Portrayal of Man in Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov

Better Essays
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. Wh...

... middle of paper ...

...e in their own ways. When searching for separate goals, and conflicting with each other, they can accomplish very little. The more inner-conflict within the family, the more problems they seem to find themselves in. These men, representing different aspects of society and humankind, have problems that they cannot solve on their own. If the Karamazov's were to work together towards a common goal, much could become accomplished, just as society could solve many conflicts through teamwork and cooperation. The characters in the novel The Brothers Karamazov show the reader that most societal conflicts are unnecessary and could easily be remedied through understanding and patience.


Dostoevesky, Fyodor Mikhailovich. The Brothers Karamazov. The Constance Garnett Translation revised by Ralph E. Matlaw. New York: W. W. Norton & Company Inc., 1976