Explain how the character known as the Inquisitor in "The Grand Inquisitor" focuses or uses the terms mystery, miracle and authority in the reading.

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"The Grand Inquisitor" is a story within Dostoevsky's novel The Brothers Karamozov. In it, Jesus comes to Spain during the Spanish Inquisition. He is preaching to the people and gathering a following when the Inquisition—which was in charge of maintaining the purity of Catholic Church doctrine and making sure that nobody preached heresy—arrested him for heresy.

The Grand Inquisitor knows his prisoner is truly Jesus, but says his ideas are at odds with the ideas of the institution of Roman Catholicism. He says that Jesus made a mistake in offering humankind too much freedom—more than it could handle— a mistake the Church has not made. The Inquisitor says that,

Meantime, every chance of success was offered Thee [you]. There are three Powers, three unique Forces upon earth, capable of conquering for ever by charming the conscience of these weak rebels—men—for their own good; and these Forces are: Miracle, Mystery and Authority.

The Inquisitor goes on to say that Jesus made a mistake when he was tempted by the Devil in the desert. He should have shown that he could perform miracles by turning the stones into bread. After all, the Inquisitor says, people are impressed by those with the power to perform miracles (and those who feed them). The Inquisitor also states that Jesus should have thrown himself from the high tower when tempted by the Devil and shown the mystery (and miracle) that God would save him.

The Inquisitor says humans are too weak to turn down the temptation of miracles. To gain authority over humans, Jesus should have performed miracles—the Inquisitor also mentions the miracle getting himself down off the cross—and the people would have followed him more fully.

The Inquisitor implies that the Catholic Church has chosen the path of following Satan by telling people to believe in miracle and mystery and therefore has gained authority in the world—authority that Jesus' preaching and actions would have failed to garner. People are impressed by power, not freedom, says the Inquisitor.

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