Dostoyevsky’s last novel was “The Brothers Karamazov”, it was written over a period of a year and was released/published in sequels in “The Russian Messenger”. This philosophical novel was considered to be the greatest piece of literature of the 19th and 20th century. The novel unites philosophical observation on topics such as morality, free will, Christianity and the lack of faith in modern Russia.
The true ideals of the novel are hard to determine due to its complex structure and judgments about different themes. It doesn’t have a strong stand point across the board and the Dostiyevsky’s morals change with themes. For example, some considered Dostoyevsky a big Christian thinker who glorified Christianity with this novel while others declared him to be an atheist and an opponent of Christ’s learning. It appears as if Dostoyevsky used this novel to go beyond the limits of literature and step into prophetic predictions about the faith of humanity which is short of doomed. The novel is written as an elaboration of a thesis and its antithesis in which both of the stances are so strongly argument that neither of them can be perceived as the correct one. He shows two contradictory philosophies in the same way and manner and there are two characters through which he interprets them – Ivan and Zosima Karamazov; it is not clear who Dostoyevsky side’s with and/or who best depicts his standpoint. Both characters have an equal amount of positive and negative attributes, making them both of them equally trustworthy characters.
Ivan Karamazov represents the atheistic philosophy, according to him, Christ has overestimated the human kind in its ability to be free. He is against the Christian thesis that humanity must get closer to Christ through suffering because he perceived it to be unnatural for a human being. He calls on God for not eliminating the human suffering and being prone to wanting to leave things as they are. He also believes that if the path to God, which leads to eternal freedom, is paved with pain and suffering that the God is evil and that people should look for other ways to achieve happiness, especially considering that the pursuit of happiness is a natural part of human existence. This is the basis of Ivan’s opinion – man doesn’t need Good or faith to carry out his life’s meaning and achieve happiness.
On the other hand, Dostoyevsky presents a quite opposite idea through Zosima. He believes that the people’s future should be based on their trust in God and Christ’s learning. He considers suffering to be purification from sins. He considers that happiness emerges from humility and renunciation of the material. His thesis is actualized in the novel in the moment in which he states his belief that the body of a dead saint doesn’t smell, which turns out to be false and makes him doubt his beliefs.
There is an almost in between/neutral character between these two in to form of Dmitri Karamazov and many interpret him as the ideal and most pure man. He wasn’t bad or evil but he was weak and unsophisticated, capable of doing good and bad, however certain occurrences in his life expose him to the dark and evil side of humanity, which Dmitri simply can not fight as he is presented to be “weak”. Ivan’s stance on people and life are somewhat justified by the actions of Dmitri as he is convinced that humans are in essence weak and vicious. This view is gloomy and not entirely correct, because if it was, and if people were the way Ivan saw them, humanity would never prosper.
This novel contains 12 books and epilogs which are made out of four plots which will be presented to you in the follow-up.
Time: 19th century
Book I – The History of a Family
Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov had two wives during his lifetime, the first one was the powerful Adelaida who came from a wealthy and influential family. She gave him a son Dmitri, at this point he suggested they leave her parents’ home so that he could focus on his career. She agreed, however and soon after the lack of love between them became more obvious with them fighting and arguing more and more until one day she leaves Fyodor and runs away with a local teacher, leaving the son behind to be raised by his father. Her departure made Fyodor miserable, which he often shares with everyone, telling them the intricacies of his marital troubles and eventual breakdown.
Fyodor was left alone with his son, showing little care for the boy, the child was often neglected. The first person to look after and show any attention to the child was a servant, followed by Adelaida’s cousin who adored Dmitri as if he were her child. Fyodor considered himself a busy man and gave Dmitri to his aunt, who looked after him until her death at which point her daughter became his guardian. Dmitri didn’t go to school and ended up in the military academy. He met his father for the first time (since early childhood) when he was about 18, Fyodor though his son was plain and inconsistent.
Fyodor got married for the second time to 16 years old Sofia Ivanovna. She was an orphan but she had a good life as she was taken in by a kind and well standing woman. Sofia gave Fyodor two sons; Ivan and Alexei. Fyodor, again considering his own needs, proposes that she leaves her family home so that he can focus on his carer. The did this and soon after, Sofia takes her own life as she Fyodor was both emotionally and physically abusive towards her and was a heavy drinker. Like their Dmitri, Ivan and Alexei were neglected by their father, who disappeared after Sofia’s suicide, and the children were raised by a servant. Once they were visited by the woman who took in their mother when she was young, once the woman saw the poor conditions that the boys were living in, she took them in, looking after them until her death. The woman was wealthy, and post her death Ivan and Alexei inherited a small fortune.
