The Brothers Karamazov

Hello, welcome to our own little blog about The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky! We hope you enjoy our rants and ravings. =)

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Why hello! After reading The Brothers Karamazov, we all realized that there are a few interesting things that can be done with the book. Would you like to see our results? Of course you would!

Slamma Jamma!

DRUNK HORSEBACK RIDING

Nothin' like fresh BK in the morning!

OMG AFTER ALL THESE YEARS!

It's offical, Brothers K cures constipation!

The turtle is right!

Thanks Mr. S, look at me now!
~*Brothers K. VS Crime and Punishment*~
These are just a few comparissons that I made between the two books

  • Both novels have a common theme - Money
  • The crime is not really the focal point of the novel (although it it very interesting)

  • The crime committed during Crime and Punishment occurred at the beginning of the novel where as in The Brothers K. it occurred at the end.
  • Crime and Punishment is more focused on the individual whereas in BK the focus is on a group of people.
For those of you who wish to know the location of this blog...it is at


http://brothersk.blogspot.com!


We hope you enjoy/are enjoying/enjoyed our prsentation!

Thank you and please visit our site to comment.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Please respond to following question after reading the selected passage from The Brothers Karamazov.

Conversations and Exhortations of Father Zosima

Chapter 3

The monastic way is very different. Obedience, fasting and prayer are laughed at, yet only through them lies the way to real, true freedom. I cut off my superfluous and unnecessary desires, I subdue my proud and wanton will and chastise it with obedience, and with God’s help I attain freedom of spirit and with it spiritual joy. Who is more capable of conceiving a great idea and serving it – the rich man in his isolation or the man who has freed himself from the tyranny of material things and habits? The monk is reproached for his solitude, “You have secluded yourself within the walls of the monastery for your own salvation, and have forgotten the brotherly service of humanity!” But we shall see which will be most zealous in the cause of brotherly love. For it is not we, but they, who are in isolation, though they don’t see that. Of old, leaders of the people came from among us, and why should they not again? The same meek and humble ascetics will rise up and go out to work for the great cause. The salvation of Russia comes from the people. And the Russian monk has always been on the side of the people. We are isolated only if the people are isolated. The people believe as we do, and unbelieving reformer will never do anything in Russia, even if he is sincere in heart and a genius. Remember that! The people will meet the atheist and overcome him, and Russia will be one and the orthodox. Take care of the people and guard their hearts. Go on educating them quietly. That’s your duty as monks, for this is a godbearing people.


Essay Question

What is isolation? Can a man who possesses everything actually have nothing when compared to a monk who left material possessions be hind? If so, then how could it be? Is mental happiness and peace worth more than material possession? Father Zosima believes that Russia’s fate lies within its people. Would you agree that people make a difference? If they do then should there be someone, like a monk, to quietly teach to them? Do you agree or disagree with Father Zosima’s opinion of a monk and a monk’s duty? Father Zosima goes further in saying that he does not fear the people becoming atheist? Is this an opinion that you agree with? Should there be reason for Father Zosima to fear atheism?
The Brothers Karamazov Multiple Choice Test


Read the following passage from Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, and answer the questions that follow.

“By the way, a Bulgarian I recently met in Moscow,” Ivan Fyodorovich went on, as if he were not listening to his brother, “told me how the Turks and Circassians there, in Bulgaria, have been committing atrocities everywhere, fearing a general uprising of the Slovs---they burn, kill, rape women and children, they nail prisoners by the ears to the fences and leave them there like that until the morning, and in the morning they hang them---and so on, it’s impossible to imagine it all. Indeed, people speak sometimes about the ‘animal’ cruelty of man, but that is terribly unjust and offensive to animals, no animal could ever be so cruel as a man, so artfully, artistically cruel. A tiger simply gnaws and tears, that is all he can do. It would never occur to him to nail people by their ears overnight, even if he were able to do it. These Turks, among other things, have also taken delight in torturing children, starting with cutting them out of their mothers’ wombs with a dagger, and ending with tossing nursing infants up in the air and catching them on their bayonets before their mother’s eyes. But here is a picture that I found very interesting. Imagine a nursing infant in the arms of its trembling mother, surrounded by Turks. They’ve thought up an amusing trick: they fondle the baby. They laugh to make it laugh, and they succeed---the baby laughs. At that moment a Turk aims a pistol at it, four inches from its face. The baby laughs gleefully, reaches out its little hands to grab the pistol, and suddenly the artist pulls the trigger right in its face and shatters its little head…Artistic, isn’t it? By the way, they say the Turks are very fond of sweets.”

