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MonkeyNotes-The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky
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Chapter 4

Summary

Just before the Prince enters the chamber of Mrs. Yepanchin and her daughters, the ladies are shown pursuing their normal activities. Endowed with good health and appetite, they eat heartily. They have coffee soon after they wake up from bed and then present themselves at the dining room to have lunch with their mother at thirty minutes past twelve. They wait eagerly to partake off a hearty meal in a well-laid out table. Mr. Yepanchin who usually joins his family for lunch, was hesitant to do so today because of certain recent developments.

General Yepanchin had made the acquaintance of Ivan Totsky and the two had become friends. Totsky had hinted to the General that he would be interested in marrying one of the elder daughters. He had also revealed to Yepanchin about his relationship with Nastasya Philippovna. Nastasya was the orphaned daughter of a businessman named Barashkov, whose acquaintance Totsky had made in the past. After the demise of Barashkov, Totsky had taken Nastasya under his care. He had kept her in his estate and arranged for her upbringing. When she was twelve, her youthful beauty had captured his eyes and he had decided to provide her education and refinement.


A few years later, Totsky had shifted her to another of his estates and kept her under the care of a widow. Totsky would often visit her and also spend a few months with her. However, his roving eyes had soon changed focus and he got attracted to another girl. When this news had reached the ears of Nastasya, she had appeared suddenly at Totsky’s house and warned him of his errant behavior. Feeling threatened, Totsky had turned to Nastasya again but the relationship had lost its charm for him. He had felt restricted with Nastasya and longed to escape from her clutches. With this intention, he had approached General Yepanchin. He had requested the General to persuade his secretary, Ganya to win the affection of Nastasya. Since Ganya had been smitten by the beauty of the girl, the General wanted his secretary to propose to the girl. Both Totsky and the General had also spoken to Nastasya about Ganya and told the girl about the endowments she would receive in marrying the youth. Nastasya had asked for time to consider the proposal. She wanted to ascertain the sincerity of Ganya’s love before marrying him. Thus she had communicated with the Yepanchin girls and found out that Ganya was marrying her for money.

General Yepanchin and Totsky had been upset to hear about these recent developments. Madam Yepanchin was feeling disturbed because she had heard rumors linking her husband with Nastasya. It had come to the ears of the lady that the General, who had fallen for the charms of Nastasya, had bought the girl a string of costly pearls for her birthday. Lizaveta Prokofyevna had decided to question her husband about it. Mr. Yepanchin was aware of his wife’s suspicions and was guilty to face her at lunch. Thus, he was happy with the visit of the Prince. The General could divert the attention of his wife from himself to the Prince.

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MonkeyNotes-The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky
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