Ivan grew was very bright, he finished high school and continued to study. He took care of himself and never even thought about reaching out to his father. After graduating, Ivan went to visit his father in hope to mend and better their relationship. Alexei on the other had was considered to be a ‘a people’s person’, he hated no one and trusted everyone endlessly. Despite being good at school, he never finished high school. When he was 20 he decided to look for his father because Alexei wanted his father to tell him where his mother was buried, Fyodor didn’t know where Sofia was buried but directed Alexei to a servant knew the burial spot. Alexei told his father he wanted to go to the monastery, his father told him that his wish will pass with time.
The monastery in which Alexei studied was a good one and many people went there, mostly because of Father Zosima. The faithful loved him, asked him for advice, forgiveness and talked to him about their everyday problems. The people loved and respected him a lot as a spiritual leader and Alexei felt the same towards father Zosima. He was fortunate enough to share the room with Zosima, giving him a lot of time to talk to the father about philosophic-religious ideas, which both Alexei and Zosima enjoyed. The old man loved Alexei a lot and his, but Alexei’s encounter with his brothers stirred up a lot of emotions. Alexei was able to get close to Dmitri but not to Ivan.
Book II – An unfortunate gathering
There was a meeting being arranged between Fyodor and his brother due to property dispute between the brothers. Zosima was supposed to be the mediator during the meeting and help them come to resolution. Alexei wasn’t very pleased about the meeting, Dmitri was late and Fyodor and his brother appear to be making some kind of bad plot. Zosima came to the meeting accompanied by Alexei. Fyodor’s brother was irritated by his and his behaved in a loud and arrogant manner, as if to entertain everyone around him, while in actual fact, he looked more like a fool. Alexei felt embarrassed about this behavior from his relative and apologized to Zosima. Seeing this, Fyodor dramatically fell down to his knees and asks the father how is he supposed to achieve eternal life. Zosima answered him by saying that he shouldn’t lie in his lifetime, Fyodor stood up and continued to carry on with the earlier demonstrated poor behavior. The old man excuses himself and leaves the room.
In the meantime people, including women, came to the monastery to talk to Zosima because they needed advice. Many considered him to be a saint and came to ask for forgiveness and blessings, Zosima came out blessed the women. Amongst the women was a woman which said all her children died, another confessed that she had killed an old man and the third said that she is there to give him money so that he can distribute to people most in need of it. There was also a noblewoman which came with her daughter in a wheelchair. She came to say thanks to Zosima for helping her daughter get over her night fevers, adding that even her legs were becoming stronger. The girl looked at Alexei and teased him so much that he blushed hid behind Zosima’s back. The girl kept making jokes and said that they are friends from long ago when he used to visit family.
Dmitri came to the meeting also. He was dressed in a luxurious manner and apologized for coming late. They started talking about the issue which appears to be that Fyodor refuses to give his brother money. Alexei took Zosima to his room when Rakitin came and predicted blood will be shed between a brother and a son because the viciousness in the family. He also told Alexei that a woman was looking for him to take off his mantle. The situation between the brothers started to come to an end. Ivan set his sights on Dmitri’s fiancee Katerina Ivanovna, who he knew was rich and he thought that he could get a good dowry from her family. Dmitri let him take Katerina as he was in love with Grushenka, he however didn’t know that his father was also in love with her. This situation soon comes to a boiling point as Grushenka couldn’t make up her mind whom she wanted to be with. Dmitri had no money but he was young and was ready for marriage, unlike his father who had money but since he was old he was unable to get a dowry for Grushenka.
They went to get something to eat and they thought Fyodor wasn’t coming because of his fight with his son and all of the things he said to him. Just when everyone sat down to eat he appeared. Everyone started feeling as if something bad will happen. Fyodor sat down with them and kept on with his foolish behavior. He insulted everyone and told Alexei he will drag him out of the monastery the first chance he gets. Everyone tried to calm him down but he only got more furious. Fyodor, turned his anger towards the church, calling the clergy thieves adding that they won’t get any money out of his pocket. He told them they turned his wife against him, Alexei got so angry with this that he ordered him to take his things and leave. Alexei was stunned by his father’s behavior and as he was leaving, Fyodor again says that he will drag Alexei out of the monastery. Dmitri and Ivan left with Fyodor.
Book III – The Sensualist
Grigory was Fyodor’s servant who lived with his wife Marfa. He was the servant who took care of Fyodor’s children and he had a big influence on Fyodor. Grigory was honest and he stood strong on his words and beliefs. He hated Fyodor’s first wife but he cared a lot for the second wife. Marfa was smarter than her husband but she was never outspoken and bowed down to her husband. They didn’t have any children, their only child died two weeks after birth. The child was born with six fingers so Grigory thought it was nature’s fault, an abomination. He didn’t even want to baptize the child.
