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Ivan Fyodorovich Karamazov A Diabolical Hero

Ivan Fyodorovich Karamazov: A Diabolical Hero? Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky is considered by many to be the pinnacle in a great line of Russian authors who wrote in the 19th century. Gogol, Tolstoy, Lermontov, Pushkin, Chekhov: these writers, like many greats the world round, concerned themselves not only with their art, but with its affect on their society; Gogol, for example, is said to have gone insane while working on his masterpiece, Dead Souls, obsessing himself with the idea that he could bring about the resurrection of his country through his tale. Eventually becoming disillusioned with the task he had set himself, Gogol burnt much ofthe manuscript and renounced all his worldly possessions, going on to lead an ascetic life until his death from starvation. While Dostoyevsky did not go to such extremes, he alsointended to provide a salvation for his country, which he saw was headed down adangerous path. This salvation was to take the form of The Brothers Karamazov and'the Church as a positive social ideal was to constitute the central idea of the new novel...'(xiii)1. Some critics, however, have claimed that while he may have set out to write insupport of the Church, Dostoyevsky ended up writing a novel which in many ways shows'evil' in an attractive, or at least ambiguous, light. For them, Ivan FyodorovichKaramazov is one of the most compelling characters in all literature the world round andthat it is with him and not Alyosha (the 'Saviour' in the novel), that we as readers identifymost strongly. Thus, they claim, by having us identify with the rational, amoral atheism ofIvan, the novel becomes something of a 'diabolodicy' rather than the great defense of God andChurch it was intended to be.But why do we identify with Ivan so strongly when on the surface he seems such an unattractive character? After all, humankind has a long history of trying to excise or annihilate elements that they see as destructive to the whole (in ou...

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