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MonkeyNotes-The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky
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THEMES

Major

The destructive power of goodness, is the major theme of the novel. Prince Myshkin is an embodiment of goodness. He is kind, generous and understanding. However, he is not firm or shrewd. Thus, people take advantage of his goodness and exploit him. He tries to make others happy but ends up making himself unhappy. Devoid of practical sense, his goodness makes him helpless to resolve his plight.

Minor

Two minor Themes stand out in the novel. The first one is the dichotomy between Hypocrisy and simplicity. Humble, honest and uncorrupted Prince Myshkin steps into the hypocritical society of St. Petersburg and tries to find acceptance. Some admire him; others envy him, while others ridicule him. However, no one tries to understand him. Thus, Myshkin remains a lonely man in the world of Hypocrites.

Another minor theme worth mentioning is the clash between Beauty and Goodness. Two beautiful ladies love Prince Myshkin, the embodiment of goodness. Beauty gives them power but makes them arrogant. Goodness allows Myshkin to be kind and tolerant. When these two contradictory forces come together, there is a clash.


MOOD

The mood of the novel is somber, though comic relief is provided by the Yepanchins, Lebedyev and General Ivolgin. As the Prince tries to save Nastasya from a life of misery, he paves his way to doom. He infuriates Rogozhin, provokes Aglaya and tempts Nastasya to act against his wishes. His goodness is misunderstood. He loves Aglaya but chooses to marry Nastasya. He calls Rogozhin his friend but takes Nastasya away from Rogozhin. He desires to cure Nastasya of her madness but himself relapses into insanity. Destiny plays a cruel joke on the Prince. However, in relating this tragic tale, Dostoevsky does not indulge in melodrama. He does not describe gory acts but relates the tragic moments through the reaction of the characters to the situation. This way lightens the grimness of the tragedy.

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MonkeyNotes-The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky
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