Varvara. Varvara rushes to the farm and personally takes care
of him until he dies in her arms. She says that now she has nobody in the world,
thus implying that Nikolai is no longer her son.
On learning of the murder, Shatov's wife goes mad in the street: she dies and
the baby dies too shortly afterwards.
Kirillov's suicide note is not believed.
Pyotr's plan fails because Ljamsin tells the police what really happened.
The authorities issue a warrant for the arrest of Pyotr and arrest all the
Meanwhile, Nikolai returns to the town and writes to Dasha a desperate letter,
asking her to be her nurse again as she was in Switzerland, and to relocate there
with him. Dasha is ready
to run to him. She shows the letter to Varvara and she decides to go with her:
her life is now pointless and she'd rather emigrate with the couple.
However, they find him dead: he hanged himself.
Bratya Karamazovy/ Karamazov Brothers (1880) is a philosophical novel
narrated by an "omniscient" invisible character. It is overlong and several
episodes seem to have been improvised just to make it more convoluted.
The final speeches at the trial are redundant just like many other lengthy
The vulgar landowner Fyodor Karamazov has three sons:
Dmitri/Mitja by his first wife, Ivan and Alexey/Aliosha by his second.
Fyodor's first wife Adelaida was from a rich and noble family, the Miusovs.
Fyodor had seduced her and eloped with her without her parents' approval.
Adelaida had grown to regret her mistake and eventually run away with another
man and died in misery. Fyodor instead indulged in orgies until he met the
beautiful and young Sofja, an orphan raised by general Vorokov's widow.
Fyodor continued his depraved lifestyle until he caused
Sofja to die of heartbreak. The general's widow took the two children away
from the irresponsible father. When she died, they were assigned to a new
guardian, Efim Polyenov.
Dmitri/Mitja was raised by the servant Grigorij. Then he traveled away and
managed to waste all his money and accrue debts. He returned to town to
obtain more money from his father.
Ivan went to university and became a famous reviewer of books. Begged by
Dmitri/Mitja, Ivan suddenly
moved back to his father's house and they became best friends.
Finally Aleksey/Aliosha, who had not seen his father since he was a child
and hardly knew his own brothers,
came to town to find his mother's tomb and then decided to
enter a local monastery.
For the first time the whole family was united.
Also in town was
Adelaida's cousin Pyotr Miusov, a friend of anarchists and socialists,
returned from France to Russia.
Aleksey's monastery is also the home of a famous monk, Zosima.
Fyodor Karamazov, his three children and Pyotr Miusov decide to meet in
the cell of the monk. A distant relative of Miusov also attends, the young
Fyodor Karamazov manages to offend the monk with hilarious lies. Pyotr
Miusov apologizes, but the monk forgives everything and seems to conquer
Liza and her mother are also guests of the monastery. The mother thanks the
monk for healing her daughter. Liza is a silly teenage girl who has known
Aleksey/Aliosha since they were children. She is amused that now he blushes
every time their eyes meet. Her mother confesses to the monk that she does
The monks inquire about Ivan's article, an ideological manifesto in which
Ivan claims that the state has to become a church, and that only Russia can
Finally, Dmitri, who has organized the meeting, shows up.
Miusov, meanwhile, tells the monks about Ivan's real ideology: that crime should
be allowed, even murder, deemed not only natural but indispensable.
The meeting ends with a scandal caused by Fyodor when he inveys publicly
against his son Dmitri, disclosing that he owes him a large sum of moeny.
Fyodor also tells the monks that Dmitri has seduced a good girl and is engaged
to her (Katerina) while secretly sleeps with a prostitute (Grushenka).
Dmitri, furious, replies that the prostitute has told him the truth: Fyodor
himself gave her his IOUs in order to blackmail him against demanding the
inheritance he is entitled to. It was Fyodor in person who suggested to the
prostitute that she seduced Dmitri to cause his ruin.
The old monk Zosima gets on his knees in front of Dmitri and asks him to forgive.
Then Aliosha's only friend, Rakitin, also a novice at the monastery, chats
about the prostitute, Grushenka, and Aliosha's virginity; and the fact that
Ivan is trying to steal Dmitri's rich and beautiful fiance Katerina, and that Dmitri is perfectly
happy to give her to him because he wants the slut Grushenka.
Fyodor pretends to leave the party but then returns to insult the monks calling
them leeches who suck the people's blood. He also demands that Aliosha leaves
the monastery and returns home.
