Prince Myshkin

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Prince Lev Nikolaevich Myshkin is the main protagonist of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's The Idiot.

Dostoyevsky wanted to create a character that was "entirely positive... with an absolutely beautiful nature," and a good way to make such a character plausible in 19th century St Petersburg society was to make him an "idiot". He lives his entire youth in Switzerland in an epileptic cloud; he never attends school and at age 26 he returns to Russia Among St. Petersburg society, he appears to be an "idiot", but he possesses an emotional intelligence that surpasses all of the characters in the novel.

The episode concerning a picture of Nastasya Filippovna exemplifies how his innocent indiscretions lead others to conclude he is an idiot. He is visiting General Yepanchin in hopes of finding work when Ganya pays the General a visit. The General has encouraged Ganya to propose (to Nastasya Filipovna) and Ganya has just returned from declaring his intentions to her. Nastasya has left Ganya with a portrait of herself, and as the two men admire it, the Prince is struck by the beauty of the woman that Rogozhin has recently told him about (The Rogue). Lev Nikolaevich is then escorted to an adjacent room where he is to meet the General's wife and three daughters.

The Prince casually mentions, in a discussion about beauty, that he finds Aglaya, one of the sisters, to be almost as beautiful as Nastasya Filipovna. The four women are very surprised that he should know...
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