1) What is the topic of the preceding passage?

A) The art of war between the Turks and Circassians.
B) Methods by which the Turks (and Circassians) torture children and their mothers.
C) Why the Turks enjoy sweets.
D) The improbability of an animal torturing a man.
E) A Bulgarian in Moscow.

2) How would you describe the preceding passage?

A) It is an anecdote.
B) It is an extended metaphor.
C) It is a biography.
D) It is an auto-biography.
E) It is an essay.

3) As the speaker brings up animals, he assumes that certain thoughts present in individuals:

A) Occur consistently in animals.
B) Occur randomly in animals.
C) Cannot be personified.
D) Are better than those in animals.
E) Are much too over the top.

4) The world “artistically” in line 8 is an example of a:

A) Adjective.
B) Noun.
C) Gerund Phrase.
D) Past Participle.
E) Adverb.

5) The lines dealing with the torturing of children towards the end of the passage might have what effect on readers?

A) They will be happy.
B) They will be upset.
C) They will not care.
D) They will be angry.
E) B and D.

6) In the last line (19), how does the speaker end his statement?

A) He shies away from the topic at hand, producing a strange effect on the reader.
B) He stays perfectly on topic, providing essential information about the Turks.
C) He concludes by referring to his opening statement.
D) He believes that he is being funny.
E) None of the above.

7) When the speaker states, “Artistic, isn’t it?” (Lines 18-19) he is most likely being:

A) Serious.
B) Indifferent.
C) Sarcastic.
D) Sincere.
E) Obvious.

8) How do the Turks torture the children and their mothers?

A) They toss them into the air and catch them on their bayonets.
B) They feed them to crocodiles.
C) They fondle them and then shoot them.
D) A and C.
E) B and C.

9) A “dagger” (line 12) is what kind of weapon?

A) A knife or sword.
B) A gun.
C) A mace.
D) A missile.
E) A net.

10) In line 13, is “mother’s” grammatically correct?

A) Yes, it shows that the mother is in possession of the “eyes.”
B) No, because the mothers are considered a group, not a single person.
C) Yes, all possessive forms end in “apostrophe s.”
D) No, because at another point in the passage, it is spelled differently.
E) Yes, because there is actually only one mother being spoken of.

11) Which line is a form of generalization or assumption?

A) “They’ve thought up an amusing trick…”
B) “But here is a picture that I found very interesting.”
C) “…they burn, kill, rape women and children…”
D) “These Turks, among other things, have also taken a delight…”
E) “A tiger simply gnaws and tears, that is all he can do.”

12) After concluding this passage, what might the reader think The Brothers Karamazov revolves around?

A) Philosophy.
B) Candies and sweets.
C) Animal discussion.
D) Torture.
E) The Turks.

A.P. Essay Test

“This poor child of five was subjected to every possible torture by those cultivated parents. They beat her, thrashed her, kicked her for no reason till her body was one bruise. Then, they went to greater refinements of cruelty—shut her up all night in the cold and frost in a privy, and because she didn’t ask to be taken up at night (as though a child of five sleeping in angelic, sound sleep could be trained to wake and ask), they smeared her face and filled her mouth with excrement, and it was her mother, her mother did this. And that mother could sleep, hearing the poor child’s groans! Can you understand why a little creature, who cant even understand what’s done to her, should beat her meek unresentful tears to dear, kind God to protect her? Do you understand that, friend and brother, you pious and humble novice? Do you understand why this infamy must be and is permitted? Without it, I am told, man could not have existed on earth, for he could not have known good and evil. Why should he know that diabolical good and evil when it costs so much? Why, the whole world of knowledge is not worth that child’s prayer to ‘dear, kind God’! I say nothing of the sufferings of grown-up people, they have eaten the apple, damn them, and the devil take them all! But these little ones! I am making you suffer, Alyosha, you are not yourself. I’ll leave off if you like.”


This is Ivan speaking to Alyosha about his ever tumultuous feelings towards God. What is he saying in this passage about the suffering of children and adults, and is it the same?