Grigory and Marfa are the two servants who have raised Fyodor's children. One
day they had to take care of yet another child: the idiot of the village,
Lizaveta, who had gotten mysteriously pregnant, delivered a boy in their
bathroom. The gossip in the village was that a drunk Fyodor got her pregnant
after swearing to his drunk friends that even such an ugly being could be
sexually attractive. Fyodor's first wife had just died and Fyodor was at the
peak of his decadent lifestyle. Lizaveta died giving birth. The boy,
Smerdiakov, grew up to become Fyodor's most trusted servant.
Smerdiakov is ungrateful and selfish, indifferent to the two old servants who
raised him, indifferent to just about everything including girls.
Meanwhile, Katerina sent Aliosha a message asking for a meeting. Dmitri stops
Aliosha while the young brother is going there and confesses the whole story:
he has indeed fallen in love with Grushena and is not worthy of Katerina,
and therefore wants Aliosha to tell her that she is free. Dmitri had conquered
Katerina by lending her the money that her father needed to avoid bankruptcy.
A grateful Katerina felt that she had to accept his marriage proposal.
However, Katerina had later become rich thanks to the inheritance from a
relative. Now it's Dmitri who needs money: he has spent some money that Katerina
gave him to mail to a relative. Dmitri also wants Aliosha to get the money
from their father. Dmitri knows that their father has an envelop full of
money ready for Grushenka is she returns to him. Dmitri wants that money so
that he can pay Katerina.
At his father's house, Aliosha hears Smerdiakov proclaim his selfish and
Smerdiakov does not believe in religious or patriotic values. His evil words
break the heart of his adoptive father Grigory.
Aliosha's father is drunk. He discusses the existence of God with Ivan,
who does not believe. Dmitri arrives, furious, convinced that
Grushenka is hiding in his father's rooms. Dmitri attacks his own father,
who whines like a child. They both shamelessly love the same fallen woman.
That woman is in Katerina's house. That's where Aliosha goes to deliver
Dmitri's message to Katerina. The noble and generous Katerina thinks
she found a friend in Grushenka, who seems willing to talk sense into Dmitri
and surrender him to Katerina, but Grushenka reveals her true feelings in
front of Aliosha: she was just playing cat and mouse with Katerina, with no
intention of letting Dmitri go. Katerina expels her from the house, but
Grushenka laughs in Katerina's face. Outside Aliosha meets Dmitri and tells
him what just happened at Katerina's house. Then Aliosha returns to the
monastery, where he learns that the old monk Zosima is dying. In his cell
Aliosha reads a message that Liza sent him: it's a love letter in which she
confesses that she has loved him since they were children.
Aliosha visits his father. His father tells him that Ivan has returned only
to get money from him, but he won't get any: his father is determined to save
money for the day that he will be ugly and women will not come to him unless
he buys them. His father does not believe in life after death, but only in
the pleasures of this life.
In his opinion Ivan is terrified at the idea that the old man might give his
money to Grushenka and for this reason Ivan encouraged Dmitri to fall in love
with the slut. This way he would make sure that Grushenka does not get the
money of the old man and at the same time will be able to marry the rich
Katerina. In his opinion Ivan is a selfish monster who loves nobody. Leaving
his father's house, Aliosha meets a group of children who are throwing stones
at a lonely child. Aliosha initially tries to defend the child, but soon learns
that it is the lone child who is the evil one: the child begins to throw stones
at Aliosha, and even bites his finger, for no apparent reason. When Aliosha
refuses to counterattack, the child starts crying and runs away.
Aliosha tells Liza that he is ready to marry her but she is ashamed of her
bold gesture and pretends she was only kidding him.
Aliosha is now convinced that Katerina is in love with Ivan but feels obliged
to be in love with Dmitri. Katerina tells him that she is ready to spend her
whole life being faithful to an unfaithful Dmitri. Ivan is there and confirms
that he true believes Katerina is telling the truth. Ivan has decided to leave
since there is no hope for him. Aliosha tries in vain to convince everybody
that Katerina is just acting. Katerina is more interested in placating a captain
who was injured and insulted by Dmitri so that he does not sue Dmitri, and
begs Aliosha to pay this man some money on her behalf.
Aliosha visits the captain and finds out that he is the father of the child
who attacked him, Iliusha. Now the child's motive is clear: he was trying to
avenge his father by hurting the brother of the offender.
