- * BOOK FOUR - Heartaches
- * BOOK FIVE - Pro and Contra
- * BOOK SIX - The Russian Monk
FOUR - Heartaches
1. Father Zossima prepares for death, and many expectantly await a miracle.
He talks about his beliefs and refers to Alyosha as both "son"
and "orphan boy". He encourages Alyosha to return home to help
his family. We see Father Ferapont, a monk in the monastery who does not
believe in Zossima's love and honesty creed. He is a believer in fasting
and fear. In his ideology one should live constantly aware and in fear of
the devils around them. 2. Alyosha returns home and talks with his father,
who is alone. We learn that Ivan wants Katerina for himself. Fyodor talks
a lot about Ivan and his distrust of him. He says that he does not know
Ivan at all, that he is not one of them, and that he would be afraid if
Ivan were to love. He says that Alyosha is the only one with whom he has
had his "good moments," as well as the only one he does not fear.
3. Leaving his father's house Alyosha runs into a group of young boys who
are throwing stones at another young boy. Alyosha becomes involved because
of his nature and his love for children. When Alyosha tries to interfere,
the young boy at whom they were throwing rocks fights back and runs away.
Alyosha catches up with him, but the boy resents him, and bites his hand.
4 -5 Alyosha goes to Mrs. Khokhlakov's house to meet with her and Lise.
There his wound is bandaged. Lise tells Alyosha, unconvincingly, that her
letter was a joke, and should be returned to her. Alyosha does not return
it, and tells her that when she is older they will marry. He will do this
on the request of Zossima. Alyosha sees Katerina, who also lives with Mrs.
Khokhlakov. Ivan is with her at the time and Mrs. Khokhlakov tells him that
the situation is "dreadful" and a "fantastic comedy."
Alyosha goes to see Ivan and Katerina. Katerina has informed Ivan that she
loves Dmitri and will stand by him no matter what happens. To her it has
become an issue of honor and duty. She wants, no matter how long it takes
or how it may come about, to be Dmitri's only means of happiness. She wants
to be his "goddess." Ivan tells her that in another woman this
kind of sentiment would be neurotic, but that it is not with her, for she
shall make herself a martyr and be rewarded later. Alyosha attempts to convince
her that she loves Ivan and should let Dmitri go, but it does not work.
Katerina responds by calling him a "religious half-wit." His exhortation
to love is answered in anger. Even Ivan tells him that Katerina loves Dmitri
and only keeps him out of revenge. He says that the next day he will leave
for Moscow. Leaving, he too quotes from Schiller, like Dmitri before him.
After Ivan leaves, Alyosha is struck with grief. Katerina comes to him with
two hundred rubles and asks a favor of him. She asks him to bring it to
a man whom Dmitri has publicly humiliated. In anger Dmitri dragged the man,
a retired army officer named Snegiryov, by his beard down the street. The
whole time his young son begged for mercy for his father, and was met with
laughter. To atone for this in some manner, and to be a sister to this man
who has suffered humiliation from the same man who humiliates her, Katerina
asks Alyosha to offer the two hundred rubles to him on her behalf. 6 -7.
Alyosha leaves Mrs. Khokhlakov's house and seeks out Snegiryov's dwellings.
He finds him, and his family. His wife he describes as a "weak-minded
cripple," and one of his daughters is a hunchback. The other daughter
is a student who has been forced to stay home and help provide for her family,
which she deeply resents. The captain also has a young son, Ilyusha, who
is the same child who bit Alyosha in the street. Ilyusha assumes that Alyosha
came to discuss the bite, which Alyosha now understands as a reaction against
the Karamazov family. The captain and his family live in poverty, and it
is only his son who is clearly devoted to the captain. Alyosha talks with
the captain and hears his story. The despair, disgrace and poverty, from
which the captain and his family suffer, are great. When Alyosha reveals
his purpose for the visit, to give them the two hundred rubles, the captain
is overwhelmed. He talks about all the ways he could use the money to ease
the lives of his struggling family. He suddenly gets angry and changes his
mind. He can not bring himself to accept money to repair his injured honor.
His main reason for refusal is the respect of his son, which he desperately
needs. He throws the money on the ground and leaves. Alyosha takes it to
return to Katerina.
