A week has past since the meeting between Aglaya and the prince at the green bench. The narrator turns our attention to Varya, Ganya's sister, who has decided to take it upon herself to play matchmaker. She wants Ganya and Aglaya to get married. Coming back from the Yepanchin's house, however, she carries a look of disappointment. She reveals that she thinks the prince is the official fiancé. Ganya wonders if maybe he isn't a respectable suitor for Aglaya because of his father. He also thinks that the Yepanchins found out that his father, General Ivolgin, is a thief. There is some hope for Ganya, however: Varya gives him a letter from Aglaya, which expresses her desire to see him
General Ivolgin is indeed the person who stole the money from Lebedev. Lebedev solves the mystery dealing with the disappearance and reappearance of his money. But instead of taking the money that mysteriously reappears, to punish the general he ignores it. The general doesn't mention stealing the money nor putting it back, and watching Lebedev ignore the money that's plainly in site, he becomes very angered and upset. When the prince hears of this situation, he pleads with Lebedev to forgive the general. "Why are you tormenting him like that?" asked the Prince. "For pity's sake, the very fact that he put the wallet back under the chair in full view and into the coat, by that very fact he's plainly showing you that he doesn't want to deceive you and is genuinely asking your forgiveness. You hear: he's asking your forgiveness!"
Later, Myshkin meets with the general who reveals that he's going to move out of Lebedev's house. Then, the general, out of his habit of making up stories, tells Myshkin about the time he was a young boy and met Napoleon. He says that Napoleon respected him, this Russian boy, and his opinions. After the meeting with the prince, the general has a stroke.
At the Yepanchin's house, the prince asks for Aglaya's hand. Aglaya plays around with him and distorts his words. But this time, the family finds out for certain that Aglaya truly loves the prince. The family decides to accept the prince as Agalya's fiancé, and to legitimize the decision, they invite a group of high society people to their house in order to formally announce the engagement. They invite Princess Belonkonsky, and influential person from high society who is also Aglaya's godmother. Her approval of the prince is especially important.
Next is the party at the Yepanchin's house. The prince goes to the party feeling apprehensive: Aglaya has made him nervous, telling him not to act like an idiot or even say anything much. There, to his relief, he finds the company of aristocrats to be very appealing; he does not realize that this "appeal" is nothing more than a social mask. The prince gets into a discussion about Roman Catholicism with the guests present at the party.
This discussion is Dostoevsky's own criticism on Roman Catholicism, which is also a recurrent theme in his novels. Prince Myshkin says that Roman Catholicism teaches the worship of anti-Christ. He says the religion gives all the power to the human lord-a Pope. He also says that the Roman Catholic Church is simply an extension of the Roman Empire, established to preserve its doctrines. He lacerates the Jesuits too, and asserts that if Russia is to embrace Roman Catholicism, it will be Russia's downfall. It is also notable here that when Dostoevsky wanted to meet the Pope, he wasn't granted the permission, and therefore held a grudge all his life.
The prince then gives a speech about how noble and good this high society is, and how good all the people are. It is ironic that the prince sees these high society people as being good, when they hide who they truly are with a social mask. This kind and benevolent outlook Myshkin percieves in them is nothing but a farce. In truth, the high society is clinging to rotten threads that barely hold it together. The prince gets very excited through all this talk; so much so that he knocks over a great vase, then falls into an epileptic fit. In the eyes' of the Yepanchins, the prince has disgraced them.
The next day, General Ivolgin dies. The prince to some extent realizes his stupidity of the day before, but worse things are still to come. Aglaya takes him with her to see Nastasya. The meeting, instead of going smoothly as expected, (especially considering the tone in which Nastasya wrote her letters to Aglaya), becomes a quarrel. Myshkin is forced to say, on the spot, which he loves, Nastasya or Aglaya, and he pauses before answering. This pause is too much for Aglaya, who won't have the prince's love unless he can give it to her whole-heartedly. She runs away from the seen just as Nastasya faints. The prince, worried about Nastasya, stays with her. Aglaya gives up the prince. Nastasya gives up Rogozhin. The prince and Nastasya are together again.
After two weeks Nastasya proposes to marry the prince. When asked if he is happy about the marriage, the prince responds: "Happy? Oh no! I'm just getting married; she wants that; and what does it matter if I doIbut it's all of no consequence." Thus, it can be decided that the prince is sacrificing himself for Nastasya's sake. On the wedding day, Nastasya, on her way to the church, sees Rogozhin amongst the crowd. She cries out to him to save her, and the two run away.
Myshkin immediately sets out for Petersburg and goes to Rogozhin's house. The maid tells him that Rogozhin is not there, but Myshkin catches a glimpse of Rogozhin's eyes in the window. He goes to various people in hopes of finding Nastasya and Rogozhin, but to his surprise nobody has seen them. Rogozhin then finds Myshkin, saying, "Lev Nikolayevich, come this way, friend, I need you." They go to Rogozhin's house.
There, in a dark room, the prince discovers that Rogozhin has killed Nastasya, for he realized that he could never wholly have her. In retailing the murder, Rogozhin says: "And there's another strange thing: the knife only went in about three or four inchesjust under the left breastand there was only about a spoonful of blood came out on her chemise, no more than that." In other words, Rogozhin's knife went straight to Nastasya's heart. Rogozhin and the prince then move away from the bed where the corpse is, and Rogozhin slips into a howling fever. Every time Rogozhin howls, Myshkin wipes the sick mans forehead. When the police finally enter the scene, they find Myshkin sitting with Rogozhin, out of his mind, and nothing but an idiot.
In the end, the prince is sent back to Switzerland. He is an idiot again,
as he was before the events of the story started. The Yepanchins (except
Aglaya), Radomsky and Prince S visit him. They all forgive him. Rogozhin
is sentenced to fifteen years of hard labor in Siberia. Aglaya marries
a Polish. The good Christian, our Prince Myshkin, has been reduced back
to an idiot