Scene 13: New Christ

First in the street and then at Varvara’s. Stavrogin and Peter.

Peter (running after Stavrogin): Why did you leave?

Stavrogin: I had had enough. And your comedy with Shatov nauseated me. But I’ll not let you get away with it.

Peter: He put the finger on himself.

Stavrogin: You are a liar. You need Shatov’s blood. He is to serve you to cement your group together. You just succeeded very cleverly in getting him to leave. You knew that he would refuse to say “I shall not denounce the group.”

Peter: All right, all right! But you shouldn’t have left. I need you.

Stavrogin: I suspect as much, since you want to push me into having my wife slaughtered. But why? How can I be useful to you?

Peter: How? Why, in every way…. Besides you spoke the truth. Be on my side and I shall get rid of your wife for you. (Peter grasps Stavrogin by the arm. Stavrogin tears himself away, seizes him by the hair, and flings him to the ground.) Oh, you are strong! Stavrogin, do what I ask of you and tomorrow I shall bring you Lisa. Will you? Listen, I’ll let you keep Shatov too if you ask me to.

Stavrogin: So it’s true that you have made up your mind to kill him?

Peter: How can that matter to you? Wasn’t he mean to you?

Stavrogin: Shatov is good. You are mean.

Peter: I am. But I didn’t slap you.

Stavrogin: If you raised a hand against me, I’d kill you on the spot. You know very well that I can kill.

Peter: I know it. But you won’t kill me because you despise me. Listen… Ten more groups like this one and we’ll be powerful.

Stavrogin: Ten groups of idiots like these!

Peter: They are not so stupid; they’re just idealists. Fortunately, I am not an idealist. But I am not intelligent either. What?

Stavrogin: I didn’t say anything.

Peter: Too bad. I hoped you would say -- “Why, yes, you are intelligent.”

Peter: You are right; I am stupid. That’s why I need you. My organization does not have a head.

Stavrogin: You have Shigalov.

Peter: Don’t make fun of him. Absolute leveling is an excellent idea - not at all ridiculous. Its one of the elements of my plan. We shall have to organize it carefully. People will be forced to spy on one another and to denounce one another. That way there’ll be no more selfishness! From time to time a few convulsions, carefully controlled, just enough to overcome boredom. Hence total obedience, absolute depersonalization, and every thirty years we shall authorize convulsions, and then everyone will fall on one another and devour one another.

Stavrogin: Decidedly you are drunk. Get out.

Peter: Stavrgoin, you are handsome. Are you aware that you are handsome, and strong, and intelligent? No, you don’t know it, for you are also unsophisticated. I do know it, and that’s why you are my idol. I am a nihilist, and nihilists need idols. You are the man we need. You never insult anyone and yet everyone hates you. You treat people as your equals and yet they are afraid of you. But you are afraid of nothing; you can sacrifice your own life as easily as anyone else’s. That is excellent. Yes, you are the man I need, and I can’t think of any other. You are the leader, you are the sun. (He suddenly seizes Stavrogin’s hand and kisses it.) Don’t despise me. Shigalov has found the system, but I alone have discovered the way of putting it into practice. I need you. Without you I am nothing. When we hold power in our hands, we shall be able perhaps to make people more virtuous, if you really insist. But for the moment, to be sure, we need one or two thoroughly immoral generations; we need an exceptional, revolting corruption that will transform man into a filthy, cowardly, and selfish insect. That’s what we need. And, on the side, we’ll give them a touch of fresh blood so that they’ll get a taste for it.

Stavrogin: I always knew you weren’t a socialist. You’re a scoundrel.

Peter: All right, all right. A scoundrel. But let me explain my plan. We begin the general upheaval. Fires, crimes, incessant strikes, everything a mockery. Oh, it will be wonderful! The earth will bewail its former gods. And then…

Stavrogin: And then…

Peter: We shall bring forth the new Christ.

Stavrogin: I see. An impostor.

Peter: Yes. We’ll say that he is hiding but that he is about to appear. He exists, but no one has seen him. Just imagine the force of that idea - “He is hiding”! He can be shown perhaps to one out of hundred thousand. And the rumor will spread over the whole country. “He has been seen.” Will you accept?

Stavrogin: Accept what?

Peter: Why, being the new Christ.

Stavrogin: Ah! So that’s your plan!

Peter: Yes. Just listen. With you it will be possible to build up a legend. You will have only to appear and you will be triumphant. At first, “he is hiding, he is hiding,” and we shall pronounce in your name two or three judgments of Solomon. If one request out of ten thousand is satisfied, all will turn to you. Oh, Stavrogin, don’t leave me alone. Without you I am like Columbus without America. Can you imagine Columbus without America?

Stavrogin: And afterward, of course, you will have a hold on me….

Peter: What does that matter? You will have a hold on Lisa. She is young and pure…

Stavrogin: She is pure…. (He leaves.)

Peter: Stavrogin - a simple yes - and Lisa is yours, and the world is ours (Goes after him).