Course Hero Logo

The Idiot | Study Guide

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Get the eBook on Amazon to study offline.

Buy on Amazon Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "The Idiot Study Guide." Course Hero. 4 Oct. 2019. Web. 10 June 2023. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2019, October 4). The Idiot Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved June 10, 2023, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2019)



Course Hero. "The Idiot Study Guide." October 4, 2019. Accessed June 10, 2023.


Course Hero, "The Idiot Study Guide," October 4, 2019, accessed June 10, 2023,



Fyodor Dostoevsky

Years Published





Philosophy, Religion

Perspective and Narrator

The Idiot is told by a third-person omniscient narrator, although the narrator occasionally breaks in to address the reader in the first person, using the pronoun we.


For the most part, The Idiot is written in the past tense, although when the narrator breaks in to address the reader, he sometimes uses the present tense.

About the Title

The protagonist of The Idiot, Prince Myshkin, sometimes refers to himself as an idiot when he recalls his early life, before he was treated for debilitating epilepsy. Others also refer to Myshkin as an idiot when they hear about his epilepsy, and sometimes they call him an idiot because they don't understand his worldview. Prince Myshkin is also called a "holy fool" (yurodivy) by Myshkin's evil double, Rogozhin. In Russian Orthodoxy the expression "fool for God" or "fool in Christ" occasionally refers to a person with limited understanding and intelligence. More often, though, it describes a deeply spiritual person who pretends to be insane to reveal and speak truths about society and holiness. The prince is a holy fool as well as an epileptic, but he returns to an even more primitive condition of idiocy at the end of the novel, after he fails to save either of the two women he loves. It may be that the prince's divine standard of compassion is incompatible with the material world, and thus he returns to silence.


This study guide for Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Idiot offers summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.

Buy this book from
Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about The Idiot? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!