Ivan’s devil is a reflection of his own self-loathing. Again and again Ivan says, “You are a lie, you are my illness, you are a ghost… You precisely say what I already think… and you’re not capable in telling me anything new” (637 – 638). Because the devil is Ivan, we should take a closer look at him.
Ivan’s devil is petty. He is clever. He enjoys the suffering of others. (Note the pleasure he got out of raising the stench out of Zosima – 638). And yet, he also “sincerely loves people” (638). His dream is “to become incarnate…in some fat, two-hundred-and-fifty-pound merchant’s wife, and to believe everything that she believes” (639). He wants to go into a church and light a candle with a pure heart. In short, he wants simple faith – just like Ivan!
Gentlemen, is this hallucination anything but a reflection of this young man’s character?