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Monday, March 8, 2010


Before heading to Pavlovsk, Myshkin decides to place a visit to a residence on Gorohovy Street which is described as a "large gloomy house" of a "dirty green color" with "very few windows" of a "inhospitable and frigid" character, as if "keeping something dark and hidden."  Though seeing the residence for the first time, Myshkin immediately recognizes it as the home of Rogozhin which he shares with his mother and brother.  Everything on the inside of the house is dark, causing Myshkin to remark, "It's so dark!  You are living here in darkness."  The one exception is a painting by Hans Holbein, Dead Christ, which catches Myshkin's attention and provokes a discussion about Christianity.

The house is a perfect reflection of Rogozhin himself.  Everything about him is dark and hidden;  the reader still does not understand his character, though he has made several appearances.  He has gone from helping Myshkin locate the Epanchins to a man obsessed with Natasya Filippovna.  He loves her violently, one time beating her for cheating with Keller, afterwards not eating or sleeping for 36 hours.  Myshkin tells him, "There's no distinguishing your love from hate," and says, "Any man would be better than you, because you really may murder her," repeating an idea he stated earlier in the novel to Ganya.  Myshkin, with whom Rogozhin recognizes Natasya is in love, distinguishes his love by stating, "I don't love her with love, but with pity."  Both men love her but Rogozhin's is an unhealthy love.

Natasya has run away from Rogozhin to Myshkin several times but always returns to Rogozhin, sensing she would ruin Myshkin.  Therefore, Myshkin has become a sort of rival to Rogozhin.  Myshkin has felt that Rogozhin has been following him several times, though Rogozhin denies it.  Myshkin does not feel confortable around him and describes his "friendly smile" as "very unbecoming."  Rogozhin admits that he likes Myshkin while they are together but starts to hate him when they do not see one another, which explains his attack on Myshkin shortly after the latter leaves the residence.  The two exchange crosses, a sign that both are seeking salvation.  Apparently, Myshkin is looked upon as a savior by both Rogozhin and Natasya, the former needing salvation from his violent passion and the latter needing salvation from her past.  Myshkin tells Rogozhin, "You are passionate in everything; you push everything to a passion," a trait that can be traced to his father, who was a Skoptsy, a Christian sect of Russian self-mutilators.

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