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. 23 Sep. 2023. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2019, October 4). The Idiot Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved September 23, 2023, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2019)



Course Hero. "The Idiot Study Guide." October 4, 2019. Accessed September 23, 2023.


Course Hero, "The Idiot Study Guide," October 4, 2019, accessed September 23, 2023,

The Idiot | Characters

Character Description
Prince Myshkin Prince Lev Nikolaevich Myshkin is the protagonist and central figure of the novel, whose Christlike compassion turns out to be incompatible with the real world. Read More
Rogozhin Parfyon Semyonovich Rogozhin is the antagonist or villain of the novel. He is Prince Myshkin's double, an atheist driven by his strong passions to pursue a hopeless love. Read More
Nastasya Filippovna Nastasya Filippovna Barashkov, also called Nastya, is the "fatal woman" of the novel, pursued by Prince Myshkin and Rogozhin as well as by other men. Read More
Aglaya Aglaya Ivanovna Epanchin is the spoiled and eccentric youngest daughter of the Epanchins. She falls in love with Prince Myshkin but forces him to make a choice that will forever keep them apart. Read More
Lebedev Lukyan Timofeevich (or Timofeich) Lebedev is a double-dealing trickster who throws up roadblocks for other characters at inopportune times and provides comic relief in this somber novel. Read More
Ippolit Ippolit Terentyev is a dying consumptive (person suffering from tuberculosis) and the son of Mrs. Terentyev (the mistress of General Ivolgin). Read More
Ganya Gavrila Ardalionovich Ivolgin, also called Ganya, Ganechka, and Ganka, is a social-climbing petty bureaucrat who consents to marry Nastasya Filippovna for money. Read More
Adelaida Adelaida Ivanovna Epanchin is the middle sister in the Epanchin family. She is a painter. She becomes engaged to Prince Shch. and eventually marries him.
Alexandra Alexandra Ivanovna Epanchin is the eldest sister in the Epanchin family and a musician. Early in the novel Totsky is being considered as a possible suitor and future husband for her.
Princess Belokonsky Princess Belokonsky, also called "old Belokonsky," is the center of the social scene and Mrs. Epanchin's friend and patroness. She befriends Prince Myshkin when he visits Moscow.
Burdovsky Antip Burdovsky demands money from Prince Myshkin because he is convinced by Chebarov that the prince's mentor, Pavlishchev, was his true father. This is not the case.
Mrs. Burdovsky Mrs. Burdovsky is the sister of the woman Pavlishchev was in love with, who died before they could marry. This is why Pavlishchev looks after Mrs. Burdovsky and her son.
Chebarov Chebarov is the crooked lawyer who tries to convince Burdovsky that Pavlishchev was his real father, and thus that he deserves part of the prince's inheritance.
Darya Alexeevna Darya Alexeevna was a friend of Totsky's and is now a friend to Nastasya Filippovna, who sometimes stays at her house.
Doktorenko Vladimir Doktorenko is Lebedev's nephew and one of the rowdy young men who comes to demand that Prince Myshkin give part of his inheritance to Burdovsky. The narrator implies Doktorenko is a socialist and a nihilist.
General Epanchin General Ivan Fyodorovich Epanchin, also called the general, is the husband of Mrs. Epanchin. He rose from a low birth, as the son of a common soldier, to wealth and prominence in the army.
Mrs. Epanchin Elizaveta Prokofyevna Epanchin, also Lizaveta Prokofyevna, is the wife of General Epanchin and a distant relation of Prince Myshkin. She is similar to him in having a compassionate heart and an honest and open demeanor; she is not afraid to look foolish in the service of speaking the truth.
Evgeny Pavlovich Evgeny Pavlovich Radomsky is a former officer and suitor of Aglaya. He is rumored to be very rich, but some of his inheritance is squandered by his uncle.
Evgeny Pavlovich's uncle Evgeny Pavlovich's uncle commits suicide after embezzling government funds.
Ferdyshchenko Ferdyshchenko is a boarder at the Ivolgin house and a man of questionable character. He is one of the group that tries to extort money from Prince Myshkin.
General Ivolgin General Ardalion Alexandrovich Ivolgin, also called the general, is a drunk and a fabulist who keeps a mistress and burdens his family with his constant drunkenness and debt. His clownish antics create humorous scenes in the novel.
Keller Lieutenant Keller, retired from the army, is a dissolute character with a bit of a conscience. He befriends the prince and is ready to stand up for him.
Kolya Nikolai Ardalionovich Ivolgin, usually called Kolya, is the youngest child of the Ivolgins. He leads a somewhat independent life apart from his family and serves as a go-between, often taking messages from one person to another. When the novel opens he is 13, but six months later the narrator says he is 15.
Marfa Marfa Borisovna Terentyev, also called the captain's widow, is the mother of Ippolit and the mistress of General Ivolgin. She has been carrying on a long-term affair with the general, with whom she has a love-hate relationship.
Nina Alexandrovna Nina Alexandrovna Ivolgin is the long-suffering wife of General Ivolgin who forgives him everything and even tries to help the family of his mistress.
Pavlishchev Nikolai Andreevich Pavlishchev is Prince Myshkin's guardian who brought him up after his parents died and sent him to Switzerland for a cure for his epilepsy. He is dead two years when the story opens.
Ptitsyn Ivan Petrovich Ptitsyn, also called Vanka, is a moneylender who boards with the Ivolgins and ends up marrying Varya.
Polish count The Polish count marries Aglaya at the very end of the novel.
Professor Schneider Professor Schneider, also called Doctor Schneider, has a clinic in Switzerland, and he helps Prince Myshkin get his epilepsy under control.
Prince Shch. Prince Shch. is Adelaida's suitor; he ends up marrying her.
Totsky Afanasy Ivanovich Totsky is a despicable landowner and capitalist who grooms a pre-teenage Nastasya Filippovna to be his mistress and then begins having sexual relations with her when she is 16. When the novel begins, he is trying to pass her on to Ganya with a settlement of 75,000 rubles.
Varya Varvara Ardalionovna Ivolgin, also called Varya and Varka, is Ganya's sister. She is not afraid to stand up to her brother. She is also practical, marrying Ptitsyn for the sake of her family (they all come to live with him).
Vera Vera Lukyanovna Lebedev is Lebedev's daughter.
Cite This Study Guide

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