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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Natasya Filippovna

Upon leaving the Epanchin household, Myshkin goes with Ganya, the secretary of General Epanchin, to the home of Ganya's parents. Ganya is ashamed of his family in general because of their poverty and of his father, General Ivolgin, in particular because of his tendency to make up stories. General Ivolgin tells Myshkin that he knew his father, which isn't true, though Prince listens to his story politely.

At this point, a new character is introduced who has been referred to many times by several different characters. Natasya shows up unannounced at the Ivolgin home, much to the embarrassment of Ganya, who, though truly in love with Aglaia, an Epanchin daughter, has been offered a significant sum to marry Natasya. General Ivolgin introduces himself to Natasya and proceeds to tell her how he once threw a dog out of a train window after that dog's own performed the same action to a cigar he was smoking. General Ivolgin becomes flustered when Natasya points out she had read the same story from a newspaper a week prior.

Natasya is a woman who has been mistreated by men. She was adopted by Totsky, a rich man who once seduced her but who now at 55 is ready to be rid of Natasya so he can marry one of the Epanchin daughters, Alexandra. He has promised Natasya 75,000 roubles and Natasya realizes that Ganya is only agreeing to the marriage due to pecuniary interests. At the same time she is involved with Rogozhin, who is in love with her but who Myshkin declares would marry Natasya and murder her a week later.

It is at this moment that Natasya meets Prince, who is enraptured with her beauty. Myshkin shows strong emotion but is quiet in her presence. Natasya herself seems intrigued by Prince but is too distracted by everything going on around her to pay him much attention. However, Dostoevsky suggests that this is only the beginning of an interesting relatioship between the two.

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