The captain, Snegiryov, lives in extreme poverty with his ill wife and their
crippled daughter Nina, while his healthy and intelligent daughter Varvara had
to sacrifice her studies in St Petersburg to help the family.
It turns out that the whole trouble that led to the confrontation with Dmitri
was caused by some shady business that the captain was carrying out on account
of Fyodor, Aliosha's father. Aliosha is all too happy to deliver Katerina's
money to the good man and his family, so that the two ill women can be cured,
the intelligent one can return to school and the captain can move the family
to another town. The captain initially accepts the money like the solution to
all his problems, but then pride prevails and he throws it away.
Aliosha visits Liza and tells her that, after all, the visit to the captain
went well: now that the captain refused the money it will be easier for him to
actually accept it. Instead of a beggar, he is now a peer to them. Liza
confesses that she meant what she wrote in the love letter and they kiss.
Liza's mother eavesdrop and then confronts Aliosha swearing that she will not
allow such a marriage. Liza is still just a silly child while Aliosha is
a mixture of a very naive man and a mature man. Aliosha tells Liza that he is
afraid of losing his only friend, the dying monk, and that he is no longer sure
of believing in God.
Liza's mother is also taking care of Katerina, who is still delirious.
Aliosha, looking for Ivan, overhears Smerdiakov serenading a girl, Marja.
Smerdiakov is bitter about life: he wishes he had never been born, hates
Russia and wishes that Napoleon had won the war. Aliosha finds Ivan, who has
decided to leave as soon as possible for Western Europe and is more nihilistic
Ivan tells Aliosha about his poem, which is really just a parable.
It is set in Spain at the time of the Inquisition.
Jesus has returned to Earth and performed more miracles.
The Inquisition, however, considers him a heretic and sentences him to burn at
the stakes. The very old Grand Inquisitor confronts him and explains to him why he has
become a danger to the Church: when Jesus resisted the three temptations of
Satan, he opted for freedom, but the Church thinks that was a mistake because
humans cannot be trusted with freedom. In fact, Jesus condemned humankind to
Jesus does not object: he simply kisses the old man. The Grand Inquisitor
releases Jesus but bans him from society.
Ivan is on the side of the Inquisitor. Alyosha kisses Ivan.
Ivan meets Smerdiakov and feels disgust for the boy, who has become Fyodor's
favorite servant. Smerdiakov is assigned to mount guard against Dmitri and
to let Grushenka in, should she decide to visit the father. His father is
terrified that Dmitri might be watching the place and kidnapping Grushenka
before she reaches the house. Smerdiakov, however, is playing a dirty game,
as he has told Dmitri what the secret signals are to announce the arrival of
Grushenka. Later Smerdiakov is seized by an epileptic fit.
Ivan decides to leave for Moskow as he told Katerina and
Alyosha, and refuses to go further as his father would like him to (in order
to keep him at a safe distance).
But then does just that when Smerdiakov suggests it.
Smerdiakov implies that a tragedy will befall on Fyodor and Ivan is better
off behind away when this happens.
Zosima dies peacefully in his cell and Alyosha compiles his lengthy biography.
Zosima, a rebel in his youth, became a monk after being challeged to a duel.
Since we are all sinners, Zosima begged everybody to forgive the sins of others.
Unfortunately, Zosima's corpse starts smelling immediately. His enemies in
the monastery, led by the reclusive monk Ferapont, interpret it as a sign from
God that Zosima was not the saint that the community believed he was. Alyosha
too is shocked that God would offend his dead master. Rakitin realizes that he
has a chance to corrupt the pure Alyosha and invites him to pay a visit to
Grushenka lives with her old lover and protector Kuzma Samsonov.
She was dishonored and abandoned by a young officer who then married someone
else, but now the officer is a widower and is coming back for her. It's him
she is eagerly waiting for. She tells Rakitin and Alyosha. Moved by Alyosha's
goodness, she confesses that she paid Rakitin to take Alyosha to her place so
she could take his virginity and corrupt him. Grushenka bids farewell from
Alyosha and leaves town.
Now that the monk Zosima is dead, Alyosha leaves the convent.