Monday, December 06, 2004

The 50 Million Russians and 1 Polish Guy in Brother’s K

Powerpoint Here!


Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov- Father of sons Dmitri, Ivan, Alyosha and the suspected father of Smerdyakov. Fyodor has been married twice but forgot about his wives and children because he was too busy seducing young women and getting drunk. He is a wealthy man who is hated by almost everyone in the town. He is in love with the same woman his son is, Grushenka. Eventually he is murdered by his illegitimate son Smerdyakov.

Dmitri Fyodorovich Karamazov (Mityka, Mitya, Mitenka, Mitri Fyodorovich) - The oldest son of Fyodor, only son of Adelaida. He is raised by Grigory and taken away by his mother’s cousin Pyotr Miusov who gives him a great education but Mitya becomes bored and later joins the military. For the first half of the novel he is engaged to Katerina Ivanova with whom he is estranged from. Dmitri, along with his father is in love with Grushenka with whom he is later engaged to. Dmitri is a sort of angry, yet passionate person who always seems to be spending or needing money. He injures Grigory and is the prime suspect in his father’s murder.

Ivan Fyodorovich Karamazov - (Vanya, Vanka, Vanechka) - The second son of Fyodor, his first with Sofya. He is very intelligent and religiously confused. Ivan thinks that people are generally evil, that God is cruel, and that everything has a logical reason for happening. Ivan is in love with Dmitri’s first fiancé Katerina but supports her decision to want to stay with Dmitri. Ivan goes crazy after his father is murdered because of his thoughts about God and people.

Alexei Fyodorovich Karamazov (Alyosha, Alyoshka, Alyoshenka, Alyoshechka, Alxeichick, Lyosha, Lyoshenka) - The third forgotten son of Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov, younger son of Fyodor’s second wife Sofya. Alyosha is studying to be a monk under the teaching of his elder Zosima. Alyosha is kind and caring person who holds a positive view of humans. Alyosha has a hard to describe relationship with Lise, the girl in the wheelchair.

Adelaida—Fyodor’s first wife and the mother of Dmitri.

Sofya—Fyodor’s second wife and the mother of Ivan and Alyosha.

Pavel Fyodorovich Smerdyakov – the illegitimate son of Fyodor and Lizaveta. He is cursed with epilepsy and has fits throughout the novel. He becomes the adopted son of Grigory and Marfa and one of Fyodor’s servants. He likes to have philosophical convos with Ivan. Smerdyakov kills his father Fyodor after having discussions with Ivan about morality. He resents his place in life and is the sneaky, strange guy in the novel.

Agrafena Alexandrovna Svetlov (Grushenka, Grusha, Grushka)- Grushenka is young and beautiful girl who was brought to the town by the old man Samsonov. After having her heart broken by Mussyolovitch, she uses men for their money and makes investments to get money. She is a very strong willed woman. She is the cause of problems between Fyodor and Dmitri. Towards the end of the novel Grushenka has a change of heart and decides that she loves Dmitri.

Katerina Ivanovna Verkhovtsev (Katya, Katka, Katenka)- The fiancé of Dmitri, Katerina feels as though she owes Dmitri something after he helped her father out of a difficult situation. She feels as though she should be tortured by never leaving Dmitri even though he doesn’t want anything to do with her. She is in love with Ivan and doesn’t act on it until the end of the novel.

Katerina Ospovna Khokhlakov (Madame Khokhlakov)- Wealthy friend of the Karamazovs and Katerina. She is the mother of Lise and is always highlighting the fact that Lise is crippled and misbehaves.

Liza Khokhlakov-(Lise)- The wheelchair bound daughter of Madame Khokhlakov. She takes nothing seriously and is immature. At one time she is engaged to Alyosha but then refuses to marry him. Towards the end of the novel she goes crazy and slams her finger in the door on purpose.

Zosima – The kind and moral elder of Alyosha. He is Alyosha’s teacher and mentor and he influences the way people perceive God and humans for the better. He dies and his body smells bad, which isn’t a good sign but those who believe in him know that he is a good person.

Rakitin – Alyosha’s two faced adversary from the monastery who tries to corrupt Alyosha. He is far from being a naturally moral person like Alyosha and is a self proclaimed socialist.

Father Ferapont- The monk who despises Zosima.

Lizaveta Smerdyastchya (Stinking Lizaveta) – The mentally challenged woman in the town who died after giving birth to Smerdyakov. She was most likely raped by Fyodor and became impregnated by him.

