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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Holbein's Christ

Ippolit continues his explanation by describing his encounter with Rogozhin.  The two only recently met, and, despite Ippolit's declaring how different they are, one similarity they share is their aversion to Myshkin.  Though Ippolit chooses not to disclose the details of their conversation, one figures Myshkin must be an explored topic.

Ippolit accompanies Rogozhin to his home and comments that it is "like a graveyard."  Not only does this description correspond with Myshkin's description but it contrasts directly with Ippolit's earlier pursuit of life.  Now he is making acquaintence with a potential murderer who obviously does not value life.  While at Rogozhin's home, Ippolit also notices the Holbein painting and is captivated by it.  He notes how other artists have painted Christ in the beauty of his sacrifice but Holbein's work has "no trace of beauty."  Instead, there is agony in every detail, having the "look of suffering in the face."  Ippolit does not understand how nature, which he calls "a merciless, dumb beast," could be so cruel to a perfect being.  Christ is depicted devoid of divinity, not appearing as the Son of God but as an individual recently beaten to death. 

The painting is shocking to Ippolit and changes his view of his situation.  Whereas before he was drawn to life and living things, this depiction of the death of Jesus has caused him to question the value of life.  He longer wants to live and wants to bring about his own death faster than it is currently progressing, deciding, therefore, to commit suicide at dawn, though his attempt is unsuccessful.  This change in Ippolit is provoked by the painting, though Rogozhin is also responsible as one who seems to be enshrouded in death.

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