Dmitri is losing his mind. He is desperate to find Grushenka before she goes
to see his father. At the same time he is desperate to find the money to
repay the debt to Katerina. He is penniless and tries in vain to get money
from Samsonov, who is puzzled to say the least that he would beg money from
the protetor of the woman he wants to steal, from Bracco, the peasant who
reportedly is arguing with his father about a piece of land, and from
Liza's mother Khokhlakova (who instead advises him to get into the gold
mining business). Ever more desperate, Dmitri finds out that Grushenka has
disappeared from Samsonov's house. Dmitri fears that she went to his father's
house and breaks into the house. He sees his father preparing money for
Grushenka (exactly the amount of money Dmitri needs for Katerina).
Dmitri doesn't know what happens next. He only remembers running away from
the house, being chased by the servant Grigorij who screams "father's killer"
to him, and killing Grigorij to get rid of him.
Still dripping blood from his hands, Dmitri looks for Grushenka. He has the
pockets full of money (obviously the money that his father had ready for
Grushenka), with which he rescues the pistols that he had pawned and buys
good and drinks like he did before for an orgy with Grushenka. Delirious,
he sets out to chase Grushenka and her officer. He catches up with them
at the place where he had partied with Grushenka. Grushenka's officer turns out
to be a Pole traveling with a fellow Pole and with Kalganov.
Grushenka is initially
afraid of Dmitri, but then her officer reveals his true soul: first he robs
Dmitri of a lot of money by cheating at a game of cards, and then almost accepts
Dmitri's offer of a lot more money to leave Grushenka to him.
Grushenka realizes that the officer has returned only for her money.
Dmitri, Grushenka, Kalganov and the innkeeper trap the two Poles in a room
and then indulge in a party. (There is much anti-Polish racism in this chapter)
Dmitri has now conquered Grushenka's heart but the police arrive to arrest him
for the murders.
Dmitri confesses that he is guilty of killing Grigorij, but is surprised when
the police chief accuses him of killing his father instead. Grigorij is
actually alive, although badly injured by Dmitri's blow.
Dmitri declares that he did not kill his father. When his father saw him
outside, Dmitri ran away. He ran into Grigorij and thought he had kill him;
but he swears that he never entered his father's house. The police chief is
puzzled because the door was open: the old man must have opened it of his
own will. Dmitri tells the chief that Smerdiakov was the only other person
who knew the secret signal to announce Grushenka's arrival, the signal that
would have prompted the old man to open the door in the middle of the night.
However, Dmitri himself does not believe the vile Smerdiakov capable of
killing, and the police found him in bed seized by an epileptic fit.
Dmitri's version of the facts is already had to believe and it becomes
even less credible when he refuses to tell the police how he got the money.
The police count the money that he spent and what is left: the total is
actually a lot less than the money that was in his father's envelope.
Grigorij testifies that the door of the house was open when he saw Dmitri,
a fact that further complicates Dmitri's position. Dmitri protests that
it must have been Smerdiakov. The police chief finally gets a full confession
from Dmitri: Dmitri still had some money left from the sum that Katerina
originally gave him to send to her sister. He had kept that money all the
time hoping to eventually return the whole sum. Having decided to commit
suicide, Dmitri also decided to use that money for one last orgy with
Grushenka (as he had done with the first part of the money). He still protests
he did not kill his father.
Kolja Krasotkin is an amazingly intelligent 14-year old boy who is already a hardcore socialist.
Kolja used to the Iliusha's mentor and protector, but then their friendship
Iliusha is gravely ill and Aliosha thinks he will die. Iliusha's biggest regret
is that he caused the death of his loved dog Zucka by feeding it a deadly
meal (an idea that came from Smerdjakov). Kolja surprises him twice,
first by visiting him and making peace with him and secondly by bringing
Zucka, that he found and obviously survived the meal. Katerina has paid for
a doctor to visit Iliusha. The anti-authority Kolja is hostile to the pompous
decorated doctor, who
prescribes a cure in Sicily for he boy and a cure to the Caucasus for the
wife and the sick daughter of the captain.
Alyosha visits Grushenka, who has moved in with the old harmless Maksimov. She
tells him that she doesn't understand Dmitri who feels guilty towards a boy
but does not want to reveal the name and why. She also tells Alyosha that there
is some kind of secret between Ivan and Dmitri. Alyosha is even surprised that
they are in touch at all after hating each other so much over Katerina's love.
Alyosha then visits Liza
Her mother Khokhlakova is upset that a newspaper published a false story of
her being the lover of Dmitri. She thinks it's the doing of the evil Rakitin,
who fell in love with her and was kicked out by her after offending a friend
of hers. She has more shocking news for Alyosha: Ivan wants to marry Liza.
