The action takes place in the provincial town of Skotoprigonjevsk in the 1870s. In the monastery, in the skete of the famous old man Zosima, the famous ascetic and healer, Karamazovs – father Fyodor Pavlovich and sons – the elder Dmitri and the middle Ivan – gather to find out their family property matters. At the same meeting there are also the younger brother of Alyosha, a novice from Zosima, as well as a number of other persons – a relative of Karamazov, a rich landowner and liberal Miusov, a seminarian Rakitin and several clerics. The occasion is Dmitry’s dispute with his father about hereditary relations. Dmitry believes that his father owes him a large sum, although he has no obvious legal rights. Fyodor Pavlovich, a nobleman, a small landowner, a former survivor, wicked and resentful, does not intend to give money to his son, but agrees to meet with Zosima rather out of curiosity. Dmitry’s relationship with his father, who never showed special
concern for his son, are tense not only because of money, but also because of the woman – Grushenka, into which both are passionately in love. Dmitry knows that the lascivious old man has money for her, that he is ready even to marry, if she agrees.
The meeting in the monastery represents almost all the main characters at once. Passionate impetuous Dmitry is capable of reckless acts, in which he himself later repents deeply. Clever, mysterious Ivan is tormented by the question of the existence of God and the immortality of the soul, and also the key question for the novel – is everything permissible or not? If there is immortality, then not everything, but if not, an intelligent person can find a job in this world as he pleases, such is the alternative. Fyodor Pavlovich – a cynic, a voluptuary, a brawler, a comedian, a money-grinder, with all his kind and actions, causes resentment and protest among those around him, including his own sons. Alyosha is a young righteous person, a pure soul, he is rooting for everyone, especially for his brothers.
None of this meeting, except the scandal,
which will follow many more, does not happen. However, the wise and astute elder Zosima, keenly feeling someone else’s pain, finds the word and gesture for each of the participants in the meeting. Before Dmitri, he kneels and bows to the ground, as if foreseeing his future suffering, Ivan answers that the question has not yet been decided in his heart, but if he does not dare in the direction of the positive, he will not dare to go negative and bless him. Fyodor Pavlovitch, he remarks that all his jesting from the fact that he is ashamed of himself. From the tired elder, most of the participants of the meeting, at the invitation of the hegumen, go to the refectory, but there also unexpectedly appears with speeches of the monks and Fyodor Pavlovich. After another scandal, all run up.
The elder after the guests leave blesses Alesha Karamazov for great obedience in the world, punishing him to be close to his brothers. Following the elder’s instructions, Alyosha goes to his father and meets his brother Dmitri, who is hiding in the garden next to his father’s homestead, who is guarding his beloved Grushenka here, if she, seduced by money, still decides to come to Fyodor Pavlovich. Here, in an old gazebo, Dmitry enthusiastically confesses to Alyosha. He, Dmitry, happened to plunge into the deepest shame of debauchery, but in this shame he begins to feel a connection with God, to feel the great joy of life. He, Dmitry, voluptuous insect, like all the Karamazovs, and voluptuousness is a storm, great storms. In it lives the ideal of the Madonna, as well as the ideal of Sodom. Beauty – a terrible thing, says Dmitry, then the devil fights with God, and the battlefield – the hearts of people. Dmitry Alyosha also tells about his relationship with Katerina Ivanovna, a noble maiden, whose father he once saved from shame, having lent him the money that was missing for a report in state money. He suggested that the proud girl herself come to him for money, she appeared, humiliated, ready for anything, but Dmitry behaved like a noble man, gave her this money, without demanding anything in return. Now they are considered a bride and groom, but Dmitri is carried away by Grushenka and even squinted with her at an inn in the village of Mokroe three thousand, given to him by Katerina Ivanovna for sending her to Moscow. He considers this to be his main disgrace and as an honest man he must repay the entire sum. If Grushenka comes to the old man, Dmitry, as he says, will break in and hinder, and if… then he will kill the old man, whom he hates fiercely.