Grigory Kutuzov Vasilievich(Grigory)- The husband of Marfa and caregiver of Fyodor’s abandoned children. He is one of Fyodor’s servants.

Marfa Ignatyevna- The wife of Grigory and another one of Fyodor’s servants.

Ilyusha Snegiryov (Ilyushechka, Ilyushka)- young son of a poor military captain, who, after seeing his father being beaten by Dmitri, throws rocks at Alyosha. Later in the novel he becomes very sick and dies. His sickness unites him all of his friends again.

Nikolai Ivanov Krasotkin (Kolya)- Illusha’s best friend who doesn’t speak to him after Illusha injures one of the neighborhood dogs. Illusha’s sickness brings them together again. Kolya is very intelligent for his age of 13 and even tries to consider himself a socialist like Rakitan. After meeting Alyosha he develops a strong respect for him and Alyosha becomes his mentor.

Captain Snegiryov- Illusha’s father who refuses to accept money from Alyosha and is devastated at the fact that his son died.

Fetyukovich - A famous defense attorney from Moscow who represents Dmitri at the trial.

Ippolit Kirrillovich - The prosecuting attorney at Dmitri’s trial.

Mussyalovitch- Grushenka’s Polish officer ex-lover who broke her heart and comes back to see her but doesn’t win her back. He begs for money from her later in the novel.

Things you didn't know! (Hopefully)

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Essay on Literary Criticism:
Ya. E. Golosovker

The Words “Secret” and “Mystery”

Ya. E. Golosovker criticizes that the word “secret” is the most direct and ambiguous word used in The Brothers Karamazov. He argues that though “mystery” is a synonym to “secret,” it does not possess the same meaning. Golosovker claims that “secret” is used in the negative and cautionary sense as opposed to the positive and profound sense of meaning in “mystery.” It is also not surprising that “secret” is mostly used when describing Dmitri Fyodorovich Karamazov.

Golosovker’s strongest argument is the connection of Dmirti’s action to that of the word “secret.” It is made apparent that almost everything is done in “secret” when it comes to Dmitri. Examples include secret meetings, secret money kept by Dmitri, and the secret money for Grushenka known by Dmitri. The argument goes beyond Dmitri and his wrong, forbidden actions. The malice actions done by the characters have all been in secrecy. Alyosha himself, as pointed out by Golosovker, is guilty of carrying a secret sorrow when his elder dies, and his belief in God is in question. He doesn’t speak of his secret because he knows it was wrong of him to doubt what Father Zosima had taught him. A “secret” in the novel is not good, but rather has been under malice intentions and thoughts for the characters that have secrets.

The biggest “secret” exposed by Golosovker is the Devil’s secret. This is the “secret” of Dmitri’s escape, which was first kept from Alyosha who believes in suffering and purification. If Dmitri ran, then he would be running from his cross, and would be rejecting God. Dmitri, Ivan, and Katya keep this plan from Alyosha, at first, because Alyosha teaches the word of God to man at Father Zosima’s request. Again the "malice" intention to run and escape suffering only contributes to Golosovker’s argument of the direct and ambiguous meaning of “secret.” The direct meaning of “secret” is that information is only known to one or few people to hide away intentions. The ambiguous meaning is that secret does represent good intention or information but rather brings a negative tone to the novel whenever it is used. This is what Golosovker is trying to support in his essay of criticism on the novel.
Essay on Literary Criticism:
Albert Camus

Rejection of Salvation

In general, 19th Century novels are mostly based upon Romanticism in which mankind’s needs are above God. Albert Camus argues that The Brothers Karamazov goes beyond the ideas of Romanticism. Ivan Fyodorovich Karamazov falls under the romantic rebels but with different ideas. He wants justice instead of God and instead of faith in his actions. God is not denied in the novel, but rather looked upon as an equal. But Ivan sides with justice over divine power. By siding with justice, Camus argues that, at the same time, Ivan rejects salvation because he is refuting God with no remorse, and no hope of redemption.

Camus points out that Ivan did not chose to reject God because of hatred, but rather because of compassion for man. He explains how Ivan does not believe that truth should be found though suffering of innocence. Eternal life is faith in suffering, which is injustice in the mind of Ivan. So Ivan rejects eternal life, and chooses not to find salvation in the intention of finding justice instead. One seeks justice, but reason and fate have overruled many for fear of never finding salvation. Ivan overcomes that fear.