Liza herself is even more upset. She is more childish than ever: she tells
Alyosha that she wants to be unhappy. She wants someone who will marry her
and the cheat on her and abandon her. She also feels an urge to do evil and
begs Alyosha to save her from herself. She gives Alyosha a letter for Ivan.
Alyosha finds Rakitin with Dmitri. They just had an argument.
Dmitri knows that Rakitin has been romancing
Liza's middle-aged mother not out of love but just out of greed. Dmitri tells
Alyosha that he feels reborn. He wants to live and now believes in god, and
despises the atheists like Rakitin. Finally, Dmitri tells Alyosha the secret:
Ivan is organizing an escape, so that Dmitri and Grushenka can start a new life
Alyosha then visits his brother Ivan. Ivan tells Alyosha that Katerina has
a letter that proves Dmitri is the killer of their father. Then suddenly
Ivan becomes hostile, convinced that Alyosha has seen someone whom he has been
hiding. Alyosha does not understand. Ivan, however, says that he never wants to
see him again.
Ivan visits Smerdiakov three times. The first time he realizes that
Smerdiakov is not sick at all. He is simply skilled at faking an epileptic
fit. He fooled the doctor. Ivan confronts Smerdiakov: before Ivan left the
town, Smerdiakov predicted the murder and even the day and the place.
Not only does Ivan know about the incriminating letter that Dmitri wrote to
Katerina, but Smerdiakov has a powerful alibi: his adoptive mother swears
that he was in bed the whole night.
During the second visit Smerdiakov slowly shows how guilty Ivan is of the
murder. Ivan hated his father and wanted him to die in order to inherit his
money. Even better if Dmitri were accused of the murder, as this would further
increase Ivan's share of the inheritance. When he leaves Smerdiakov, Ivan
admits to himself that there is truth in what the evil kid said.
Full of remorse, Ivan has then decided to sacrifice part of his inheritance
to organize Dmitri's escape.
Meanwhile, Ivan's relationship with Katerina has become more turbulent than ever.
Ivan loves and hates Katerina. Katerina denies that she loves Ivan but in
fact she does. They are like enemies who are madly in love.
During the third visit, Smerdiakov finally admits to killing Ivan's father and
details how it went. He counted on Dmitri committing the murder and made it easy
for Dmitri. However, Dmitri didn't, so Smerdiakov had to. To prove it,
Smerdiakov pulls out the money that he stole from the old man.
Grigorij's testimony happens to perfectly suit his plan. Smerdiakov interpreted
Ivan's behavior as a mandate to kill the old man. Ivan, in fact, followed
Smerdiakov's suggestion to get out of town. Basically, Smerdiakov believes that
they had a deal: Ivan would get the inheritance, and Smerdiakov would keep the
money he stole. However, now Smerdiakov does not want the money anymore and
returns it to Ivan. Furthermore, Smerdiakov claims to have been converted
to nihilism by Ivan's philosophy of life.
Ivan swears that he never intended for Smerdiakov or
anyone else to commit the murder and swears to turn Smerdiakov in to the police.
Ivan gets delirious. He has a vision of a devil that visits him and makes fun
of his nihilism. Alyosha brings him the news that Smerdiakov hanged himself.
Ivan, in pain, relates his nightmare to Alyosha.
Alyosha feels that Ivan is fighting God in person, and that God is winning.
The trial becomes a show that draws the attention of all the gossipers.
All the protagonists of the story are called as witnesses. Rakitin is
discredited when Grushenka reveals that he is her cousin and has been taking
money from her. Ivan insists on testifying despite his illness. He fully
confesses Smerdiakov's crime and his own responsibility and returns the
package with the money. However, a hysterical Katerina thinks that Ivan is
accusing himself only to save his brother and only to save him because Ivan
thinks that Katerina loves Dmitri, and so she produces the incriminating letter.
She now hates Dmitri whom she believes always despised her for asking him the
favor. Grushenka shouts in vain. Dmitri is sentenced to 20 years of hard labor.
Alyosha and Katerina discuss Ivan's plan to have Dmitri escape while
en route to Siberia. Ivan is too sick to carry it out.
Katerina then visits Dmitri and confesses that she hated him but never
really thought he could be a killer.
Ilyusha dies of his illness. At the funeral
Alyosha gives a moving speech to Kolya and the boys. There are 12 of them
listening to his final sermon, just like the 12 apostles.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx) |
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