Lizaveta was an orphan and the whole city took care of her. They would give her some money and she would give it to the church. Lizaveta only ate bread, didn’t talk and wore the same shirt all the time. One night, while Lizaveta was sleeping, she was spotted by a group of drunk men. They started making jokes about her not being a woman and Fyodor said she most certainly is a woman. All of them left, except for Fyodor. Despite claiming he left the crowd, Lizaveta ended pregnant and there was speculation that the child was Fyodor’s. During her pregnancy Lizaveta was looked after some of the local saleswoman, her child was delivered by Marfa and Grigory after hearing her screams. Lizaveta died during child birth but her child lived. Marfa and Grigory took him in and named him Pavel. Fyodor didn’t care much about the child and he gave him the last name Smerdyakov and hired him as a cook.
Alexei was upset about his father wanting to take him out of the monastery because he knew they will let him in if he comes back. Katerina Ivanovna sent him (Alexei) a letter asking him to come but then he encountered Dmitri who had something to tell him. Dmitri advised him to go and see their father before going to Katerina. Dmitri added how he met two beautiful daughters of the colonel. One of them was Katerina Ivanovna and he liked her but didn’t make a move, he added that the Colonel will be replaced because his superiors weren’t satisfied with his work. He continued to say that he met the other who told him she had no money. Dmitri offered to lend her some only if Katerina came to pick it up. She called him a lowlife, but she still sent Katerina to get the money. While she was standing (scared) at his front door, Dmitri noticed how beautiful she was. He told her that he was only joking and that he doesn’t have a lot of money but he still gave her some. Katerina fell at his feet out of gratitude and then went running without a word.
A few days after Katerina gave him back the money in an envelope without saying a word. Soon she sent him another letter offering to be his fiancee. Dmitri liked the idea since she belonged to a good family so he sent Ivan to make the arrangements but when Ivan saw Katerina, he fell in love. Dmitri would gladly let him have his fiancee since he was in love with Grushenka and wanted to marry her. Dmitri came to ask Alexei to go to Katerina and tell her that he won’t be stopping by or marrying her because he wanted Grushenka. Some time back, Dmitri took money from Katerina to deliver to another person, instead, he drank it all with Grushenka. When he was supposed to deliver the money, he didn’t have any, so he asked his father to help, convinced that he would not. However and surprisingly Fyodor decided to give the money and requested that Grushenka come in person to collect it. Dmitri was scared about Grushenka seeing Fyodor and staying with him as he had previously threatened to kill them both.
Alexei came to his father’s house right after lunch both Ivan and Pavel were also there. Fyodor was drinking (a lot) and they talked about philosophy. Fyodor talked about women and how he loved them all but continued to insulted Alexei’s mother (trying to get at Alexei), despite knowing that she was also Ivan’s mother. All of a sudden, Dmitri runs into the room, Fyodor runs out of the room convinced that Dmitri was about to kill him. Grigory and Pavel caught Dmitri and he was furiously asking to see Grushenka. Fyodor ran scared from his son. Ivan calmed his brother down and Fyodor asked Alexei to go and get Grushenka and push her to make a decision and pick one of them.
Alexei first went to Katerina and told her Dmitri will not be coming to her house anymore. She went crazy and called Grushenka to come. When the two of them met, Katerina saw Grushenka’s beauty and understood why Dmitri chose her. The two of them became friends and they made a deal that Grushenka would convince Dmitri that Katerina was the woman for him. Grushenka again changed her mind and the two women again started to argue. Katerina realized Grushenka tricked her and she kicked her out of the house and asked Alexei if he could leave too because she was embarrassed.
Alexei met Dmitri on his way back to the monastery and he told him what had happened at Katerina’s house. Dmitri started laughing and Alexei thought he was laughing at Katerina’s humiliation. Dmitri told him there was one more thing he had to confess, another sin, he planned on doing something and could not longer not tell anyone. Alexei was confused and went back to the monastery where Zosim was on the verge of death. Everyone saw and prayed around him. Alexei felt a little letter in his pocket. It was put there by Katerina’s maid, the girl who made fun of him a few days earlier. She told him she loved him and that she wanted to marry him. The girl asked him to pay her a visit tomorrow but not to make eye contact because she was embarrassed.
Book IV – Lacerations
Zosim was saying his last words and wanted to say goodbye to everyone before he dies. Alexei went to see his father who told him that Ivan was supposed to keep an eye on Grushenka because it was his interest that she married Dmitri so that he could get Katerina. Fyodor spoke of Ivan as a vicious man, adding that he did not want to report his son for the attack on Grushenka.
