The Brothers Karamazov is a novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky which depicts the story of three brothers, Dmitri, Ivan and Alyosha. The novel is prefaced with The Grand Inquisitor section from The Brothers Karamazov, where the main character, Dmitri has been arrested for murdering his father after he catches Dmitri with the family’s fortune. The novel depicts Dmitri’s trial, which all of his brothers attend in order to support him. The story is told from the perspective of the narrator who constantly provides back stories about each characters.
The main protagonist, Dmitri has many traits that are similar to Fyodor Dostoevsky himself, whereas his other characters have different similarities to people around them or even themselves. The Brothers Karamazov contains a variety of themes including love, death, faith and moral problems. The major themes presented in this novel are introduced by three distinct relationships shown in the novel: The relationship between Zosima and Alyosha; between Dmitri and Ivan; finally that of Fyodor Pavlovich and Smerdyakov.
The relationship between Zosima and Alyosha is one of discipleship, Dmitri sees himself as a protector of the weak but struggles to live up to this ideal whereas Ivan is cynical towards religion despite being very intelligent, he often describes arguments against God rather than for God. The last relationship presented is that of Fyodor Pavlovich and Smerdyakov. The character Fyodor Pavlovich loves his son deeply even though their relationship has been affected by money problems due to the father’s love of gambling.
The last major theme in The Brothers Karamazov is moral problems, which are presented by showing how characters deal with the consequences of different actions throughout the novel. The protagonist, Dmitri Fyodorovich Karamazov is a passionate, hot-blooded and sensual man. The narrator refers to him as a “spoilt child” who has been loved too much by everyone around him, in particular his father. The novel emphasises this relationship between Fyodor Pavlovich and Dmitri when Dmitri states that because of their intimate nature he feels like his father will understand the motive behind the murder [which he did not commit].
The character Dmitri is similar to Fyodor Dostoevsky himself in many ways, where they share opinions on atheism and also share a strong passion for women. The novel shows Dmitri’s internal conflict with himself which often comes out through describing how others see him, such as in the beginning when The Narrator describes Dmitri “We all know that he [Dmitri] was a hot-tempered and violent man; we know too that he was a liar, and had a reputation for dishonesty. ” The novel also emphasises Dmitri’s passion like in chapter five when The Narrator states: “Ivan doesn’t believe it!
He says I am lying,” and The Father replies: “my dear boy, I swear he is telling the truth. It is true! ” The novel shows Dmitri struggling with his own internal conflict which often leads him to make rash decisions like killing his father or getting involved with Grushenka. The novel presents Dmitri not only as passionate but often violent where he struggles to control himself, The Narrator describes this internal conflict saying: “It seemed as if there were two men in him… one man would be struggling with the other and trying to quiet him down.
The quiet one was far smaller than the noisy one, but he spoke fluently and plausibly” The novel shows how his passion both helps and hinders him on multiple occasions like when during the court case for Fyodor Pavlovich’s murder The Father states that Dmitri has a hot temper which got him into an argument with his father; whereas Grushenka states that he is full of life and energy. The novel shows that although Dmitri is passionate sometimes it can be unwarranted especially when dealing with women like Grushenka.
The novel also emphasises his feelings of inadequacy that leads him to be easily manipulated especially by other characters like Grushenka who has an affair with The Father after Dmitri was too quick to declare his love for her. The reason why women are treated as fragile beings in The Brothers Karamazov is because The Brothers are taught this by their father, Fyodor Pavlovich because he thinks them incapable of controlling themselves.
The novel shows Dmitri struggling to live up to the standards set by others including Tikhon and Zosima before death when he realises that “the things I wanted so badly before won’t even tempt me now. The Novel shows Dmitri’s strong passion through references made to alcohol, The Narrator describes how “Dmitri had drunk a lot of wine” and The Father states that he is a “drunkard” who is unable to control himself. The novel also shows Dmitri as violent where his temper gets the better of him especially when dealing with women like Grushenka; The Narrator states: “He treated her more severely than he would some coarse peasant woman.
The story shows Dmitri as passionate and violent, but it also emphasises his good side such as his love for The Father and Alyosha. The novel presents Dmitri Fyodorovich Karamazov as a flawed individual which led Dostoevsky to comment that: The first wife of Fyodor Pavlovich, The Mother of The Brothers Karamazov is a beautiful woman who was unlucky in love because she found herself married to Fyodor Pavlovich, The Father. The novel describes The Mother as “un-Christian” and that she has no faith or belief which led her to leave The Father for Grushenka.
The novel describes her as: The novel shows The Mother as a victim trapped in an unhappy marriage like when she says: “I’ve come to tell you, don’t go on tormenting me! ” The novel also states how other characters look down on her such as Zosima who calls her: “impure before God. ” She is treated as the apathetic character that does not care about anyone else but herself, The Narrator describes her during The Fyodor Pavlovich trial: “She listened with a strange smile and in complete silence.
The novel does however show The Mother as an individual who is capable of standing up for herself like when The Father attacks Dmitri she warns him: “If you touch him I’ll go at once to his father and brother! ” The novel shows the passion that The Mother has for Grushenka when she says: “Yes, let me go! If not, I will shout! ” The Novel presents The Mother as apathetic character that lacks hope for the future; The Narrator states that.