Book Four places Alyosha firmly in the position of confessor. Like Zossima
within the religious community, Alyosha within his own family is the one
turned to for confession. Within book four Alyosha is actively comforting
those around him, who are all suffering to a certain extent: Fyodor, Dmitri,
Ivan, Katerina, and Captain Snegiryov. For at least one moment they all
use Alyosha for relief. Confessing to him seems to help cleanse and ease
them. Alyosha moves from person to person, giving them his ear and his compassion.
Clearly he has followed the teachings of Zossima, and loves actively. He
is also working to bring about love, even if his efforts are not successful.
He encourages Ivan and Katerina to love and marry each other only to be
laughed at. He does this work outside of the monastery as Zossima has instructed
him, working for Christ within the realm of his family and its situation,
while also helping many people outside it. He even carries out the acts
of compassion on the behalf of others. He brings the two hundred rubles
to Captain Snegiryov for Katerina. The work Alyosha does in Book Four is
more trying, yet, according to Zossima, more worthwhile than life within
the confines of the monastery. He seeks even to comfort those who do not
come to him and reject his kindness. Particularly, it is Ilyusha who initially
hates Alyosha for being a Karamazov, and thus a source of his father's humiliation,
and he rejects Alyosha's compassion. Alyosha's efforts to reach out to this
young boy further illustrate his following of Zossima and Christ. He, like
The Idiot's Prince Myshkin, Christ, and Dostoevsky himself cherishes children
for their absolute innocence. Book Four helps place Alyosha firmly in this
tradition, and in doing so emphasizes the disparity between his and others
nature and that of others, especially Fyodor.
FIVE - Pro and Contra
1. Alyosha returns to Mrs. Khokhlakov's house to return the money, and finds
that Katerina has become ill and is unconscious. Alyosha relates the outcome
of his visit to Lise, who listens with rapture. They talk about their earlier
interaction, and they again profess their love, and plan to be married.
They also talk about Alyosha's brothers and father, and he tells Lise that
they are destroying themselves and each other. He goes so far in his sadness
to mysteriously say that he does not believe in God. His sadness, he says,
is in part because Zossima, his spiritual father, is dying. After their
talk, Lise makes the sign of the cross to bless Alyosha, and he leaves promising
her that they will be happy in the future. When Mrs. Khokhlakov overhears
their plans to marry she tells Alyosha that it is a bad idea, he assures
her that the marriage is far into the future and that she should not worry.
2 - 3. Alyosha returns home to try to find Dmitri. He hears Smerdyakov with
a guitar, singing to the daughter of the housekeeper. He sings to her, and
talks of his hatred for Russia, and his wish that he had never been born,
but rather died in the womb. Alyosha approaches them and asks where Dmitri
is. Smerdyakov is almost insulted by this question but tells Alyosha that
Dmitri is to dine in town with Ivan that evening. Alyosha goes immediately
to the inn and encounters Ivan. They sit down together and begin to speak
to each other sincerely, in an effort to "get acquainted." Ivan
says that he respects Alyosha, and Alyosha responds that he finds Ivan mysterious.
Ivan talks about his desire for life, that no matter what despair seizes
him, it can not destroy this longing for existence. He also says that he
wants to be Alyosha's friend because he has no friends; he confesses to
Alyosha, "perhaps I accept God," but does not accept the world
that God has created. He talks about God and man extensively, and ultimately
calls this his confession. He ends by saying that he has no intention of
corrupting Alyosha, and pushing him off of his foundation, but rather he
wishes for Alyosha to heal him. With that he smiles like a child. Ivan also
talks about love, and how man can not love that which is too close to him.
He can not love if he must see the object of his love. Men can not love
like Christ for Christ was a god and men are not gods. He also talks about
the suffering of children. For him that proves the absolute existence of
evil, and lack of harmony under God. Man is cruel, as evidenced by the suffering
of children, for they have not sinned, and thus must suffer for adults.
