The Brothers Karamazov

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Doctor #3

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?

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