*Essay about the tight relationship between Christ the Lord and count Mishkin based on the novel “The Idiot” by F. M. Dostoyevsky


“And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.”

The revelation [ch.1:17:18]


We are not empowered to make a comparison between Christ the Lord and the protagonist of this novel, but we hope that God will be so merciful and will not punish our courageous attempt.


Because Christ is one but we are his sons and daughters, that is why we shall try to make a comparison between Christ and his “imagined son” count Mishkin who was created by means of the endless imagination of a brilliant writer F. M. Dostoyevsky.


We know that F. M. Dostoyevsky suffered from a latent form of schizophrenia, but we can also state that each of us suffers at a great or less extent from this disease, because it has to do with our mind and we know so little about it… That is why we do not have the right to judge him, but we shall try to perceive his works as real, breathing organisms which connect us with the world of eccentrics and unlimited imagination. But one important thing is religion and while reading one of the major novels “The Idiot” we feel that the rays of religion have penetrated beneath the letters. But how? Who shines and spreads light in the novel? His name is count Lev Nikolayevich Mishkin and he is very “sick”, but all of us are “sick” in a way. He underwent a medical treatment in Switzerland and decided to visit his native country Russia as he was particularly attached to it. But did his country receive him as warmly as people received Christ the Lord?


   It seemed that count Mishkin had come from nowhere. He was a stranger but not a stranger at all at the same time. Christ was a stranger, but he knew everything about each of us, he could read our mind and predict our actions. He was an example of how a human being should be, but human beings are unfortunately different. Count Mishkin was also an example for the Russian population of the XIX century. He was different from everybody else: he didn’t mean to steal and he didn’t have a crave for money like Ferdishnko; he didn’t want to participate in all those manipulations and intrigues that people led during that time like Gavril Ardalionovich, Lebedev and Burdovskii, he didn’t want to hurt people and cause them pain like Afanasii Ivanovich Totskii,  he wans’t carzy for women who didn’t love them like Parfion Rogojin, he wasn’t passive and insignificant like  Ivan Petrovich Ptitsin, he was sick but didn’t make a tragedy out of his disease like Ippolit Terentiev, he was strong but his body and mind went in harmony not like those of Keller, he was sincere and open not like Varvara Ardalionovna, he didn’t lie like General Ivolghin and he didn’t want to live an obscure life like the majority of them and of us… “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” (Romans [4-6:12])


 He wanted to love and offer love to the people around him, to the women that he cared so much about: Nastasia Filipovna and Aglaia Ivanovna. And these women did not understand up till the end that his love was the love of a father and not the love of a husband. They both chose him and fought for him, they fought for a clean human soul but when neither of them had him, they ended up in hell—Nastasia Filipovna was killed by Rogojin and Aglaia Ivanovna married someone she didn’t love in order to escape from her family and from the world in general. If a person can’t have what is the best then he or she does not have the patience to search for the best and either dies or spends his or her lifetime in hell, with someone they do not love… Count Mishkin forgave their nasty and immoral actions, he was like the father taming his children, but his children did not obey… “Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.” (I Corinthians [13, 14: 20])   Christ was a simple man, who wore simple clothes and wanted to help people and show them that all the vicious things mentioned above will open the way to hell and will destroy the human soul. He forgave Mary Magdalene even though she was a sinful woman and he declared that all of us are sinful and we can not throw stones at each other.


   When count Mishkin arrived he wanted to meet his relatives, but his appearance was so simple that people could not accept him the way he was: so simply and funny dressed, so open-hearted and open-minded like no one around. He arrived at the house of Ivan Fiodorovich  Epanchin and soon got to know his family : Elyzaveta Prokophievna and her three daughters—Alexandra, Adelaide and Aglaia. Elyzaveta Prokophievna was the relative of the count and during the whole novel she will love him and hate him at the same time. We all feel that Christ is our “relative”, we eat his flesh—the bread, and drink his blood—the wine, but still we love him and sometimes hate him at the same time by being mean and rude to the others, by stealing, killing other people, by betraying our friends and misunderstanding the ones we love, by cheating on people and by being who we are not. “These things I command you, that ye love one another” (John [14, 15:17]). That is what we must do—love one another, love our friends and enemies. Count Mishkin loved everyone around him but people used to mock at him, they were considering him a total “idiot”, a fool who didn’t behave like others. Christ loves all of us; he forgives our sins and listens to our prayers. People also used to consider him a fool and crucified him like a buffoon king with a thorny crown on his head. They killed the son of God who died in the name of all of us. Count Mishkin didn’t die physically but mentally he did. He went crazy because he couldn’t stand the human cruelty and what Rogojin had done to Nastasia Filipovna, he was a sinful man who threw a stone at Mary Magdalene but count Mishkin forgave him, he hug him and put his hands on his head, touched his hair and understood that Rogojin needed help, he was in the evil hands of temptations and foul plays. Even his house was haunted by evil spirits; it was like a cemetery… But anyway Christ forgave the sinful man who was crucified besides him because he confessed and Rogojin confessed as well, but unfortunately he was a lost man.


Count Mishkin went crazy because people around him were so cruel and the world was so dirty, he went crazy in his country like many of us go crazy in ours… Christ for his part couldn’t stand the sins of earth and just like count Mishkin went back to Switzerland, Christ the Lord went back to the Kingdom of Heaven, to meet his father—the GOD. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans [4-6:1])


Count Mishkin had enough patience to listen to everything that other people had to say: the confession of Ippolit, the lies of Burdovskii and the innocent imagined stories of General Ivolghin and he was always ready to welcome his friends, among them Nicola Ivolghin who cared very much about the count and whom the count taught to care about his family. Jesus Christ is also patient with us and listens to our confessions when we are in the church, at home or anywhere else. He has enough patience to listen to the whole world when we do not even care to listen to our nearest friend.


Count Mishkin never got angry and he was so sincere with the people around him that this sincerity was making people so mad! Because people got used to tell lies and they forgot to differentiate the truth and a lie. They started to believe their lies and their whole life was faked. “Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips.”( Romans [3,4:13]). Christ was judged but he was not afraid to tell the truth even with the price of death, he was urged to lie; he could have saved his life, but if he lied then his birth could be also regarded as a lie. He was true and the truth was with him.


Therefore we managed to mention just some similarities which tie these two: one is a human being and another is a saint. And the main idea remains to be the same:


“But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.” I Thessalonians [3-5:9]


*Illustration by Ilya Glazunov - "Prince Miskin"


© Art