The Brothers Karamazov

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The Second Trial: Grushenka

The Woman-Who-Gave-an-Onion is livid with rage against Grushenka.  She cannot wait to put her on trial.

 

“You should have heard the nonsense going on between that creature and the monk!  She’d had her eyes on him for weeks – she even promised that scum Rikitin that she would pay him to bring the monk around.  And when he does come, she breaks open the champagne and then jumps on his lap like a cat.  She’s practically purring when she finds out that the elder has died – and then she jumps off of the monk and crosses herself.  Themonk calls it a miracle.  A miracle!  Why, she was just scared of the specter of death, that’s all, and like the peasant girl that she is, she crosses herself for protection.  But the monk needs his miracle, and so he says, ‘She spared me, she restored my soul’” (351).

 

The virgin replies softly, “Ah, but you have missed the point.  Grushenka might have done wicked, but she chose goodness instead.  And Alyosha – he might have been tempted by Grushenka, or he might have despised her.  But instead, he faces her with a pure heart.  And that pure heart is the miracle.  Did you really mss the wonder in his words to her? ‘Who am I compared with her? … I came here seeking my own ruin, saying: “Who cared, who cares?”  because of my faint heartedness; but she after five years of torment, as soon as someone comes and speaks a sincere word to her, forgives everything, forgets everything, and weeps!  The many who wronged her has come back, he is calling her, and she forgives him everything, and hastens to him with joy…She is higher in love than we are… there is a treasure in this soul”  (355).

 

The Woman-Who-Gave-an-Onion is nearly choking with rage.  “Higher in love?  The tramp admits to being a ‘wicked bitch.’  She’s only going to her Polish officer because she wants to make him pay.  ‘I tore my heart on purpose, to ease it with spite’ (354). She’s not higher in love; she’s higher in spite.  That’s the great mystery of Agrafena Alexandrovna!”

 

This time, it’s the virgin who turns to meet your eyes.  “What do you say, then?  How do you judge our Grushenka?”

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