‘Wickedness’ and The Brothers Karamazov

Dostoevsky 1

Fyodor Dostoevsky

As you can tell from the excerpts below Dostoevsky makes his villains extraordinarily powerful. He makes those characters as strong, attractive and intelligent as he possibly can. Today’s book quote comes from a conversation between one of the most vile literary characters father Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov and his youngest son, the dutiful Alexei Fyodorovich (a.k.a Alyosha). To lay the groundwork for the conversation which ensues I’ll shed a little light on the major characters in The Brothers Karamazov.

The father Fyodor is a 55 year old ‘sponger’ who takes little interest in his sons – The Brothers Karamazov. His relationship with his eldest son Dmitri (a.k.a Mitya) is the most volatile, hardly surprising as they are both so much alike. They are considered ‘sensualists’; spending large amounts of money on nights filled with champagne, women, and whatever entertainment and stimulation money can buy.  Dmitri is brought into contact with his family when he finds himself in need of his inheritance, which he believes is being withheld by his father. They end up in a love triangle as they chase the same woman Grushenka who Dmitri has recently fell in love with. Dmitri hides near his father’s home to see if Grushenka will arrive and later he bursts in and assaults him while threatening to come back and kill him in the future.

The hero of the book (which Dostoevsky himself as narrator enunciates from the get-go in surprising candor) is the youngest son Alyosha who is a novice in the local Russian Orthodox monastery. He is a person of great character despite being naive and not having a formidable intellect. His full brother Ivan who is a staunch atheist is constantly attacking Alyosha trying to knock him off his perch of faith and Alyosha can’t address a single one of Ivan’s criticisms because Ivan has a devastating intellect and in some sense its devastating to Alyosha as well. But Alyosha’s faith and commitment to being good supersedes his inability to win the arguments because the arguments aren’t exactly the point. To Alyosha is it is not what you believe as if its a set of facts, but how you conduct yourself in the world.

Alyosha has just arrived at his father’s house the morning after the assault by Dmitri:

Karamazov pg 173 Setting 1Karamazov pg 173 Setting 2

Soon thereafter Fyodor”s personality is explored in the conversation between him and Alyosha (Alexei Fyodorovich). For your information Fyodor refers to Dimitri as Mitya:

Karamazov pg 173 Pt1Karamazov pg 173 Pt 2

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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Posted in Reading
4 comments on “‘Wickedness’ and The Brothers Karamazov
  1. Chocoviv says:

    What a group of villains!

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Matthew Kick

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