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Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Wisdom and Knowledge

In his journal, Dostoevsky wrote against the notion that societies were formed from the mere "need to live together": "This is not true; rather, it always happened as a result of a great idea" (sou...

Religion

Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov is an extended reflection on religion, specifically Russian Orthodoxy, not only as a guide for individual morality but as a force in human history. Ivan's poetic...

Fate and Free Will

Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov explores the question of free will by presenting and contesting different explanations of human behavior. The novel challenges the notion that in the absence of...

Judgment and Justice

At the center of Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov is the sensational murder of Fyodor Karamazov. With the ensuing trial, the novel questions the possibility of an earthly justice, a notion of j...

Suffering

Dostoevsky's characters in The Brothers Karamazov are put through the wringer. They are tormented by romantic disappointment and financial misfortune, by anxiety and jealousy and pride, by physical...

Guilt and Blame

Our common-sense notion of guilt tells us we should only feel guilt over a specific act that we commit, for which we take responsibility. The Brothers Karamazov works with a much more generalized n...

Isolation

The Brothers Karamazov laments the profound isolation of the individual in 19th-century Russian society. The culprits? The waning influence of the Russian Orthodox Church, the decay of traditional...

Family

Family values? What family values? In his depiction of the Karamazovs, Dostoevsky gives us a seriously dysfunctional clan that seems to undermine every traditional notion of what a family ought to...
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