Character Analysis

Stephan Trofimovich
Varvara Petrovna
Nikolai Stavrogin
Peter Stepanovich
Liza Tushina
Marya Timofeyevna


Stephan Trofimovich: has been married twice, but is currently a widower. During his first marriage he and his wife conceived one child, Peter Stephanovich, who was given to his aunts to be raised. Stephan takes very little interest in raising his son and instead uses the money set aside for his son in order to repay his own debts. Stephan has constant financial problems. He squanders his money and lacks any entrepreneurial skills. Stephan is able to manage a meager income through tutoring younger students and lecturing at local universities. His lectures contain ideas that are considered non-Russian and elucidate Western values. Teaching is a profession that he greatly enjoys and values, while allowing him to evince his intelligence, but has given him little deference within his community. His inability to maintain financial stability causes him to become dependent on Varvara. Dostoevsky uses the framework of Stephan's relationships to weave in the other major characters.

Varvara Petrovna: is a wealthy widow with one son, Nikolai. She is regarded as an active participant in local politics and is recognized as a woman with high social standing. She begins to assist Stephan financially and tries to mold him into her own creation. She selects his wardrobe, gives him an allowance, and most importantly allows him to hold weekly meetings with personal friends, which she financially sponsors. Varvara's ability to form this dependent relationship also creates a loyal friend. Stephan respects Varvara's generosity and assistance and is willing to maintain their friendship at any cost. This is done mostly for the sake of Stephan who truly enjoys the conversation and exposure to the social life of the town. During the weekly meetings they discuss issues relating to local current affairs or sometimes simply humankind in general.

Nikolai Stavrogin: is a former student of Stephan. After traveling and studying abroad he returns home and resides with his mother. Varvara provides him with anything he desires, but he never fully takes advantage of his opportunities. The local women find Stavrogin extremely desirable, but his obnoxious behavior gives him little credibility. His ridiculous actions include: pulling a high social standing man by the nose at a local bar, kissing another man's wife at their own party, and biting the ear of the governor. His wild antics cause him to be diagnosed with insanity. Therefore, Varvara sends Stavrogin abroad once again in hopes of curing him and also to reestablish her social standing after her son's uncivil conduct. He secretly marries Marya and has affairs with numerous women. He is an indifferent member of the group, but Peter tries to get him to be the leader. (See At Tikhon's" for more on Stavrogin).

Peter Stepanovich: is the son of Stephan. He is the leader of the group. His arrogance and deceiving ways are apparent, but overlooked by the community. He is never at a loss of words and is very effective in speaking clearly and saying what people want to hear. This aspect of his personality is seen in his ability to downplay the events that have occurred in Part I. All of his actions have significant meaning to his cause, but very few people are aware of his motives at this point. He is able to quickly and effectively establish himself as a regular part of the social setting, winning the devotion of the governor's wife by playing the fool.

Shatov: is a former student who was expelled from school due to an unknown scandal. He was tutored by Stephan and from his childhood was greatly indebted to Varvara. A one time radical socialist, Shatov converts to a Russian idealist. He is married, but separated to the governess of his former merchant. Shatov is a member of the group, who tries to breakout, but fails. (See "Notes on Shatov and Kirillov" for more).

Kirillov: is an atheist who supports the revolutionary movement. He is kind and sincere, but has a twisted approach to life. He is willing to sacrifice his life for the group whenever they call upon him. (See "Notes on Shatov and Kirillov" for more).

Liputin: is a known liberal and has a reputation of an atheist. He thrives on the subject of gossip in the meetings held by Stephan, which was the major reason for his attendance. Liputin is also heavily involved within Peter's organization.

Virginsky: is a self-taught, well educated man. He is a liberal of pure heart, but according to Stephan simply jumped on the liberal bandwagon. He also is a member of the group.

Lebyadkin: is a stranger to the town, but won the heart of Virginsky's wife and quickly moved into their house. His intelligence is questionable and his convictions even more so. He is a drunkard who beats his sister and has a poor reputation within the community.

Fedka: was once a serf belonging to Peter. He is willing to murder for money and the group uses his services.

Darya(Dasha): is Shatov's sister, is treated by Varvara as her own daughter. Dasha is altruistic and possesses a gentle nature. Her character is comparable to that of Sonya in Crime and Punishment in that she is meager and timid, but very pure in heart.

Liza Tushina: is the daughter of the Drozdovs and a relative of the governor's wife. Liza has many connections, great wealth, and is extremely beautiful. Liza was a student of Stephan as a young girl. She had a relationship with Stavrogin, which she was never able to recover from.

Marya Timofeyevna: is a cripple who is married to Stavrogin and the sister of Lebyadkin. She is abused and mentally unstable.

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