Alexei went to see Madame Hohlakov, the mother of the girl that liked him, and on his way, he saw a group of boys throwing rocks at another boy. He felt sorry for him, and he told him the boys were doing it because they were mean. While he was defending the boy a stone hit him in the head. When he asked one of the boys why he had done it, the boy bit his finger and ran away. When the girl saw his bleeding finger she wanted to help him. The girl asked if he got her letter, Alexei said that he did and added that he would marry her as soon as he finished his studies and leaves the monastery. Alexei didn’t mind her being in a wheelchair but he told her he has to go back to the monastery for a little while longer. She got angry and told him he doesn’t have to come back at all.
Ivan and Katerina were there with Alexei, he finally realized that Ivan loved Katerina and Madame Hohlakov confirmed his suspicions. Katerina said she wasn’t ready to break off her engagement with Dmitri, despite his upcoming wedding with Grushenka. Once he gets tired of her she was sure Dmitri will come back to her. Ivan told her he had to go to Moscow which she was happy about. Alexei snapped and told her she doesn’t love Dmitri but Ivan and that she tortured him because she wanted his attention. Katerina says she never loved Ivan and that she kept him around just to get revenge for Dmitri’s behavior. Ivan was insulted, and Alexei felt bad about starting the unfortunate discussion.
Book V – Pro and Contra
Alexei went back to the girl and she apologized for her actions. She states she was very serious about what she had written in the letter and again asked him to marry her. The girl kissed his hand and he kissed her lips to what she responded they had enough time for everything. They declared their love for one another, as Alexei was leaving he encountered her mother. She told him to stop the nonsense because he can’t marry a girl in a wheelchair. She demanded to see her daughter’s letter, Alexei refused to give to her and ran out of the house.
Alexei saw Ivan and he told him that he was leaving for Moscow and expresses his sorrow about the two of them not having enough time to get to know each other better. Alexei was worried about the relationship between Fyodor and Dmitri. Ivan tells him that he never tried to take Katerina away from his brother but that he handed her to him. Ivan confessed his love for her and says he is sure she loves him back but that she was unaware of it. The two of them talked about religion and realised that their opinions are completely different. While Alexei believed in God and the Church, Ivan was an atheist who thought one must and can find happiness outside of Church and faith in Christ. Alexei was infuriated by his brothers views and Ivan was disappointed since he thought Alexei would love him no matter what. They part, leaving things in an uncomfortable state.
Ivan went to see his father, still furious about his fight with Alexei. There he met Pavel who sucks up to him, thinking that Ivan is smart, but in turn Ivan is disgusted by Pavel’s childish behavior. Pavel said Fyodor asked for Grushenka and when she will be coming and that he was scared Dmitri will kill him. He was so scared that he didn’t let anyone in and made everyone knock five times (like a password) before he let them in. Ivan said that those problems weren’t of his concern since he was leaving for Moscow. After spending the night in his father’s house, Ivan packed up his bags and said goodbye to his father. Fyodor begged Ivan to stay but he refused and left for Moscow. Grigory was ill and he had an epilepsy attack. While he was ill, Fyodor fell into a love fever and was convinced Grushenka will come to visit him that night.
Book VI – The Russian Monk
When Alexei came to visit Zosim, he saw that he was getting a little better. There was still a lot of people around Zosim thought, who advised Alexie to go and see his brother immediately because he has a feeling something bad will happen. He told everyone he was fond of Alexei because he reminded him of his brother who died in front of him, adding that this is the event made him become the man that he is today. Zosim felt he was going to die that night so he asks his followers to spread as much knowledge as they can across the world.
Now we find out some details about Zosim’s life which were allegedly written by Alexei.
Book VII – Alyosha (Alexei)
After Zosim’s death, his body was prepared for the funeral. People gathered in front of the monastery to pay their respect. Alexei cried for his friend, far away from everyone with his face turned to the fence. It seemed as if he was hiding his pain from everyone. Zosim’s body was placed in a small windowless room because everyone believed a saint’s body can’t start smelling bad as other bodies do. They thought God will preserve his body from decomposing. On the contrary to their opinion, the body started to smell bad. It surprised everyone and the news spread across the monastery and the village. Many came to the monastery just to make sure it was true because it was difficult to believe that it was, as it would bring belief in God and the church into question. The monks tried to calm down the infuriated people but things got worse when a priest showed up who was a known opponent of the late Zosim. He entered the room and started to bless the walls “chasing the Satan away”. He insulted the monks and told that they were teaching people stupidities and that his Lord won in the end. Laughing, he left. Alexei left the monastery without saying a word. He was completely devastated thinking these were the worse days of his life. He couldn’t stand that such a righteousness man, almost a saint, was exposed to such mockery first by the people and then by his opponent. While he was thinking about it, Alexei crossed paths with Rakitin and he invited him to come to a meal to Grushenka’s house.