Man, Ivan says, is in fact far crueler than any beast, and that if man invented
the devil, he did so in his own likeness. In every man he says, is "the
beast of irascibility," and it is for this reason many men delight
in torturing the innocent. To him, the knowledge of good and evil gained
by the Fall of Man is not worth the suffering of one innocent creature,
and while that suffering continues he can not believe in the eternal harmony
of the universe. Finally, Alyosha responds softly that this all amounts
to rebellion. This saddens Ivan, who says that one can not continue to exist
in rebellion, and yet Ivan wants to live. He asks Alyosha if he would be
the man to create a world where all men would be happy if it required that
one innocent child would have to be tortured to death. Alyosha says he would
not, but reminds Ivan that Christ was without sin, and he died for the sake
of humanity's forgiveness and ultimate happiness. Ivan then responds with
a "poem" he has made up entitled "The Grand Inquisitor,"
in which Christ is the main character. 5. Ivan's "poem" takes
place in Spain during the sixteenth century and the Spanish Inquisition.
Ivan speaks of how the believers in Christ have been longing and praying
for Christ's return for 1500 years, and that he longed to return to his
people. He quotes a Russian poet, Tyutchev, who proclaimed that Christ had
returned and walked among his people, and this, Ivan says, is true. This
is where his story begins, in Seville, Spain. Christ comes down to earth
in the midst of the Inquisition, and is recognized immediately. People can
not help but love and follow him. He heals the sick, makes the blind see,
and raises the dead in his compassion. The Cardinal, or Grand Inquisitor,
witnesses the raising of the child from the dead, and orders that this man
be arrested. The Grand Inquisitor visits Christ in his cell that evening
and is angry with him for having returned. To the Cardinal, Christ's reappearance
is meddling in the Church's realm. He tells Christ that all power now lies
with the Pope, and not with him. The Pope and the earthly institution of
the Church have been entrusted with the freedom of the people. They, he
says, can not handle the burden of free will, which is unendurable; the
Church has rid the people of their freedom in order to make them happy.
They will become slaves in order to be fed. The Church will feed them and
deceive them. They will claim to feed men in the name of Christ. This is
what Christ should have done, the old man says. He chose the "banner
of freedom and the bread from heaven" instead of the "banner of
earthly bread." Man suffers because he does not have the strength to
endure free will, or the vague things he must accept. Christ should have
been more miraculous to give man something to hold onto. He needs stability
and security that is what the earthly Church offers. The Grand Inquisitor
admits that he is on the devil's side, having joined it when the papacy
seized earthly power and took "the sword of Caesar." The Grand
Inquisitor says that he has sacrificed himself to make the masses happy
in their earthly existence. Christ's way only allows the strong to be saved.
Christ has not said a word during the Grand Inquisitor's speech, and says
nothing afterwards. He simply kisses the old man on his withered lips. At
this moment the Grand Inquisitor forgets his promises to burn Christ at
the stake, and sets him free, telling him never to come again. Alyosha argues
over the story with Ivan, they do not agree in the end, and Alyosha simply
gets up and kisses his brother on the lips, to which Ivan responds by shouting
"plagiarism!" They part, and before they do, Ivan promises as
a "declaration of love" to not lose his passion for life, and
for the "sticky little leaves" of existence. 6 - 7. Leaving
his brother, Ivan is depressed and morose. He meets Smerdyakov and realizes
that he had been in the back of Ivan's mind. He thinks about his resentment
and intense dislike of Smerdyakov. Ivan stops to talk to him anyway, and
they begin to talk about Dmitri, Fyodor and Grushenka. Smerdyakov talks
of the father and son rivalry for Grushenka. He also tells Ivan of the secret
signals he has been instructed to use if Grushenka should come to see Fyodor.
He admits that he has revealed these signals to Dmitri who is also eagerly
watching and waiting for Grushenka. Perhaps, Ivan suggests, Smerdyakov is
trying to give Dmitri a way to get to Fyodor through the secret signals.
Smerdyakov himself fears he will be taken for an accomplice should something
happen. He also says that he fears what will become of Dmitri and his father.
He says that Dmitri is in desperate need of money and knows of three thousand
rubles in an envelope marked for Grushenka. Even Ivan doubts Dmitri would
murder for money. He also says that he is sure he will have an epileptic
fit the next day, and suggests that Ivan leave town. Deciding that he can
not be his brother's keeper, Ivan agrees he will leave for Moscow the next
day. Smerdyakov says that would be best, but that he should go to Chermasnya,
which is much nearer. Ivan goes to bed but cannot sleep. The next day, at
his father's urging, he decides to go to Chermasnya to sell some wood for
his father. When he tells Smerdyakov of this change in plan, he whispers,
"it's nice to have a chat with a clever man." When Ivan leaves,
he feels happy and wants to leave the past behind him. At his father's house,
Smerdyakov falls into a severe epileptic fit. Fyodor, alone in the house,
locks himself in and waits for Grushenka.
