The Brothers Karamazov Study Guide

The Brothers Karamazov Study Guide

Original title:
Братья Карамазовы
Published June 14th 2002 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1880)
ISBN 0374528373 (ISBN13: 9780374528379)

“The Brothers Karamazov” is the last book written by Fyodor Dostoyevsky in 1880. It is a rare case where the philosophy of the content is successfully mixed with the excitement of the plot.

One of the protagonists of the novel, Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov is a cold and rough man. He gets the joy in life while making money and sleeping with women, two of which he married. His children are brought up with little participation of their father and after the death of their mothers Dmitri, Ivan and Alyosha are sent away to relatives. He also has another child from a village girl and this boy named Smerdyakov will later play a crucial role in Fyodor Pavlovich's life.

The novel opens with the Karamazov boys becoming older and Dmitri, who is now a soldier, coming home to claim his inheritance. The father isn’t willing to give up the money and involves the other sons in resolving the conflict. The fight between the father and the son intensifies when they come to realize that they love the same woman, Grushenka.

When Grushenka disappears, Dmitri goes mad. At the same time, he learns about the death of his father and is blamed for it. Ivan realizes that his close relationship to his half-brother Smerdyakov was fatal and blames the death of his father on himself. In the end, he is nurtured by an ex-fiancé of Dmitri, who also helps Dmitri escape the prison and go to America with Grushenka.

The Karamazov brothers have different occupations and different approaches to life. This makes the book a literary discussion about religion, money, morality and social standards. The soldiers, the philosophers and the church apprentices are brought together by the blood links, but they can’t find common ground for understanding.

Through very mundane events the novel emphasizes the importance of being human, forgiving each other, loving and helping all the creatures in life. The philosophy and religion, the feeling of guilt and love, the truth and the lie are all intermingled to create a lasting impression among the readers.

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