Part Three, Chapter Three
by Dennis Abrams
“The incident at the vauxhall struck both mother and daughters almost with terror.” The things revealed to Lizaveta from the incident: Evgeny has been “brought into the open,” as having connections with Nastasya and Aglaya might know more about the affair than she’s letting on. Prince Shch. is pensive. Myshkin catches up with the Epanchins, near the dacha they run into Ivan Fyodorovich who guesses that something has gone wrong and takes Prince Shch. aside for a few words. Myshkin is sitting alone on the terrace and is joined by Aglaya, who hints at the possibility of a duel, “Ah, yes, listen: if someone challenged you to a duel, what would you do?…Would you be very afraid?,” and suggests that he need to learn how to shoot and load a pistol. “Listen now and learn well: first, buy good gunpowder, not damp…I want you to shoot several times a day and learn to hit the mark without fail. Will you do it?” Myshkin laughs, vexing Aglaya. Ivan Fyodorovich speaks with Myshkin, talking about Lizaveta’s ‘hysterics,’ and taking at least partial blame for Nastasya’s actions. Suspicions regarding Nastasya and Evgeny’s uncle. Ivan Fyodorovich tells Myshkin that a month earlier, Evgeny had proposed to Aglaya and been rejected. Ivan tells Myshkin that Aglaya “this cold blooded little demon,” had announced with a grin, “that this madwomen ‘has taken it into her head to marry me off at all costs to Prince Lev Nikolaich, and that’s why she’s trying to drive Evgeny Pavlych out of our house…” The Epanchin’s sincere feelings of love for Myshkin. During her conversation with Myshkin, she had passed a note to him, asking him to meet her the next morning on the bench in the park at 7:00, and feeling the need to remind him not to tell anyone about the note or the meeting, and that “It is the same green bench I showed you today. Shame on you! I was forced to add that as well.” Keller appears, and offers to be Myshkin’s “second” in the duel he is certain is going to take place with Lieutenant Molovtysov, “you seized him by the arms. For a noble person, it’s hard to suffer that in person.” Myshkin laughs at the ridiculousness of it all. The twelve bottles of champagne. “That the prince was in a fever was certainly correct.” Myshkin wanders in the park, kisses the note from Aglaya, as always felt sad at moments of joy, but, “If anyone had told him at that moment he had fallen in love, that he was passionately in love, he would have rejected the idea with astonishment and perhaps even with indignation….He never once doubted it or allowed for the slightest ‘second’ thought about the possibility of this girl loving him or even the possibility of him loving the girl.” Rogozhin appears — it is the first time they have met since the encounter at the inn with the knife and seizure. Myshkin wonders at Rogozhin’s spitefulness, “Why are you hiding your hand from me? I tell you, I consider all that happened then as nothing but delirium: all that you went through that day I now know as well as I know my own self. What you were imagining did not and could not exist. Why, then, should our spite exist?” Rogozhin tells Myshkin that Nastasya needs to see him. Rogozhin doesn’t hate Myshkin, but doesn’t like him either. Myshkin says he had a presentiment that Rogozhin would attack him, “We sensed it word for word…If you hadn’t raised your hand against me (which God warded off), how would I come out before you now? Since I suspected you of it anyway, our sin is the same, word for word!” Myshkin acknowledges Rogozhin’s jealousy. Rogozhin tells Myshkin that Nastasya knows that he loves Aglaya, and that she won’t marry Rogozhin until Myshkin marries Aglaya, “She says: ‘I want to see him happy’ — so that means she loves you.” Rogozhin plans to marry Nastasya in three weeks. The next day is Myshkin’s birthday.
A Nastasya/Myshkin/Aglaya triangle? Any comments? What is Myshkin’s “new life?”
Part Three, Chapter Four