Grushenka lived at the house of her sponsor’s cousin. She came from a wealthy, honorable family and she was beautiful, arrogant and proud. She knew how to manipulate her sponsor, a miser, who advised her to marry the old man only if he gives her the money and leaves her all of his property before the wedding. When Rakiting and Alexei reached the house she seemed to be stressed. She told them how she was scared of Dmitri and then she started to talk sweetly to Alexei. She even sat in his lap and declared her love. He completely forgot how badly she treated Katerina. Alexei told her that he saw her as a sister and he thanked her for snapping him back to reality.
Rakitin was jealous of their behavior, he made inappropriate comments to her. Grushenka told a story about her and a Polish officer she fell in love with adding that he had to leave because of his job but now he found her again. They had an agreement he will send a messenger to get her in time and that was the reason why she was so agitated. Grushenka told Alexei to tell Dmitri that she fell into the hands of a scoundrel, instead of his noble hands.
Alexei came back to the monastery, kneeled next to Zosim’s bed and prayed. During his prayer, he heard Zosim’s voice telling him they should be happy. Alexei woke up from his dream. Three days later he left the monastery.
Book VIII – Mitya (a.k.a Dmitri)
Dmitri’s jealousy drove him crazy because he thought Grushenka will pick his father. He wanted to get the money to pay back Katerina as soon as possible so that he could run away with Grushenka. He remembered Grushenka mentioning some Polish officer but since he was gone for a long time, Dmitri thought there was nothing to worry about. He was more worried about the other men Grushenka visited and seduced like she did him. He decided to ask her sponsor to loan him the money. He didn’t want to see him but Dmitri was so persistent that he didn’t leave him much choice. Dmitri tried to present him with a business plan and he offered him his estate in exchange for the money he needed. The problem was he didn’t work out his issues with his father about their property and the man told him he will not get involved in such an affair. Out of spitefulness, he sent him to an old man claiming he could help but knew very well that he would not.
Dmitri had to borrow money to get to the man, when he finally did, he couldn’t find him so he asked for help only to find the man dead drunk. It made Dmitri very nervous. He wanted to resolve everything and leave with Grushenka before she goes to Fyodor during his absence. People suggested that he should wait until morning for the man to get sober. In the morning the man told him he wasn’t going to buy any kind of property and that he doesn’t know who Fyodor was. Dmitri insulted him only to come to the conclusion that Grushenka’s sponsor was the one who played a joke on him. He was completely devastated and broke.
After reaching the city Dmitri went to Grushenka and she got rid of him by inviting him to chaperone her to her sponsor. They agreed to see each other around 12 at her house. Dmitri went to Pavel to find out what was happening during his absence. He asked if Grushenka came to see Fyodor but Pavel was ill and didn’t give him any kind of information. Later he went to see Madame Hohlakov to ask for a loan from her. She didn’t like Dmitri because of the way he acted towards Katerina. He made her the same offer he proposed to the man earlier. Hohlakov asked him if he would like to go to Siberia to work in a mine and Dmitri kept on changing the subject to the loan and it seemed as if she accepted. When he asked for the money she told him there was a mix up because she didn’t have that kind of money but that she could arrange for him to work in a mine. Dmitri went to look for Grushenka but she wasn’t nowhere to be seen and her maid didn’t want to say where Grushenka went.
Dmitri, convinced Grushenka was with his father, went to see him, when he saw that the lights on he was sure Grushenka was there. For a while, he was eavesdropping and realized Fyodor was alone in the room. He knocked 5 times on his window because it was Pavel and Fyodor’s password and Fyodor jumped out calling for Grushenka. The infuriated Dmitri jumped with the intention to kill him which he would have done if Grigory didn’t enter the room. Dmitri knocked him down and ran looking for Grushenka.
Grushenka’s maid was scared of Dmitri because he was infuriated and covered in blood so she told him everything that Grushenka was doing lately. Dmitri went to the pawn shop in which he left his guns to retrieve them. The man suggested he should wash before going anywhere. Dmitri said he was going to find Grushenka, with her maid begging him not to kill her. She went to the officer who was supposed to marry Grushenka, with Dmitri promising not to kill anyone.
As soon as he reached the village where Grushenka and the Polish officer were, Dmitri gathered a band. He bought food and drinks which he left in a tavern and then he entered the room where Grushenka and the other guests were. He started to babble, filled with emotions and completely incomprehensible. Grushenka tried to calm him down so everyone sat down to drink something. They started playing card and had fun. The Polish officer managed to trick Dmitri while they were playing. In the end, Dmitri was alone with the Polish officer and he offered him money just to leave and leave Grushenka alone. He was offended by Dmitri’s behavior and told everything to Grushenka speaking half Polish half Russian. She was angry because he had already forgotten Russian and she called Dmitri her lover. When she found out that the officer took the money Dmitri offered she went hysterical and started yelling how she spent five years crying for that lowlife. The Polish officer insulted her until Dmitri kicked them all out.
