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Portrayal Of Man In Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov

1216 words - 5 pages

Portrayal of Man in The Brothers Karamazov        

Debauchery, dueling, infidelity, orgies, and even monastery life are all used to help Fyodor Dostoevesky define his characters in The Brothers Karamazov. At the beginning of the novel, the reader becomes filled with contempt for a few members of the Karamazov family, yet filled with admiration for others. The legitimate members of the Karamasov family each represent a separate aspect of human character, which is applicable to society. In some ways the characters resemble separate factions and cliques of society that most often argue, but together can be productive. This is shown not by direct implication, but rather the reader discovers the fact on their own by becoming infuriated at the stupidity of the Karamazov men. This anger leads to the realization that in many ways, they themselves are in some ways similar to them.

     Fyodor Pavlovich Karamasov is the patriarch of the family. A shrewd businessman, Fyodor is very self-centered and cares more for himself than anyone else. He is a brilliant man for making deals and increasing his wealth, but manages to be oblivious of manners and societal rules. A tendency to act is an enormous fault in him, and he leaves an impression of having no deeply personal feelings, only overzealous acting to fit his "role" at any given time. When Fyodor's first wife dies Dostoevesky explains, "What seemed to gratify and flatter him most was to play the ridiculous part of the injured husband and to parade his woes with embellishments"(4). Because he has little, if any personal feelings, this enables him be indifferent towards others' emotions. Happiness is the only cause worth pursuing to Fyodor, and he will cross anyone to achieve it. While Fyodor is conversing with his youngest son Alexey about Alexey's brother Ivan, he admits "He doesn't ask money. . . but yet he won't get a farthing from me. The wenches won't come to me of their own accord, so I shall want my money"(157). Every member of mankind must admit that they too have an aspect within them that is much like Fyodor. There are times in life when the thought of "self" is all-consuming, and therefore one begins to act a part, and care little for others' well-being.

     Dmitri Fyodorovich Karamazov, the oldest son of Fyodor by his first wife, characterizes stubbornness and pleasures of the flesh. In a search for happiness and fulfillment, Dmitri's life consists of chasing women, drinking, fighting, and gambling. Lacking his father's cool head for business, Dmitri, or "Mitya" as they call him, is willing to spend any amount of money on items for pleasure. Aware of his financial downfalls, Dmitri even admits "With me money is an accessory, the overflow of my heart, the framework. I threw away money by the handful on music, rioting and gypsies"(97). Knowing this, merchants take advantage of him, and he remains almost constantly in debt. He is a very passionate character, always acting in a...

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