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The Brothers Karamazov

The Brothers Karamazov


by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Agrafena (Grushenka) Alexandrovna Svetlov

Character Analysis

Unlike Katerina, Grushenka is adept at manipulating men. After suffering heartbreak as a teenager, she falls under the patronage of Samsonov, a wealthy businessman who helps her set up her own lending business. While it is rumored that she is Samsonov's mistress, Grushenka fiercely denies any sexual involvement. Described as a "typical Russian beauty," Grushenka instantly attracts the attentions of both Dmitri and his father Fyodor and plays them off each other in order, it seems, to get her hands on their money (3.10.30). Both delighted and dismayed by her tricks, Dmitri calls her the "queen of all infernal women" (3.11.15).

While Grushenka is certainly manipulative and conniving, she does exhibit hints, here and there, of a good heart. When Rakitin brings Alyosha to her on a dare, she takes pity on Alyosha and refuses to seduce him. This kernel of goodness doesn't really bear any fruit until she finally embraces her love for Dmitri on the night of his father's death. She seems to lose her seductive curves over the course of Dmitri's trial, but the loss of her physical voluptuousness is compensated by her willingness to sacrifice everything she has to be with Dmitri.