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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Life Among the Trees

Ippolit shows up at Myshkin's villa and delivers his "Essential Explanation," his final thoughts before he dies.  He begins by explaining his reason for coming to Pavlovsk.  At first he was content to lay in his bed in St. Petersberg and die alone, having no desire to experience life any longer.  His only view of the outside world was Meyer's brick wall outside his window.  Nevertheless, he was invited to Pavlovsk by Myshkin, not to die but to live.  This statement changed his entire perspective, so that he went Pavlovsk to see people and the trees, leaving behind Meyer's wall.

Ippolit became attracted to living things, instead of the inanimate wall.  He began talking to his best friend Kolya about other people's lives.  He became greatly interested in how people used the life they were given.  He states, "I clutched at life, I wanted to live."  He tried to grasp how people could be unhappy while they still had life.  He describes Surikov, a widowed man that lives in poverty whose baby daughter froze to death.  Even in his unfortunate condition, Surikov still has life:  "If he's alive he has everything in his power.  Whose fault is it if he doesn't understand that?"  Ippolit is almost envious of his condition because he still has the ability live.

The above painting is Landscape with a Goatherd and Goats (1636-7) by Claude Lorrain.

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