Ivan then falls in this contradictory state. Camus reveals Ivan’s lifestyle by stating that if there is no virtue to live for then “everything is permitted”, as so greatly stated by Ivan. He explains that Ivan accepts murder, but doesn’t accept the executioner who is doing the same thing as the murder. That is, the murderer and executioner are doing what they want since everything is permitted. This is where Ivan goes mad. The contradiction greatly tortures Ivan because neither side can be pleased. The consequence of rebellion is madness from defending it against oppositions. Camus exposes the madness that dwells in Ivan because of his own rebellion.
Camus emphasizes that Ivan doesn’t seek to reform God’s rule like the Great Inquisitor, but rather he wants to free himself from mankind and morals. Ivan rebels by arguing that suffering should not exist for it happens to the innocent and if suffering does not exist, then neither does fate, and therefore, eternal life is no longer an option. Thus we arrive at the conclusion that Ivan does not and will not seek salvation out of malice, but out of good intention.
Essay on Literary Criticism:
Harry Slochower

Incest in The Brothers Karamazov

It is accepted in the criticism of Dostoyevsky that Grushenka is the representation of incest in The Brothers Karamazov. It falls along similar ideas that are portrayed in Hamlet and Oedipus Rex, where the son struggles with patricide stimulated and motivated by sexual rivalry. Many aspects of the novel support this criticism, but Harry Slochower has chosen to refute by saying that Katerina Ivanovna (Katya) is the incest figure. He claims that Katya is the deeper of Dmitri Fyodorovich Karamazov’s burden of incest. Though Dmitri lusts and loves Grushenka, he is connected to Katya, and Slochower has taken this connection into great consideration.

One of his strongest points draws the similarities between Grushenka and Dmitri’s mother, Adelaida. Both come from distinguished families, and are vibrant and self-willed. They seem to both defy the conventional woman. Dmitri was abandoned and neglected by his mother, leaving him with a feeling of insecurity and hatefulness towards a woman who resembles her. The woman then turns out to be Katya, and the resemblance is obvious. Katya at first neglected and disregarded Dmitri, like his mother chose to do, until she was forced to submit to him for her father’s sake. Dmitri loves Katya, but not in the conventional way. He cares about her opinion and approval, but defies her at the same time. Slochower exposes this defiance by pointing out how Dmitri continually cheated on her and took her money, but he never let her out of his life, something he could not manage to do with his mother.

Slochower also reveals Katya’s personality of a mother towards Dmitri. She struggles to control him, just like his mother struggled to control his father, Fyodor Karamazov. This possessiveness is what, Slochower says, drove Dmitri to Grushenka, but he didn’t want to completely leave Katya. Dmitri wanted to repay the money he took, but only with the money his father took from his mother. Maybe this is his way of finding resolution for his mother, in the form of Katya, since her money was stolen by Fyodor. As described by Slochower, Katya is the commanding goddess mom and Grushenka is the mistress mom, and together they complete Dmitri. He needs them both, and even though he loves Grushenka, Dmitri loves Katya in a different way because he knows that Katya will be there to save him. She will be the disciplinary mother who unconditionally loves him as a son.

Slochower agrees that incest exists in The Brothers Karamazov, but not in the figure most widely agreed upon. He reveals how Dmitri, like Hamlet, struggles with the motivation to kill his father for the desire of his mother, but in Dmitri’s case it is for the desire of repaying back Katya who represents his mother. Slochower has chosen to support the idea of incest existing in the form of Katya, and has well supported his criticism.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

The Brothers Karamazov: Plot Summary


The book begins by introducing Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov, describing him as a man that is only interested in money and women. Through his various relationships with women, he ends up having three baby boys: Ivan, Dmitri (Mitya), and Alexei (Alyosha). Much like the whoring star of Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, Fyodor doesn’t want to have much (if anything) to do with his children, and instead of looking after them as they grow through their youth, he passes them on to relatives and acquaintances.

The initial conflict in the novel occurs when Dmitri returns home to his father’s place to request an inheritance left by his mother. Fyodor objects, stating that he will keep the money for himself. Both of Ivan’s brothers eventually become involved in the quarrel, and Alyosha, who is a member of the local monastery, suggests that his elder Zosima help to settle the quarrel. However, when all four men arrive at the monastery, an argument ensues, and the reader learns that there is also a woman, Grushenka, who is involved.