After that, they started drinking. Grushenka, a bit intoxicated, told Dmitri she was crazy for loving that officer and that he was the right man for her. Dmitri was excited and wanted to dance and sing. He confessed Grushenka that he stole money from Katerina but Grushenka didn’t care much. She was tired and he carried her to bed when officers entered and arrested him for Fyodor’s murder.
Book IX – The Preliminary Investigation
Dmitri yelled he wasn’t the one to blame for his father’s death but that he was the one to blame for Grigory’s death who was like a father to him. They calmed him down saying Grigory was alive and Grushenka said it was all her fault and that Fyodor was killed because of her. Dmitri was completely confused while they were interrogating him. He said his statements about killing his father were only empty threats. Everyone knew he didn’t love him because he owed him money. He hard Grushenka and wanted to go to her but they calmed him down. Dmitri wanted to tell him everything that had happened. They asked him about a door her didn’t even touch and he says that someone must have entered when he left. They thought he stole the money which was in the envelope meant for Grushenka. Dmitri connected the dots saying the only person who could have taken the money was Pavel. He knew about the money and he knew he had to knock five times to enter. No one believed him.
Dmitri was interrogated the whole night. He was exhausted, frustrated and started getting delirious. All of the witnesses were against him and they arrested him officially. Grushenka said goodbye to him saying she will fight for him because she belonged to him.
Book X – The Boys
One of the boys who threw a rock at Alexei was Kolya. He was fourteen now and he grew up with his mother. He was the leader in his company because he was eloquent, smart and brave. Kolya was proud and kind but his mother thought he was insensitive. He became a part of a company in which he was the youngest and he got the sympathy of others by staying on a railroad until the train passed him.
Kolya had a friend who was very ill, on the verge of death. He would come and visit him everyday and Alexei made the other boys do the same. Kolya loved Alexei and they talked a lot. Kolya said he didn’t want to come and visit his friend Ilyusha before because Ilyusha gave his dog a piece of bread with a nail in it once. Before that, he always defended his friend, even when others wanted to beat him up. They became friends but Kolya wanted nothing to do with him when he saw Ilyusha didn’t feel remorse about what he has done. Kolya felt bad about everything and he brought Ilyusha a dog saying it was his old dog. Ilyusha felt relieved because he thought his dog was dead. Lately, he felt bad about his dog.
Katerina financed Ilyusha’s family. The money Dmitri stole was meant for them. When Kolya came to see his friend he was a bit stunned after seeing him. He started talking all that had happened to him because his friend didn’t get out of bed for two weeks. Alexei was also there so Kolya started to change his story, make it different and he was telling a lot of lies just to impress Alexei since he admired him so much. The only thing Kolya managed was to present himself as rude and arrogant. Later, he talked to Alexei in front of the house and Kolya told him about his belief that there was no God, about the meaninglessness of medicine and about women being lower beings. He wanted to impress Alexei with his intelligence but once again he did quite the opposite. Alexei told him it was all stupidity and that he was too young for such opinions which will make him miserable when he grows up. The doctor was talking to Ilyosha’s father and he apologized for being unable to save his son. He said he was only a human and not God.
Book XI – Ivan
When Dmitri was arrested, Grushenka got ill and spent five weeks in bed. She changed, lost weight and her skin turned yellow. When Alexei visited her she said that she got into a fight with Dmitri because she was jealous of Katerina while Dmitri was jealous of the officer. Dmitri was also ill and they wanted to send a doctor to prove he’s insane and that his illness made him commit the crime. Katerina says Ivan was back and that he was visiting Dmitri regularly. She was scared they were making a plan for Dmitri to have Katerina again.
He went to Madame Hohlakov. She told him he must be disappointed because her daughter who made him a promise as a little girl and he took it all seriously. She was all grown up and she even started walking and wasn’t ready to marry him. Madame Hohlakov was stressed about the article on Dmitri she read in the newspaper where he stated that women offered him money to go with them to Siberia and how he turned them down. She felt called out because of the article which was written by Rakitin. She also said Ivan visited her daughter without her knowledge until her daughter demanded that he stop visiting her.
Alexei went to see her daughter who said that she was happy that she wanted to get married but not to be happy, but so that she could get out of the house as she was bored in it. She than changed her story telling Alexei that she loved him and that he was the only person she could tell everything to. She pushed him out of the room, giving him a letter and ordering him to send it or she will poison herself. The letter was intended for Ivan.
