The Idiot | Study Guide

Fyodor Dostoevsky

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The Idiot | Chapter Summaries

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Timeline of Events

  • November 1867

    Prince Myshkin meets Rogozhin, who tells the prince of his passion for Nastasya Filippovna.

    Part 1, Chapter 1
  • Morning of same day

    Prince Myshkin visits General Epanchin, hoping to meet his wife Mrs. Epanchin, a distant relation.

    Part 1, Chapter 3
  • Lunchtime, same day

    Prince Myshkin sees a portrait of Nastasya and meets Mrs. Epanchin and her daughters.

    Part 1, Chapter 7
  • Night of same day

    Prince Myshkin goes to Nastasya Filippovna's birthday party to warn her not to marry Ganya.

    Part 1, Chapter 14
  • Later that night

    Prince Myshkin proposes to Nastasya Filippovna after Rogozhin arrives with 100,000 rubles.

    Part 1, Chapter 15
  • End of the party

    Nastasya Filippovna throws the money into the fire and runs away with Rogozhin.

    Part 1, Chapter 16
  • Few months later

    Prince Myshkin briefly shelters Nastasya Filippovna in Moscow after she runs away from Rogozhin.

    Part 2, Chapter 1
  • June 1868

    Prince Myshkin arrives back in Petersburg, following Nastasya Filippovna and Rogozhin.

    Part 2, Chapter 2
  • Afternoon of same day

    Prince Myshkin visits Rogozhin, who shows him a copy of the dead Christ painted by Holbein.

    Part 2, Chapter 4
  • Evening of same day

    Rogozhin almost stabs Prince Myshkin at his hotel, right before the prince has an epileptic fit.

    Part 2, Chapter 5
  • Several days later

    Ippolit, who is dying of consumption, reads his acquaintances a nihilistic manifesto.

    Part 3, Chapter 7
  • Several days later

    Prince Myshkin confesses his love to Aglaya.

    Part 4, Chapter 5
  • Few days later

    The Epanchins introduce Prince Myshkin to society, and he has an epileptic fit at this party.

    Part 4, Chapter 7
  • Next day

    Aglaya, envious of Nastasya Filippovna, insults her in front of Prince Myshkin.

    Part 4, Chapter 8
  • Same day

    Nastasya Filippovna threatens to demand that Prince Myshkin marry her as he promised.

    Part 4, Chapter 8
  • Same day

    Prince Myshkin cannot leave a fainting Nastasya Filippovna, and Aglaya storms out.

    Part 4, Chapter 8
  • Beginning of July

    Nastasya Filippovna runs away with Rogozhin instead of marrying Prince Myshkin on her wedding day.

    Part 4, Chapter 10
  • Next day

    Myshkin finds Rogozhin in Petersburg; Rogozhin shows him the murdered body of Nastasya Filippovna.

    Part 4, Chapter 11
  • Night and next morning

    Prince Myshkin stays with Rogozhin until the police come and then falls into a catatonic state.

    Part 4, Chapter 11
  • Months later

    Prince Myshkin is returned to the Swiss clinic by Evgeny Pavlovich, who visits him.

    Part 4, Chapter 12

Chapter Summaries Chart

Chapter Summary
Part 1, Chapters 1–2 Two men in their 20s of very different temperaments and appearance meet in a third-class carriage heading to Petersbur... Read More
Part 1, Chapters 3–4 Prince Myshkin wishes to make the acquaintance of good people he may be related to, since he's been out of Russia for ... Read More
Part 1, Chapters 5–6 General Epanchin leads his wife to believe her relative is a poor idiot who needs feeding, since he wishes to draw her... Read More
Part 1, Chapters 7–8 Mrs. Epanchin opines that she and the prince are exactly alike. When pressed to say something about Aglaya's face, Pri... Read More
Part 1, Chapters 9–10 After a flustered Ganya introduces Nastasya Filippovna to his mother and sister, she begins rudely quizzing them about... Read More
Part 1, Chapters 11–12 Kolya, who is impressed with Prince Myshkin's behavior, visits him in his room, soon followed by Varya, who thanks him... Read More
Part 1, Chapters 13–14 Prince Myshkin is worried about how he will be received, but he is determined to tell Nastasya Filippovna not to marry... Read More
Part 1, Chapters 15–16 A dozen men have barged in, all somewhat drunk. They are led by Rogozhin, with Lebedev at his heels. When Rogozhin see... Read More
Part 2, Chapters 1–2 A few days after the birthday party Prince Myshkin leaves for Moscow to retrieve his inheritance and is away from Pete... Read More
Part 2, Chapters 3–4 Prince Myshkin leaves Lebedev to visit Rogozhin's house, a three-story building. Rogozhin's own apartment, where he li... Read More
Part 2, Chapters 5–6 After leaving Rogozhin, Prince Myshkin fails to find the Epanchins at home and also misses Kolya at the hotel. He find... Read More
Part 2, Chapters 7–8 Aglaya recites the poem about the poor knight for the assembled company, combining sincere and "beautiful feeling with... Read More
Part 2, Chapters 9–10 Ganya addresses Keller, the author of the article, chiding him for playing fast and loose with the facts. Ganya has pr... Read More
Part 2, Chapters 11–12 The next day Adelaida and Prince Shch. stop by and ask Prince Myshkin about the woman who shouted at Evgeny Pavlovich,... Read More
Part 3, Chapters 1–2 Although the Epanchin family is respected and respectable, they are also eccentric. Mrs. Epanchin fears her own eccent... Read More
Part 3, Chapters 3–4 After this incident Aglaya finds Prince Myshkin on the terrace. She attempts to give him pointers about preparing and ... Read More
Part 3, Chapters 5–6 Ippolit, who has fallen asleep on the sofa, wakes up and announces to the company that Prince Myshkin is in love. He i... Read More
Part 3, Chapters 7–8 Ippolit says he has a pistol and has decided to die in Pavlovsk, at sunrise, in the park. He claims he has the right t... Read More
Part 3, Chapters 9–10 Mrs. Epanchin takes Prince Myshkin back to her dacha because she wants an explanation. He tells her Aglaya requested t... Read More
Part 4, Chapters 1–2 Ganya still has the hope he might win back Aglaya, and his sister Varya had discreetly been doing her part to reunite ... Read More
Part 4, Chapters 3–4 The Ivolgin family is concerned with General Ivolgin's erratic behavior, which has gone beyond his normal antics. Lebe... Read More
Part 4, Chapters 5–6 As it turns out, Prince Myshkin and Aglaya are not engaged, although everyone anticipates that Aglaya's fate is soon t... Read More
Part 4, Chapters 7–8 At one point the conversation touches on the prince's guardian and mentor, Pavlishchev, whom one of the guests says em... Read More
Part 4, Chapters 9–10 The narrator, who has actively broken into the story from time to time, now addresses the reader, admitting to a limit... Read More
Part 4, Chapters 11–12 The next day Prince Myshkin goes to Petersburg and shows up at Rogozhin's house, but the servants tell him the couple ... Read More
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