More problems ensue between the members of the family that same day, as Dmitri knocks his father to the ground over a dispute regarding Grushenka. The result is a bruised and battered Fyodor, who nevertheless maintains his “superior” composure. The next day, as Alyosha visits yet another woman connected to the Karamazovs, Katerina, he finds that Ivan is at Katerina’s, visiting.

Zosima, Alyosha’s greatest influence in life, dies shortly thereafter. Alyosha, who had learned so much from Zosima, decides to try his best to live up to Zosima’s reputation, despite the feelings among other monks that Zosima was actually corrupt. Alyosha heads to Grushenka’s house, and the two young persons form a close bond. Alyosha has now become tied to the relationship between Grushenka, Dmitri, and Fyodor; though he knows little about how important this tie will eventually prove to be.

Meanwhile, Dmitri, who owes Katerina 3,000 rubles from their previous engagement, attempts to do everything in his power to gain the money to pay her back. After visiting Grushenka’s house and not finding her there, he heads to his father’s house, thinking she might have gone there instead. However, he finds his father alone, and after getting his attention, decides to run away. While running away, he runs into Grigory, a servant of Fyodor’s and strikes him with a pestle that he found at Grushenkas. After checking to make sure that Grigory is okay, the bloodied Dmitri flees the scene.

Dmitri then head back to Grushenka’s, learns that she has left to pursue a former lover, and then follows in her footsteps. As he spots Grushenka and her new lover together, he begins carelessly spending money, which is apparently from an envelope that his father Fyodor had left under his mattress in case Grushenka decided to be his lover. Through the carousing and spending, Grushenka realizes she’s still in love with Dmitri. But before the two can make their getaway, the police arrest Dmitri for the murder of his father, who has been found dead at his estate.

Before the trial takes place, Ivan speaks with another one of Fyodor’s servants, Smerdyakov, about the murder. Smerdyakov confesses to the murder, but he also states that Ivan planned the whole thing. Ivan, who is already suffering from sickness, begins to dive into insanity. Smerdyakov hangs himself a day before the trial.

At the trial, the two sides give their evidence, and the courtroom shakes with the sudden announcement from Ivan that he was the murderer. In order to save Ivan, Katerina submits a letter written by Dmitri saying that he was going to kill his father. In the end, the court finds Dmitri guilty and sentences him to twenty years “in the mines.”

Despite all of this, Dmitri and Katerina forgive one another, and Katerina offers her help in Dmitri’s escape from prison, which is surprisingly supported by Alyosha.

To conclude the novel, Alyosha attends the funeral of a young boy, Ilyusha (whom he had met earlier in the novel), and tells all of the young boy’s friends to remember to be kind, loving people throughout their lives.




The Brothers Karamazov: Literary Elements


Setting: The novel is centered in a mid-nineteenth century Russian town by the name of Skotoprigonyevsk. The action in the novel shifts from the Karamazov estate, to the town monastery, to the houses of the other various characters involved in the story.

Conflict: In The Brothers Karamazov, the main conflict deals with the love triangle between Dmitri Karamazov, Fyodor Karamazov, and Grushenka, and the ensuing murder that occurs as a result of its implications. Other various conflicts affect the play, including the romantic relationships among other characters, including Dmitri’s past love for Katerina, and Alyosha’s involvement with Liza Khokhlakov.

Irony: Elements of irony can be found throughout the play, including:

The monks’ doubt of Zosima’s credibility, due to the stench emanating from his body after his death (this is an example of dramatic irony, as the reader can tell from Zosima’s conversations with Alyosha that he is in fact a great person).

Although Fyodor abandons his children, leaving them in the care of others, one of them is eventually the main focus of concern regarding his murder. In addition, he in fact relies on them in his later years of life.

The simple fact that Fyodor Karamazov believes that he can “love” other humans despite his history of buffoonery and lack of care for others.

Dmitri has two spending sprees throughout the course of the novel, both of which prove to be evidence against him in the trial.