Alexei visited Dmitri in the dungeon. The day after Dmitri was going to trial and Alexei asked him if he minded working in the mines. Dimitri told him how Ivan advised him to escape to America with Grushenka. It appeared Ivan was the guilty one for Fyodor’s death, but Dmitri didn’t have the courage to ask him directly. Alexei said he never doubted Dmitri and it made him very happy. Alexei left the jail crying because he realized Dmitri never believed in him.
Alexei and Ivan saw each other in Katerina’s house. She was stressed because Pavel claimed not to have killed his father and Alexei didn’t believe her. Ivan wanted to go away and Katerina got hysterical telling Alexei to stop him because Ivan was ill and insane. Alexei went after him but Ivan said with a cold tone that it was all invented by Katerina and that he wasn’t crazy or ill. He gave him the girl’s letter and he tore it apart saying that the girl wasn’t even 16 and she was already offering herself to everyone. He also said Katerina was in doubt whether to testify in Dmitri’s favor or not. She hated him and loved Ivan. Ivan didn’t love her but wasn’t ready to leave her because he knew she would use Dmitri to get back at him. Ivan laughed out the theory about Pavel being the murder and than got into a fight with Alexei and said he did not want to have contact with him again.
Ivan went to Pavel and attacked him by saying he couldn’t have known when he will get an epilepsy attack. Pavel accused him of being the killer because he left his father when he needed him the most and gave him the opportunity to kill him. Ivan finally realized Pavel was the real killer and that Dmitri was innocent. He went to tell everything to Katerina including the accusation Pavel made against him.
Ivan went back to Pavel fearing for his life. Pavel told him all that had happened the night he killed Fyodor including the fat Grushenka was there. Ivan ordered him to confess everything but he declined to tell Ivan he will come off as a fool and no one will believe him since he had no evidence against him.
Ivan got ill. He started hallucinating because of the amount of alcohol he was drinking, he didn’t want to see a doctor at all. Ivan constantly saw a man in the suit approaching him, provoking him than painting only to realize it was all on his head. Alexei came and said Pavel hung himself. Ivan told him there was a man in his room provoking him, Alexei spent the night guarding him. He realized that with Pavel being dead no one will believe Dmitri didn’t kill his father.
Book XII – A Judicial Error
Many people came to Dmitri’s trial since they knew that it will all be very dramatic. They expected Katerina and Grushenka to be there and the famous plaintiff. Dmitri stated he was guilty of many things but his father’s death and the theft of his money weren’t amongst them. Grigory was the first to testify and then Rakitin. He couldn’t state with certainty that Dmitri didn’t kill his father. A doctor testified that there was something inside of Dmitri which he couldn’t fight in the night of the murder. Alexei testified in Dmitri’s favor and said Pavel killed Fyodor. Katerina said Dmitri was an honorable man and that she would have forgiven him his debt if she knew the situation he was in. Grushenka stated she was the one to blame for the feud between the father and the son and that she made them go crazy with her games. Grushenka also said that she was giving money to Rakitin because he extorted it out of her. It made Rakitin blush and feel embarrassed.
Ivan came healthy enough to testify. He said Pavel killed his father and that he encouraged him to do so. Alexei jumped saying Ivan was delirious because of the alcohol but the guards grabbed Ivan and took him out. Katerina got hysterical and took out a letter which stated Dmitri killed Fyodor. She was infuriated because Dmitri left her for Grushenka and she said he was marrying her because of the money and that Grushenka made him evil and how he killed because of her. The guards grabbed her and took her out.
One man testified about Fyodor being an awful father and how Dmitri was completely aware of everything during the murder. The plaintiff said there was no evidence Pavel was the killer, expect of the words of the ill Ivan, Alexei and Grushenka. He explained why Dmitri killed his father and that he wanted to commit suicide. The audience called the Karamazov the Russian Hamlets.
Dmitri’s lawyer denied everything including the existence of the money. He also disputed Fyodor’s death. In the end, Dmitri spoke and said he wasn’t guilty. He also held a touching speech and everyone thought he would be freed but the opposite happened. When he was declared guilty the only thing heard was Grushenka’s scream.
Katerina took care of Ivan. When Alexei came to visit them, she told him she went crazy at the thought of Ivan helping Dmitri escape from jail and to America with Grushenka. Ivan also went crazy jealous because she obviously had feelings for Dmitri. Katerina swore she loved Ivan and that she was sorry about making Dmitri’s case worse with the letter. Alexei told her Dmitri was in a hospital, delirious and that he wanted Katerina to come and visit him because she was the only person he wanted to say something to.
