Ivan’s devil is a representation of Ivan’s desperate desire to believe in God. As my notes indicate, Ivan feels that if the devil exists, then God must also exist. That’s why he says that he would “like to believe” in the devil (645). Of course his devil vexes him by saying that the existence of the devil does not prove the existence of God (637), leaving Ivan again in his quandary. Throughout their conversation, Ivan is struggling to catch the devil making a mistake and revealing that he is simply a figment of Ivan’s imagination. Ivan wants proof that the devil does, or does not, exist. But the question is not resolvable. For only faith can answer Ivan’s most burning question: Does God exist?
Do you not agree with me that this question is the source of his delirium?