Themes: Some recurring themes in the novel include:

(Lust) Both Dmitri and Fyodor desire the love of Grushenka, but one has to question if either one of them actually care for her. Fyodor’s “love” for others has often proven to be lackluster at best, and Dmitri’s character traits suggest that he couldn’t possibly have such strong emotions for any one individual. However, the end of the story seems to clear things up rather well, as Dmitri’s love becomes more believable through his actions and words.

(Family) Much as in The Cherry Orchard, by Anton Chekhov, family plays a key role to the unfolding of the plot. The ties between the Karamazov brothers and their father bring all of the members of the family into the climax of the play, at which Dmitri is convicted of murdering his father. Despite this, Ivan and Alyosha continue to believe in his innocence and still wish to help him in any way they can.

(Money) Again, another Russian work, another Russian theme: money. The 3,000 rubles which Dmitri owes Katerina prove to be the result of the murder of Fyodor Karamazov, and the main foundation on which the prosecution places their evidence against Dmitri. The money, which had been stolen from Katerina by Dmitri in order to be used toward his relationship with Grushenka, is the x factor in Dmitri’s trial.

(Religion) The Brothers Karamazov is absolutely littered with references to religion and its effect on people and the human psyche. Those who are profound believers in their faith as well as those who aren’t quite so religious will love this story because of the manner in which it questions religious beliefs and the generally accepted religious ideals, especially in the philosophical conversations between Ivan and Smerdyakov and Alyosha and his brothers.

Style: Fyodor Dostoyevsky writes in a somewhat sarcastic manner, despite the apparent seriousness of his work. For example, the book begins with these lines from Dostoyevsky: “The Brothers Karamazov is a joyful book.” Really, Mr. Fyodor? Trying to get into our heads before we’ve even read a single line of plot, huh? Wonderful. This brashness that the narrator possesses continues throughout the course of the novel, and the narrator becomes somewhat of a character in and of itself.

Symbols: The Karamazov Brothers come to symbolize all of Russia towards the end of the play. As the prosecutor is explaining Dmitri’s mindset, and why he had to have committed the murder, it is easy to see that the Karamazov triad (Ivan, with his philosophical questioning, Dmitri, with his inclination to fight for what he believes in, and Alyosha, with his constant devotion to his faith and supreme intelligence) comes to embody all that represents Russia at the time that the book was written. It was likely Dostoyevsky’s intention to write this book as a social commentary on Russian life, much as Chekhov did in his plays.

Foreshadowing: Some elements of foreshadowing include:

The early revelation that Fyodor Karamazov’s children were not brought up by him, but rather by his friends and/or servants.

Zosima’s prediction that Dmitri would one day face grave danger, and his subsequent kissing of the ground at Dmitri’s feet.

Dostoyevsky’s hint to the reader before the trial even ends that Dmitri is going to be found guilty.

Social Issues: Nearly every social class is represented in the play, from peasants (Fyodor in his early days), to middle-class members (Alyosha, Dmitri, etc.), to upper-class members (Katerina). The impact of the peasants is felt during the trial, as it is the peasants who make up most of the jury in number. Could Dostoyevsky have been suggesting paying more attention to the lower class?

Influences: As previously mentioned, Dostoyevsky parallels Chekhov in that both of their plays showcase many of the same themes, symbols, and ideas. However, Dostoyevsky seems to be the master of the human mind, as proven by this engaging novel.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - A Brief Life History


