Existentialism In The Brother's Karamazov

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The Brother’s Karamazov describes the life of a man, named Fyodor Karamazov, and his four sons. Each son represents a certain worldview which is explored throughout the novel. The oldest son, Dmitri, after arguing with his father over his inheritance, falls in love with a woman named Grushenka. When Fyodor is murdered, and three thousand roubles are stolen from him, the police accuse Dmitri because of his conflict with Fyodor. The Brothers Karamazov describes how three men with contrasting world views discover the corruption of their family and the truth behind a hideous murder.
Existentialism is one worldview which is displayed in The Brother’s Karamazov. Existentialists believe that “life is absurd” and “survival of the fittest.” Ivan and Smerdyakov both view the world as
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Søren Kierkegaard is considered the father of existentialism (“Christian and Theological Existentialism”). Kierkegaard wrote a book about the paradox surrounding Abraham sacrificing Isaac. The narrator questions whether “Abraham’s faith in God can justify killing his son” (Søren Kierkegaard: A Master of Refraction 78). Another existentialist, Karl Jaspers, argues that, “free will makes all faith essentially existential. Jaspers also argues that, since life is absurd, it is less absurd to believe in a God which promises eternal life than to believe in nothing at all (“Christian and Theological Existentialism”).
Dostoyevsky uses two contrasting chapters to argue against atheistic existentialism. The Grand Inquisitor is a story written by Ivan Karamazov. In the story, Jesus visits the Spanish Inquisition, but the religious leaders do not want Him there. They claim that they already have freedom, and that His return will take the freedom away. The chapter reveals Ivan’s belief that the church is just a cult which thrives off of the weak, and it explains how incredibly boring a sinless world would
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