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Write a 4-5 page paper analysis of a topic of your choice in Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov. Cite you sources.
Spiritual Revival -- Delving into the essence of Christianity in The Brothers Karamazov Thomas Jankowski In The Brothers Karamazov, each character struggles to come to terms with an unfair, unjust world. Some characters rebel, some accept society as it is, but many of the most significant characters in Dostoevsky’s novels experience profound moments of spirituality, reaffirming their commitment to Christianity, not in a dogmatic or theological sense, but in a spiritual, heroic, and sublime display of holiness. One such moment occurs in the middle of Book Eleven when Alyosha visits Mitya in prison after Mitya is wrongly accused of murdering Fyodor Pavlovich. After discussing ethics and chemistry, Mitya opens his heart to Alyosha, describing how he “found in myself a new man” (Dostoevsky, 499). This new man, Mitya tells Alyosha, is not afraid of spending twenty years in prison, “breaking ore with a hammer,” because God is with him, there in the “underground” (Dostoevsky, 499). The notion of finding redemption within oneself through God in times of great struggle is very characteristic of Dostoevsky and reminiscent of Dostoevsky’s own time in prison. In Fyodor Dostoevsky: A Writer’s Life, Geir Kjetsaa explores Dostoevsky’s own resurrection of spirit and faith in God after he was released from prison, mirroring the “new man” Mitya seems to have found within himself. Dostoevsky also references “the underground,” an interesting choice of words, considering his novel, Notes from Underground. Mining, with its connotations of labor in darkness, represents a physical equivalent to the notion of the psychological underground Dostoevsky explores in Notes from Underground. In Notes from Underground, the underground man is unable to break from the underground -- physically and psychologically, and Dostoevsky suggests the only escape is love, particularly a love for life, something the underground man never finds. Thus, the ideological counter to the underground mentality can only be a profound experience of spirituality and love, like the one Mitya has in prison. “Life,” he tells Alyosha, “is full. There is life even underground” (Dostoevsky, 499). Mitya goes on to describe the conditions of the mines Even there, in the mines, underground, I may find a human heart in another convict … I may make friends with him, for even there one may live and love and suffer … and we men underground will sing from the bowels of the earth a tragic hymn to God, with Whom is joy. Hail to God and His joy! I love Him! (Dostoevsky, 499) Despite the suffering of the world, Mitya can persist because of his love for life and for the joy God has given him. This is reminiscent of the concept of ‘active love’ we discussed in class with Father Gregory; Mitya wants to love his fellow man despite his imperfections and failings. Working in the mines suggests tireless, difficult labor, much like practicing active love, embracing suffering and accepting one’s own pain and the pain of others in a christ-like way. Though Mitya is not responsible for the death of his father, he accepts responsibility for the damage his actions have caused, something his brother Ivan has yet to do. Not only does Mitya accept his suffering, but he extends his love in a beautiful, final sentence to Alyosha, “Love Ivan” (Dostoevsky, 504). Despite his pain and the hopelessness of his position, Mitya still loves Ivan, who Mitya has never been able to understand, perhaps a metaphor for Mitya’s ability to come to terms with a world he does not need to understand to love. Unlike Alyosha or Mitya, Ivan has not yet come to terms with the consequences of his actions and ideas. Ironically, Ivan may be the most intelligent of the brothers Karamazov, but he is the least spiritual and seems to be the least stable. When Alyosha asks Mitya about the origins of Ivan’s plan, Mitya tells his brother, “He insists … he doesn’t ask me, but orders me … He wants it to the point of hysterics” (Dostoevsky, 503). Ivan, who is tormented by the consequences of his ideas, cannot process that he is somewhat, if not fully, responsible for Mitya’s imprisonment. To right this wrong, Ivan takes it upon himself to break Mitya from prison, allowing Mitya to escape suffering and allowing Ivan to escape responsibility for the ramifications of his rebellion. Unlike his brothers, Ivan has not (yet) had a moment of spiritual reckoning and still sees God as an unjust figure who created a world he cannot accept. Ironically, Mitya calls Ivan, “a sphinx and silent; he is always silent,” but if Ivan was truly silent about his beliefs (with Smerdyakov) Mitya would not be in prison (Dostoevsky, 500). Though Ivan is not with Mitya and Alyosha during this conversation, his presence hangs over the brothers like a specter or a sphinx, a mysterious and potentially destructive force rarely physically present but always there in some capacity. “Ivan,” Mitya tells Alyosha, “has no God. He has an idea” (Dostoevsky, 500). Again Dostoevsky presents Ivan as an almost ephemeral influence on the novel, a man who has no God and therefore is not fully a man. At the end of “A Hymn and a Secret,” Ivan tests Mitya’s ‘new man’ in the form of an escape -- a chance for Mitya to leave prison, leave the mines before he reaches them, and be reunited with Grushenka, the love of his life. Mitya, after experiencing a profound moment of spirituality, wavers between taking Ivan’s offer and staying in prison, in doing so accepting the suffering he feels he deserves. Interestingly, Ivan tells Mitya specifically not to tell Alyosha about the escape plan, in all likelihood fearing that Alyosha would dissuade Mitya from going through with it, acting “before [Mitya] as [his] conscience” (Dostoevsky, 503). However, before one categorizes Alyosha as a man with a perfect conscience, one should examine his moment of spirituality in Book Seven, Chapter Four, “Cana of Galilee.” Like his brother, Alyosha also has a profound spiritual awakening -- overcoming his disappointment that Father Zosima’s corpse smelled. Like Mitya, Alyosha faces his disillusionment with the world, but ultimately embraces the earth. Dostoevsky writes, his soul, overflowing with rapture, yearned for freedom … Alyosha stood, gazed, and suddenly threw himself down on the earth … vowed to love it, to love it forever and ever … He had fallen on the earth a weak youth, but he rose up a resolute champion … ‘Someone visited my soul in that hour,’ he used to say … with implicit faith in his words. (Dostoevsky, 311-12) In this scene, Alyosha feels the joy of life, his soul unburdened by the expectation of a miracle for his beloved Father Zosima. Alyosha fully realizes the story of the Cana of Galilee, where Jesus brings the people wine not to prove his power, but to bring men the joy of life; “There’s no living without joy,” as Mitya says (Dostoevsky, 310). In the context of the novel, this moment is particularly significant for Alyosha because unlike Mitya, Alyosha already was a devout Christian before this transformation, suggesting that true faith can be found outside the confines of the scripture, in moments of love not for theological Christianity, but for the earth and life itself. Dostoevsky shows that even Alyosha, arguably already a champion of faith, can still be tested and doubt about his faith. Thus far, arguably, the greatest test of Alyosha’s faith is not Ivan’s overwhelming criticism of Christianity through his rebellion or the story of the Grand Inquisitor, but an explicit fact of the world -- Father Zosima’s corpse smelled days after he died. Somehow, Alyosha can refute Ivan’s logic-based arguments, but he cannot refute a smell. Thus, his vow to love the earth, despite its shortcomings, carries even more weight, because he accepts the world as it is, not as he wants it to be, again reminiscent of Father Zosima’s active love. Such moments of spiritual revival are reminiscent of another of Dostoevsky’s novels, Crime and Punishment, where the protagonist, Raskolnikov, has a moment of transcendence when he decides to turn himself in. In a moment similar to Alyosha and Mitya’s profound spiritual experiences, Raskolnikov allows a “new” sensation to overwhelm him and he “fell to the earth on the spot … bowed down to the earth and kissed that filthy earth with bliss and rapture” (Dostoevsky, 413). After finally allowing God to suffuse his spirit and accepting his punishment for the crime of murdering his landlady, Raskolnikov finds peace and experiences a moment of rapture akin to Mitya and Alyosha, though in many ways Raskolnikov is more similar to Ivan, making Ivan’s lack of a spiritual moment all the more telling. While Raskolnikov was ultimately able to overcome his hubris, Ivan has not yet been able to do so, foreshadowing his eventual demise. Ultimately, these profound experiences of spirituality make The Brothers Karamazov all the more compelling, as Dostoevsky attempts to show readers the power of sublime, holy moments and how they can allow people to love and live in a moral way. This theme is clearly important to Dostoevsky, who explores it time and time again in his novels, including Notes from Underground, Crime and Punishment, and, of course, The Brothers Karamazov, each time getting closer and closer to uncovering some explanation for an experience that ultimately cannot be explained. Bibliography Dostoevsky, Fyodor. Crime and Punishment. Dover Thrift Edition. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications., n.d. Dostoevsky, Fyodor. Notes from Underground. 2nd ed. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., n.d. Dostoevsky, Fyodor. The Brothers Karamazov. 2nd ed. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., n.d. Kjetsaa, Geir, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, a Writer's Life. New York: Viking, 1987.
The most important themes in literature are sometimes developed in scenes where a death or death takes place. Using The Great Gatsby, write a well-organized paragraph in which you show how a specific death scene helps illuminate the meaning of the work as a whole.
Someone once said, "Nothing in life is promised except death." Death is an omnipresent, symbolic force in nearly every novel, whether it is obvious or not. In F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, death is portrayed as both a blunt instrument power as well as a silent, subtle force that shapes the meaning of The Great Gatsby as a work of literature. To answer this question, I will focus on the death of Jay Gatsby, comping and contrasting it with the death of Myrtle Wilson. While Myrtle Wilson's death is shocking and brutal, Gatsby's demise is almost immaterial. When Myrtle Wilson is stuck by Daisy's car, Fitzgerald describes how "her life [was] violently extinguished ... as though she had choked a little in giving up the tremendous vitality she had stored so long" (137). Myrtle, a figure full of life and passion, dies in a terrible manner and her body shows it. Fitzgerald takes time to describe Myrtle's wounds to show the destruction and damage caused by Daisy's drunken ignorance. On the other side of the spectrum, Gatsby's death is very light on details, with Fitzgerald only offering the reader a cryptic description of "that ashen, fantastic figure gliding toward him ... The chauffeur ... heard the shots ... the gardener saw Wilson's body a little way off in the grass and the holocaust was complete" (162). When Gatsby dies, Fitzgerald forces the reader to put the pieces together based on his vague hints, rather than spelling out exactly what happened. In doing so, Fitzgerald establishes a dream-like quality to Gatsby, making him seem almost unreal, a person who appears and disappears before anyone can ask too many questions. Myrtle Wilson, by contrast, is a very realistic person living among blue-collar workers whose death causes more action, ironically than Gatsby's death, who almost no one notices. Daisy, a symbol of the careless, callous nature of the wealthy, escapes all punishment while others suffer for her mistakes. This notion of who escapes blame and who does not is a key element of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, and by comparing Gatsby and Myrtle Wilson's death scenes, one can come to a greater understanding of the meaning of the work as a whole.
What is the difference between toward and towards?
Toward is a preposition meaning in the direction of. Towards means the same thing. But, in American English, we use toward and in United Kingdom English, towards is the correct spelling.
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