The Brothers Karamazov
Each brother is a vivid, individual personality. Yet, as a group, they represent the classically recognized spectrum of human traits. Ivan Karamazov, one of the famous characters in modern literature, is the tortured intellectual who questions the justice of both man and God, the forerunner of modern philosophical nihilists who see no evidence of moral purpose in the world.
Dmitri, the man of passion, actually threatened to kill his father, for they both vie for the favors of the young courtesan Grushenka. If intent of the heart establishes guilt, then Dmitri must be guilty and is, in fact, arrested for the crime.
Young Alexey, called Alyosha, represents spirituality and purity, a contrast to the violence and sensuality of Dmitri and the rationality of Ivan. Yet he secretly recognizes his own tendency toward sensuality and his resentment of their irresponsible father. His mentor is Father Zossima, whose teaching on behalf of spiritual brotherhood provides a counterweight to the ambivalent, passionate nature of the Karamazovs.
The fourth son, Smerdyakov, is a servant in the household and does not bear the family name. He was born to an idiot woman raped by Fyodor Pavlovitch. He is understandably vulnerable to Ivan’s skepticism about human and divine justice.
Although this complex family tragedy promotes the vision of Christian redemption, its exploration of intellectual doubt and metaphysical rebellion seems, to some...
(The entire section is 426 words.)