The first part of Book Five shows Alyosha's developing relationship with
the young Lise. He has promised to marry her and has even sealed it with
a kiss. Alyosha says he is going to marry because it was the request of
Zossima, and that he could think of no one to make a better wife than Lise.
The majority of Book Five is devoted to the understanding of Ivan's ideas
and beliefs, which he tells to Alyosha over dinner one night in the inn.
It is the two brothers chance to get to know each other before Ivan leaves.
Ivan says that he respects Alyosha for his firm belief, and it is mostly
for this reason that he wants Alyosha to know and understand what he himself
believes. This scene, along with the Grand Inquisitor of the next section,
presents a large part of the theological issues in The Brothers Karamazov.
The first thing Ivan says is that he has a great love for life, even if
it is against logic. They talk about the question of God and immortality,
and Ivan admits that he may accept God, but not the illogical and suffering-filled
world He has created. Unless Ivan sees the miraculous healing of the world,
the great atonement, he can not accept God's world. There is too much brutality
and suffering innocence for Ivan to accept this world as good. Men do not
and can not love their neighbor the way Christ did. Man's nature is too
cruel, crueler, in fact, than any animal. Specifically, he talks about the
suffering and torture of children, the innocent who have not yet sinned.
Here again we see the sentiments of Dostoevsky expressed. Ivan asks Alyosha
if he would be responsible for a world where all men would be happy. This
Ivan calls his "confession," and says that he does not wish to
"corrupt" or push Alyosha "off the firm foundation on which
he stands." Instead, he says perhaps it is he who would like to be
"healed" by Alyosha, who is now not only the acknowledged confessor,
but is seen as healer: he can mend the heart and spirit of his world-weary
brother. Alyosha tells him this is rebellion, and Ivan, who loves existence
dearly, can not exist in such a state of rebellion, which suggests that
if Ivan is going to continue to live he will have to undergo some sort of
spiritual change. Ivan also makes his brother see that he is not illogical,
for even Alyosha can not admit that he would create a world in which men
have peace and happiness, if but one innocent creature would have to be
tortured to attain this. To this Alyosha says that Christ died to atone
for all sins, and Ivan responds with "The Grand Inquisitor." The
"poem" is essentially about the worldly church, and how it has
become an earthly power that accepts the obedience of man who can not endure
the freedom Christ has granted the world. It is a story about the conflict
the offerings to man of Christ and the Church. One is the burden of freedom,
the other the yoke of bondage. The Church in its role as "master"
has joined forces with Satan, but the Grand Inquisitor insists they have
done it for the happiness of man. The way of Christ is too much for man,
who needs the earthly rather than the heavenly bread of the Eucharist. This
story serves in part as a vehicle for Dostoevsky's invective against the
Roman Catholic Church. The Cardinal in Ivan's story admits to being on the
side of the devil, which is the greatest slander he could make. He has accused
the Roman Catholic Church, through the tale of the Grand Inquisitor, of
being with the devil and of having usurped the power and the necessity of
Christ himself. They deceive the people openly, claiming to represent Christ
while the Cardinal says himself that Christ will only meddle with his work.
To prevent this the Cardinal plans to burn Christ as he would, and has,
burned many other "heretics" in the course of the Spanish Inquisition,
destroying all those against his enlightened philosophy. A great deal of
"The Grand Inquisitor" revolves around Christ's refusal of the
three temptations offered him by the devil in the desert (Luke 4:1-13).
The Cardinal says that if Christ had accepted the temptation, he would
have been accepting security for man through bread, but instead man was
burdened with freedom. He must choose to believe in Christ against logic.
If Christ had accepted temptation, he would have given the people something
miraculous to hold on to, and believe in, as well as stability, augmenting
the idea of man's necessity of miracles, as seen in the Zossima episode.