In his father’s house, Alyosha finds Fyodor Pavlovitch and Ivan’s brother, who play with the arguments of the lackey Smerdyakov, the son of a tramp Lizaveta and, according to some suggestions, Fyodor Pavlovich. And soon Dmitry suddenly rushes in, who thought that Grushenka had come. In a rage, he beats his father, but making sure that he is mistaken, runs away. Alyosha is sent at his request to Katerina Ivanovna, where she unexpectedly finds Grushenka. Katerina Ivanovna caresses her affectionately, showing that she has been mistaken, considering her corrupt, and that she is meticulously responding to her. In the end, everything again ends in a scandal: Grushenka, intending to kiss the hand of Katerina Ivanovna, suddenly demonstratively refuses to do this, insulting her opponent and provoking her fury.
The next day Alyosha, after spending the night in a monastery, again goes on mundane affairs – first to his father, where he listens to another confession, now Fyodor Pavlovich, who complains about his sons, but about money says that they need him, because he is still after all, a man wants to be on this line for another twenty years, that he wants to live up to the end and Grushenka will not give in to Dmitry. Gossip he Alyosha and about Ivan, that he fights off Dmitry’s bride, because he himself is in love with Katerina Ivanovna.
On the way, Alyosha sees school children throwing stones at a small lonely boy. When Alyosha comes to him, he first throws a stone at him, and then painfully bites his finger. This boy is the son of Captain Snegirev, who was recently humiliated dragged out of a tavern by a beard and beaten by Dmitry Karamazov for having had some bills with Fedor Pavlovich and Grushenka.
In the house of Khokhlakova, Alyosha finds Ivan and Katerina Ivanovna and witnesses another tear: Katerina Ivanovna explains that she will be faithful to Dmitry, will be a “means for his happiness,” and asks Alyosha’s opinion, which simply declares that she does not like Dmitri at all, but only assured herself of this. Ivan says that he leaves for a long time, because he does not want to sit “beside the tear”, and adds that she needs Dmitry to contemplate her feat of fidelity and reproach him for infidelity.
With two hundred rubles, given to him by Katerina Ivanovna for the injured at the hands of Dmitry Staff-Captain Snegirev, Alyosha goes to him. At first, the captain, the father of a large family living in extreme poverty and disease, makes a fool, and then, after feeling deeply, confesses to Alyosha. He takes money from him and imagines what he can do now.
Then Alyosha visits Madame Hohlakov again and mentally talks to her daughter Lisa, a painful and expansive girl who wrote to him recently about her love and decided that Alyosha must marry her without fail. After a short time she confesses to Alyosha that she would like to be tortured – for example, that they marry her and then abandon her. She describes to him the terrible scene of torture of a crucified child, imagining that she did it herself, and then sat down opposite and began to eat pineapple compote, “Besyonok” – Ivan Karamazov will name it.
Alyosha goes to the tavern, where, as he knows, there is Brother Ivan. In the tavern one of the key scenes of the novel takes place – a meeting of two “Russian boys” who, if they converge, they immediately start talking about the world’s eternal questions. God and immortality are one of them. Ivan reveals his secret, responding to an unasked, but extremely interesting question for Alyosha, “what do you believe?”.
In him, Ivan, there is Karamazov’s thirst for life, he loves life contrary to logic, he has expensive sticky spring leaves. And he does not accept God, but the world of God, full of immeasurable suffering. He refuses to agree with the harmony, at the base of which is the teardrop of a child. He lays Alesha “facts”, which testify to the glaring human cruelty and childish suffering. Ivan retells to Alyosha his poem The Great Inquisitor, whose action takes place in the sixteenth century in the Spanish city of Seville. The ninety-year-old cardinal imprisons the second time Christ descended to the earth and during the night meeting expounds to Him his view of mankind. He is convinced that Christ idealized him and that it is unworthy of freedom. The choice between good and evil is the flour for man. The Grand Inquisitor and his companions decide to correct the work of Christ – to overcome freedom and to arrange human happiness by themselves, turning mankind into an obedient herd. They take upon themselves the right to dispose of human life. The inquisitor waits for a response from Christ, but he only silently kisses him.