Dmitri had a nervous breakdown and ended up in the hospital. Alexei told him Katerina wanted to organize his escape and he said he wasn’t sure how Grushenka will react to it since she didn’t even like hearing Katerina’s name. He thought it would be best to go to Siberia and die of sadness and that he would miss Russia if he went to America. Katerina appeared and asked if he had forgiven her for the letter and he asks her the same thing. Both of them declared love for one another. Ivan and Grushenka came. Katerina asked her for forgiveness but she said nothing. Katerina told Grushenka not to worry because she will save Dmitri.
Two days after the trial was down Ilyusha died too. On the head of his ceremony was Kolya. After the funeral, Alexei advised the boys to keep the good memories in their mind because they will determine their life and make honest people out of them.
Characters: Dmitri, Ivan, Alexei, Fyodor, Katerina, Grushenka, Pavel, Rakitin, Grigory
Dmitri Fyodorovich Karamazov was Fyodor’s oldest son and everyone called him Mitya. He hated his father because he abandoned him as a child and deprived him of his inheritance. He was impulsive, drank a lot, lived luxuriously, stole, cheated on his women and especially those who loved him. First he fell in love with Katerina, her beauty and character. Later he caused Katerina a lot of sufferings because he didn’t want to marry her since he loved another beautiful girl named Grushenka.
He seems obsessed with Grushenka. She played with him as well as with all the men which made him crazy jealous, especially because one of those men was his father. His hatred for his father grew stronger than ever. He was even capable of killing him and he stated it loudly numerous times. In the end, he was accused of his father’s murder but he didn’t kill him. He was sentenced and Katerina, who he actually loved the whole time, was getting everything ready for his escape.
Ivan Fyodorovich Karamazov was the main representative of atheism as one of the ideas of the novel. He was a smart intellectual who stood between his father and brothers. He wanted Dmitri to pick Grushenka since he was in love with Katerina. He didn’t steal Katerina, Dmitri let him have her. When his brother was accused of murder, despite not believing his innocence, he was ready to help, so he took the blame just to save his brother. He left his father unprotected and Pavel thought it was his way of telling him to kill Fyodor instead of him. He became coldhearted but still had every intention of saving his brother. He got jealous every time he thought Katerina still had feelings for his brother.
Alexei Fyodorovich Karamazov was Fyodor’s youngest son. He was intelligent without ever finishing high school. He went to the monastery to get a spiritual education. There he lived with his mentor and he completely gave himself to God. Religion was one of his main definitions. He was never in a confrontation with anyone and he always tried to make peace between his brothers and father. His kindness made him a bit naïve but he genuinely tried to help everyone. After leaving the monastery he promised a girl in a wheelchair to marry her but she gave up on him and their marriage plans as soon as she could walk. Alexei is a completely moral character, the only Karamazov without a vice or intentional sins.
Fyodor Karamazov was a man who only thought of himself his whole life and he blames everyone for everything negative that happened in his life. He abandoned his sons when his wives died was reunited with his sons only as they came searching for him. He always fought with his sons, as if they were strangers to him. He got senile and acted as a fool in front of people thinking they loved him. He also insulted everyone and always tried to get things his way. He presented himself as a landowner but actually he embarrassed everyone with his behavior. Fyodor fell in love with the same girl his son and it made quite a feud between the two of them. Being obsessed with money, Fyodor was ready to do anything to have it. The money was the death of him as he was killed by his illegitimate son Pavel. He had him with a homeless woman whom he raped and who later gave birth to Pavel. He insulted and harassed Pavel his whole life. He even gave him the last name Smerdyakov, which was his mother’s nickname rather than accept his as his own.
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky Biography
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky (1821 – 1881) was a Russian novelist and side by side with Tolstoy, one of the best writers of Russian realism. He lived a hard life in poverty and had epilepsy. He faced a death sentence, Siberian jail and the death of dear members of his family.
He went to the military academy in January 1838, when he was 16, to please his father. He never liked it. He began writing in his 20s and completed his first novel, Poor Folk, in May 1845.
A big turn in his life was his participation in the utopian – socialist society for which he was sentenced to death in 1849, but then he was saved by going to Siberia where he spends 10 years.
In the beginning of his career he followed the footsteps of Gogol and he represented some advanced social point of views and after he served his sentence described in the work “Notes from Underground” in 1861, he judged the revolutionary actions (novel “Demons” from 1871- 1872) and fell deep into the world of mysticism, Eastern Orthodox Church and preached non-defiance of evil with force.
Dostoyevsky worked as a journalist. He began to travel around western Europe and developed a gambling addiction which led to financial hardship. For a time, he had to beg for money, but he eventually became one of the most widely read and highly regarded Russian writers.
His books have been translated into more than 170 languages. His main works are the novels: “Crime and Punishment”, “Poor Folk”, “Notes from Underground”, “The Idiot” and “The Brothers Karamazov”.
He died in January 1881 from a pulmonary hemorrhage.