Christ determined the fate of man through his rejection of temptation. That,
he says, is why man needs to offer his obedience to the church, for he is
too weak to believe or be saved in another way. Christ's way is only for
the strong, who still must suffer for it, the masses are too weak for that
way. The Church has given man "miracle, mystery, and authority,"
although falsely, in the name of Christ. Man has given the church his faith
and obedience, and on this the Church is building an earthly empire. Christ's
return to the Cardinal is simply an intolerable interruption in their work,
and so he must be burned at the stake. At the end, as we see, Christ without
speaking kisses the old man on his lips, and is set free, told to leave
and never return. Alyosha mimics this very act to his brother at the end
of their meeting in his compassion and desire to soothe and comfort. He
knows that words will not change his brother's mind; he has obviously suffered
and thought and thus come to this conclusion. There is no easy answer for
the questions of faith and freedom. The end of Book Five shows the character
of Smerdyakov to be deeply involved in the disputes between Fyodor and Dmitri.
He is feigning loyalty to them both, and is well aware that something terrible
will transpire between them. He plans, or suggests that he will be in an
epileptic fit when it will happen, rousing the reader's suspicion in the
servant's involvement, and Smerdyakov suggests that Ivan leave town. Knowing
something is going to happen, Ivan leaves anyway. He has clearly made the
decision not to be his brother's keeper. The scene is set for murder, with
all the servants busy, Fyodor locked in his house, and Dmitri armed with
the secret signals. It is evident from the last pages of Book Five that
Smerdyakov and Ivan both are going to be in some way responsible for the
death of Fyodor.
SIX - The Russian Monk
1 - 3. Book Six is the complete story of Father Zossima, who is now on the
brink of death, with many people gathered around him listening and waiting
for a miracle at his death. He explains to Alyosha his bow to Dmitri, saying
that he bowed down "to the great suffering that is in store for him."
Zossima continues to urge Alyosha to live and work in the world among people.
Alyosha reminds Zossima of his older brother who died young, a freethinker
who underwent a great conversion months before he died at age seventeen.
He died a believer with great faith and a strong desire to love all creatures
as Christ did. His love for his young novice is apparent. The Bible's influence
on Zossima is discussed. He tells the story of his own transformation, which
took place in the context of a duel he challenged a man to in his youth.
The duel was for the affection of a woman. The morning of the duel he has
an awakening that reminds him that he must love all of God's creatures.
To avoid hurting the man in the duel, Zossima let his opponent shoot, but
dropped his own gun without firing. Zossima also talks about some confessions
he has received from men burdened with guilt, to whom he said that truth
is power. He also discusses how the Russian monks are the truest companions
and guides of the common people who truly have faith. He speaks of equality
for all people and the spreading of Christ's message. "Love man even
in his sin" he says, endorsing a love without judgement. Finally we
hear about his ideas on hell, which is only spiritual, and for people who
have voluntarily accepted torment as their fate. They reject forgiveness,
damning God, themselves and life. After this, the narrator notes the conclusion
of Alyosha's manuscript end, for it was from him that the information on
Zossima came. Finally, Father Zossima dies.
Zossima, a Russian monk, is seen as the salvation of the Russian people.
His significance can not be underestimated in this role as a monk, as well
as his role as Alyosha's spiritual leader and father. Zossima, near his
death, does not lessen in significance, but a whole book is dedicated to
the story of his life and his beliefs. We see that he is a man who has come
to his faith through a great deal of thought and anguish. He has lived with
true faith, and has come to it through a conscious dedication of himself.
He has suffered, which for Dostoevsky is purification. For this reason he
acknowledges and bows down to Dmitri, who himself will suffer. Man should
take upon himself the suffering and the responsibility for the sin of all
men, and not simply for himself, which helps to justify the existence of
such seemingly evil creatures as Fyodor, as such characters as his sons
shall, in one way or another, accept the suffering for his sins as their
own. This suggestion of a shared suffering gives hope that Dmitri and Ivan
might turn to faith as well. The faith of Zossima is the ideal, and is in
stark contrast to the ideas that Ivan has come to. His message remains one
of love and truth as found in the Bible, and is one regarding the two greatest
and most essential elements of faith and salvation. Love and truth bring
belief in that which we can not understand. This is what Ivan, and intellectual
skeptic, can not accept, that love and truth will result in believing in
that which is an inexplicable mystery.