Sunday, February 28, 2010

Many Turns of Events


Hans Holbein's painting of Christ after the crucifixion figured into Ippolit's confession toward the end of Part III, noting the human anguish depicted in the painting.  It was an odd confession as you figured from the way it was presented, hand written in a sealed envelope, to the Prince that it would somehow incriminate the Prince in some "crime," as earlier Ippolit and Keller had tried to challenge the Prince's inheritance in favor of Burdovsky.  Again, there was much reference to the idle aristocracy versus those whose labor counted for naught (not that any of them "worked"), but ultimately the confession had to do with Ippolit himself, who was dying from consumption and figured he had only a few weeks left in his short life.

Ippolit was all over the place in his confession as was this part of the book in general, yet somehow Dostoevsky manages to tie much of these loose threads together with the brooding Roghozin seeming to have some control over events.  It is noted that he appears mysteriously in person's rooms in the dead of night, as if an apparition, looking upon both the Prince and Ippolit on separate occasions and invading their dreams.

The chapter was really more a series of anecdotes and confessions told over the course of a long summer night, which seemingly as an afterthought it is noted is the Prince's birthday.  But, the Prince wasn't expecting any guests after spending the day and early evening with the Epanchins at the outdoor theater, where the music was overshadowed by the sudden reappearance of Nastya, who created an ugly scene with some count with the Prince stepping in to try to quell matters.  But, the Prince only ends up making matters worse, leaving Aglaya to fear the worst in that the Prince will be challenged to a duel, comically instructing him on the use of pistols.  He went home ostensibly to prepare for this duel, with Keller (now a friend) giving him further pointers.  He finds his terrace already filled with uninvited guests, drinking a case of champagne Lebedev had sold to him, and ultimately toasting the Prince's birthday when it is revealed.

I'm not quite sure how the martyred Christ figures into the narrative at this point, other than this particular painting appears to imply that death is final, at least in Ippolit's Nihilist view of the universe.  The Prince appears to be cast as the "poor knight" (Aglaya's term), who seems helpless in trying to stop the wedding of Roghozin and Nastya, which he feels will only result in disaster.  Much is revealed about Nastya's odd relationship with Aglaya, and how Aglaya has come to know so much of the Prince's situation and wants to confide fully in him.  Apparently, it is Nastya who is trying to bring Aglaya and the Prince together, as she feels only Aglaya can give him happiness.  But, Aglaya feels it is Nastya that the Prince truly loves and that Nastya loves him.  Instead, Aglaya asks the Prince to be her dearest friend, someone she can confide in completely and will keep her secrets, as she feels everyone treats her as a fool.  In turn he must confide completely in her.

Later in the day, the Prince meets with Nastya, as previously planned, with three letters Aglaya had given him to return to her.  But, it is as he fears -- she now plans to go away with Roghozin, who seems to take an evil pride in his victory.

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