After parting with Alyosha, Ivan on the way home meets Smerdyakov, and between them there is a decisive conversation. Smerdyakov advises Ivan to go to the village of Chermashnya, where the old man sells a grove, he hints that anything can happen to him in his absence with Fedor Pavlovich. Ivan is pissed off with sardonic impudence, but at the same time he is intrigued. He realizes that much depends on his decision now. He decides to go, although on the way he changes the route and goes not to Chermashnya, but to Moscow.
Meanwhile, the elder Zosima dies. Everyone is waiting for the miracle of the righteous after the death of a righteous man, and instead a smell of decay appears very soon, which produces confusion in the souls. Alyosha is embarrassed. In this mood, he leaves the monastery, accompanied by a seminarian-atheist Rakitin, an intriguer and envious person, who leads him to the house to Grushenka. They find the hostess in anxious expectation of some news. Pleased with the arrival of Alyosha, she at first behaves like a flirt, sits down on his knees, but when she learns about Zosima’s death, she changes dramatically. In response to Aleshin warm words and the fact that he calls her a sinful sister, Grushenka thaws with her heart and dedicates it to her torment. She waits for news from her “former”, who once seduced her and left her. For many years she cherished the idea of revenge, and now she is ready to crawl like a dog. And indeed,
Alyosha, pacified, returns to the monastery, prays near the tomb of Zosima, listens to the reading by the father of Paisius of the Gospel about marriage in Cana of Galilee, and the old man who smiles at him thinks that he praises him for Grushenka. Alyosha’s heart becomes more and more filled with ecstasy. When he wakes up, he comes out of the cell, sees the stars, the golden heads of the cathedral, and falls into a joyful frenzy on the ground, embraces and kisses her, touching the other worlds with his soul. Forgive him, he wants everyone and ask forgiveness from all. Something firm and unshakable enters his heart, transforming him.
At this time, Dmitry Karamazov, tormented by jealousy towards his father because of Grushenka, rushes in search of money. He wants to take her away and start with her somewhere a virtuous life. He needs money to repay the debt to Katerina Ivanovna. He goes to the patron of Grushenka, the wealthy merchant Kuzma Samsonov, offering for three thousand his dubious rights to Chermashnya, and the latter mockingly sends him to the merchant Gorstkin, who is trading with Fyodor Pavlovich grove. Dmitry rushes to Gorstkin, finds him asleep, looks after him all night, almost pimped, and in the morning, after awakening after a brief oblivion, finds the peasant hopelessly drunk. In desperation Dmitry goes to Hohlakova to lend money, the same one tries to inspire him with the idea of gold mines.
Having lost time, Dmitry realizes that maybe he missed Grushenka, and, not finding her at home, sneaks to her father’s house. He sees his father alone, waiting, but doubt does not leave him, so he produces a secret knock, which Smerdyakov taught him, and, making sure that Grushenka does not, runs away. At that moment, the valet, Fyodor Pavlovich Grigory, who stepped out on the porch of his house, notices him. He rushes after him and overtakes him when he climbs over the fence. Dmitry beats him with a pestle grabbed in Grushenka’s house. Grigory falls, Dmitry jumps to him to see if he’s alive, and wipes his bloody head with a handkerchief.
Then he again runs to Grushenka and already there he reaches out from the maid of truth. Dmitry with suddenly found himself in his hands a bundle of hundred-ruble banknotes sent to the official Perhotin, who just recently for ten rubles laid down his guns to redeem them. Here he sorts himself out a little, although all his appearance, blood on his hands and clothes, and also enigmatic words arouse Suschat’s suspicions. In the next shop Dmitry orders champagne and other dishes, ordering them to be delivered to the Wet. And he himself, without waiting, jumps there on the top three.
At the inn he finds Grushenka, two Poles, a handsome young man Kalganov and landowner Maximov, entertaining everyone with his buffoonery. Grushenka meets Dmitry with fright, but then rejoices at his arrival. He is timid and fawning before her and in front of everyone present. The conversation is not glued, then the party is put on cards. Dmitry begins to lose, and then, seeing the burning eyes of the gambling panes, offers the “former” money, so that he backs off from Grushenka. Suddenly it is found that the Poles have changed the deck and play a game of muhljuyut. They are taken out and locked in a room, festivities begin – feasts, songs, dances… Grushenka, drunk, suddenly realizes that only Dmitrii loves and is now connected with him forever.