1821, Fyodor was born on October 30 in Russia.
1838, January. He entered Military Engineering School.
October. He had to repeat the first year.
1839, June. Father murdered by his peasants.
1840, Began having epileptic seizures.
1843, He finished Military Engineering School.
1844, June & July. First published work was translation of Balzac’s novel Eugenie Grandet.
October. He decided to retire from military to focus on writing.
1845, Writes Poof Folk, The Double. Meets Petrashevsky and joined his discussion group on philosophy and politics.
1847-1848, Publishes minor works.
1849, April. Arrested for political subversion (part of Petrashevsky circle) He was sentenced to death by firing squad, but reprieved at last moment. He then left to Siberia on Christmas Eve.
1850-54. In prison at Omsk.
1854-59. Served in military battalion, Semipalatinsk, Siberia, first as a private, then as non-com (1855), ensign (1856).
1857, February. He married a widow, M.D. Isaev. Also resumed publishing.
1859, August. He was permitted to move to Tver (30 miles from Moscow).
December. Later, he was permitted to move to Petersburg.
1860-63. Fyodor issued the successful journal Time under brother’s editing.
1860, Began publishing Notes from a Dead House.
1862-63, He has an affair with Polina Suslov.
1864, He published a periodical The Epoch but it folds at the end of the year. The first issue contains beginning of Notes from Underground, and works on Crime and Punishment.
April. His wife died.
July. His brother Michael died, and assumes responsibilities for both debts owed by his wife and brother. He contracts an advance of 3000 rubles for his new work and agreed to give up his literary right if it was not produced by deadline.
1866, He finished Crime and Punishment and dictated The Gambler to fulfill his contract.
1867, February. He married Anna Grigorenva Snitkin, 18 year old stenographer to whom he dictated The Gambler and the epilogue of Crime and Punishment. He then went abroad to escape creditors.
1867-1871, He lived in Europe. He wrote and published The Idiot, The Eternal Husband, and began work on The Possessed.
1871, July. He returned to Russia and began publishing The Possessed.
1873, He was the editor of The Citizen.
1874, He left The Citizen to write The Adolescent.
1875, Time of the publication and conclusion of The Adolescent.
1876, Marked the beginning of monthly publication, A Writer’s Diary.
1878, May. His son Alexey died.
June. He went to the Optina Monastery and tells his companion, Vladimir Solovyo, the details of The Brothers Karamazov.
December. Fyodor stopped publication of the Diary to work on the novel.
1879, He began to publish The Brothers Karamazov.
1880, June. He delivered the “Pushkin Day Speech” that was published in the Diary.
November. Fyodor finishes The Brothers Karamazov.
1881, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s dies on January 28.

The Brothers Karamazov Websites


The Brothers Karamazov - Full Text

Yes, this is the first result of the Google search. However, for those of you who have found the novel interesting, this is a great way to read it without paying seventeen dollars for it! Check it out.

The Brothers Karamazov - Dartmouth Page

This page is absolutely awesome. In addition to providing a full e-text, the site also has a few audio passages from the book as well as a couple of things to ponder before you begin reading the book.

IMDb Movie Page for The Brothers K

Here you can find everything you want to know about the movie adaptation of the book. It seems interesting, so give it a look!

The Brothers K Hotel!

Unbelieveable. It seems as though someone is trying to make money off of our friend Dostoyevsky. Here is an interesting site detailing The Brothers Karamazov hotel in St. Petersburg!

Buy The Brothers K @ Amazon

For those of you looking to buy the book, check out Amazon, as it also has some solid reviews on the book, if you don't believe a word that we say.

Another Brothers K Review

In fact, speaking of reviews, this page also has some very interesting info regarding the novel. Check it out!

Encyclopedia Britannica - The Brothers K

Well how about that? Dostoyevsky was so good that his book even made the encyclopedia! Congratulations, Fyodor!

Biography of Fyodor Dostoyevsky

This site will satisfy the cravings of any of those people who can't get enough of Dostoyevsky...or those looking for information on him for a report.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky Quotes

Here are some of Dostoyevsky's most memorable quotes. (Note: Dostoyevsky is a GREAT writer, and there are many more excellent quotes that cannot be found on this page.)

Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Existentialism

Finally, we have a connection between Dostoyevsky and existentialism. This is quite an interesting topic, and goes along quite nicely with all of the philosophy present in The Brothers Karamazov.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

The Brothers K is a really good book. I like the long names though I have to add it does get confusing. I dont know whether to feel sorry towards Fyodor Palovich or just really be irrated by his actions and words. I do like Alyosha, the youngest son, he seems like a good guy. Dmitri is a little bit scary, and Ivan has not made much of an impression on me, but I think that will change soon. Hope you guys like the book too. : )

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

What is with the characters in this novel calling the other characters by their drawn-out, Russian names? It's almost as if they feel they have to emphasize their homeland of Russia through name-calling.

Also, just what is up with Fyodor (nice name, Dostoevsky) Pavlovich being such a menace to society, yet he thinks he can just sleep with whoever he wants, even Lizaveta? He's lucky he has some smart children come from his "handywork."

I'm confused about what Dmitri is trying to say through his allusions to poems and things in Chapter 3 of Book III. Can someone help?

The story is heating up as of Chapter 4 of the same book. Dmitri's story about Katerina is captivating and expected, considering the history of the Karamazov family and their means of tricking women!
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