I don't think I'm going to review the book. I have a feeling that most people are generally aware of the plot and either have read it or have watched I don't think I'm going to review the book. I have a feeling that most people are generally aware of the plot and either have read it or have watched some film adaptation of it. In a nutshell the story takes us through three nights with the main character Ebenezer Scrooge, a greedy and unfeeling man of business. He is visited first by his dead business partner, Jacob Marley, who comes to warn him of the afterlife to which Scrooge is doomed, and then by three spirits of Christmas past, Christmas present, and Christmas future. Scrooge is shown who he was, who he is, and who he will be if he does not change. It's a story of redemption basically and redemptive stories often top the list of favorite books for Heather. I will say that the story is beautiful! Charles Dickens is a masterful writer and his prose is magnificent. Even at twenty-six years old, I still shiver at the description of Jacob Marley dragging his chains up the stairs to confront Scrooge. I still am affected by Scrooge's pleading for mercy from the ghost of Christmas Future. The characters in the story are so real they stay with you after you've turned the last page, and his descriptions (though some may call them wordy) bring everything to life. Every passage serves its purpose, and each sentence is beautifully constructed. ...more
The Brothers Karamazov is ultimately a story of the tensions of belief and unbelief. The youngest brother, Alyosha (who for a time was planning on be The Brothers Karamazov is ultimately a story of the tensions of belief and unbelief. The youngest brother, Alyosha (who for a time was planning on being a monk and was under the tutelage of a mysterious character, Elder Zosima) represents belief, while the troubled middle brother, Ivan represents atheism. The whole novel deals with the statement, “If there is no God than everything is permitted.” To clarify for the hairsplitters of the world, those words, in that order, do not actually appear in the novel, but that statement definitely sums up the thrust of the whole novel. I'm trying to not spoil the end for everyone, but when we finally find out who the murderer is, he says as justification, “I did it all simply because 'everything is permitted.'”
Though Dostoevsky himself calls Alyosha his protagonist, I would say possibly the most interesting, or at least most tragic, figure is Ivan. Ivan, as an atheist, understands that without God everything is permitted, yet he still wrestles with a God who will not leave him alone. He's a thoughtful man, and realizes that it's the world cannot be quite that simple. Through his avowed atheism, he keeps encountering his own conscience. We have here a perfectly illustrated tortured man whose own worldview says that everything is permitted yet who cannot let the idea of God go completely. Even at the end of the novel nothing has settled for him. He has not found peace.
I cannot leave the discussion of Ivan without talking about The Grand Inquisitor which has often been misinterpreted, but always seen as the chapter upon which this novel turns. The chapter is written by Ivan and it is about Jesus coming to earth during the time of the Inquisition. The Inquisitor (representing the church) takes Jesus aside and chastises him for giving people too much freedom. People need to feel secure rather than free, he argues and it's Jesus's fault that the church had to take over when he gave them too much freedom. You see, though Dostoevsky portrays Ivan as a man troubled by his own philosophy, he also has a 'no holds barred' approach to the challenges facing believers. If this was merely a story of belief, Dostoevsky could have chosen to have Ivan slowly open up to the possibility of God and eventually find peace, but he also brings up many issues that have always been hard for Christians to deal with, like, “Why would God allow cruelty to children?” and “What shall we do with our Christian freedom?” In a move that has baffled the literary world Jesus's only response is to kiss the Grand Inquisitor and walk away. Here is my humble take on that: Jesus forgives. Even in the face of scorn and rage against Him, He still forgives. I recognize it is a tad bit more complicated than that, but ultimately Christ forgives. Also, on a more human level that is about all we can do as believers. In the face of so much hurt the only response is to love the hurting. We can't reason people out of things sometimes. Sometimes they just need a kiss. Or a hug, if you are more Western minded...like me.
The tragedy of the story is that the kiss burns for a little while in the heart of the Grand Inquisitor, but he never turns from his “old idea.” In the same way Ivan has been touched by Alyosha and by Christ himself, but as far as we can tell, never turns from his “old idea.” ...more