Soon, a police officer, an investigator and a prosecutor appear in the Mokr. Dmitry is accused of parricide. He is amazed, because only his servant Grigory’s blood is on his conscience, and when he is informed that the servant is alive, he is very enthusiastic and readily answers questions. It turns out that not all of Katerina Ivanovna’s money was spent by him, but only a part, the rest was sewn into a bag that Dmitry wore on his chest. This was his “great secret.” In that was a shame for him, romance in the soul, showing some circumspection and even prudence. It is this confession that is given to him with the greatest difficulty. The investigator can not understand this at all, and other facts testify against Dmitry.
In a dream Mitya sees a child crying in the fog in the fog of a haggard woman, he all tries to find out why it cries, why they do not feed him, why the bare steppe and why they do not sing joyful songs.
The great, never-past tenderness rises in him, and he wants to do something, I want to live and live, and to go “to a new calling light.”
Soon it turns out that Fyodor Pavlovich killed the lackey Smerdyakov, who pretended to be a broken paduchi. Just at the moment when old Grigory was unconscious, he went out and, beckoning Fyodor Pavlovich Grushenka, forced to unlock the door, hit the paperweight several times on the head and took from the place known only to him the fatal three thousand. Now the really sick Smerdyakov himself tells about everything that Ivan Karamazov, the mastermind of the crime, visited him. After all, it was his idea of permissiveness that made an indelible impression on Smerdyakov. Ivan does not want to admit that the crime was committed with his secret consent and with his connivance, but the guilt of conscience is so strong that he is going crazy. He sees a devil, such a Russian gentleman in checkered pantaloons and with a lorgnette, who mockingly expresses Ivan’s own thoughts, and he tortures him, is God or not. During the last meeting with Smerdyakov, Ivan says that he admits everything in the upcoming court, and the one, distraught at the sight of the lack of confidence, so much for him, Ivan, gives him money, and then hangs up.
Katerina Ivanovna, along with Ivan Fedorovich, are building plans for Dmitry’s escape to America. However, between her and Grushenka continued rivalry, Katerina Ivanovna is not yet sure how she will speak at the trial – the beneficiary or the destroyer of her former bridegroom. Dmitriy during the meeting with Alyosha expresses his desire and willingness to suffer and to be purified by suffering. The trial begins with a poll of witnesses. Evidence of the pros and cons at first do not form a clear picture, but, rather, all the same in favor of Dmitry. It strikes all the performance of Ivan Fedorovich, who after painful hesitation informs the court that he killed the hanged Smerdyakov, and in confirmation lays out a bundle of money received from him. Smerdyakov killed, he says, and I taught. He raves in a fever, blaming everyone, forcing him away by force, but immediately after this begins the hysteria of Katerina Ivanovna. She submits to court a document of “mathematical” importance – the letter of Dmitry received on the eve of the crime, where he threatens to kill his father and take money. This indication is decisive. Katerina Ivanovna is ruining Dmitry to save Ivan.
Then the local prosecutor and the famous Moscow lawyer Fetyukovich speak brightly, eloquently and in detail. Both cleverly and subtly discuss, draw a picture of the Russian Karamazov, perceptively analyze the social and psychological causes of the crime, convincing that circumstances, atmosphere, environment and a low father who is worse than someone else’s offender could not help pushing him. Both conclude that Dmitry is a murderer, though involuntary. The jury recognizes Dmitry as guilty. Dmitry condemned.
After the trial, Dmitry falls ill with a nervous fever. Katerina Ivanovna comes to him and confesses that Dmitry will forever remain a plague in her heart. And that though she loves another, and he is different, all the same she and him, Dmitry, will love forever. And he punishes himself for all his life. With Grushenka they still remain uncompromising enemies, although Katerina Ivanovna reluctantly and asks for that forgiveness.
The novel ends with the funeral of Ilyushenka Snegirev, the son of Captain Snegirev. Alyosha Karamazov calls the boys who were gathered at the grave with whom he made friends, visiting Ilyusha during his illness, being kind, honest, never forgetting each other and not being afraid of life, because life is beautiful when good and truth is done.