Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot

To be human among humans one has to constantly prove one’s humanity. The value of which, in the minds of others, is somehow directly juxtaposed with the value of what the society lacks or has too much of. Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot showcases the psychological blindsided-ness of the ‘others’ and of ‘society’.

Simply put, the protagonist, Prince Myshkin, is our Holy Fool.

The book is wisely-crafted though seemingly naive. It touches upon many topics. Society, religion, free will, fanaticism, politics, love, money, and morality. It seemed to me that Dostoyevsky crafted an abnormality (i.e. the Holy Fool) whose very existence seems so conceited and unexceptional that one is driven to his defense. The tone is very ironically detached which is characteristic in a Dostoyevsky novel as it pulls you closer to what it has to offer.

At times, the characters felt completely corrupted by their own seriousness. The price they pay for never truly coming to terms with a money- and power-hungry world. The book portrays the external rather than the internal struggle of such humanity. It deals with nihilism through crisp and wry dialogue, but at the same time, it feels symbolic.

The protagonist is honest but a fool nevertheless. He is privileged but his naivete and sickness make him unfortunate. He is a grown man but his unstirred sexuality and apathy make him a bit unbelievably inane. Prince Myshkin is a man of conflicting natures. And those around him who are pegged as the “minor” characters: Aglaya, Kolya, Rogozhin, and Nastasya. Though in the book they seem to exist as Prince Myshkin’s mirrors. For me, they became more real, vulnerable, and sincere as the story met its end.