The Brothers Karamazov

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Maximov at the Gates

I don’t understand Fyodor Karamazov.  What was he hoping to accomplish here?  Was he hoping to resolve the matter with his son?  And if not, why did he come?  He behaved like a complete buffoon.  And yet, the greater mystery to me was the Elder’s response to him.  The Elder was patient with him, treating him like a child, providing him with the most tender advice.  Still, that advice confused me. On the one hand, he told Fyodor that his shame was the cause of everything (43).  And the buffoon ate that up.  He admitted that he acts like an imbecile precisely because he is ashamed of himself, and that this shame is the root of his evil.


But then, the elder tells him that, on the contrary, his lies are the source of all of his despair.  Let me see if I can quote the elder correctly.  He said, “Above all, do not lie to yourself.  A man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point where he does not discern any truth either in himself or anywhere around him, and thus falls into disrespect towards himself and others.  Not respecting anyone, he ceases to love, and having no love, he gives himself up to passions and course pleasures, in order to occupy and amuse himself, and in his vices reaches complete bestiality, and it all comes from lying continually to others and to himself…” (44).  I feel great wisdom in these ideas, but I wonder how it all applies to that decrepit old lecher and his three lost sons…?

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Category:02. Monastery