Study Guide

The Brothers Karamazov Tone

By Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Ironic, Reflective, Playful, Impassioned

So you're looking at those "Tone" words thinking, how can a novel have so many contradictory tones? Has the novel got multiple-personality disorder? Well, yes and no. The novel aggressively tries to get into everyone's heads, to piece together the way they feel about the world – so aggressively, in fact, that it seems to fall apart under the weight of all of these voices. At the same time, the narrator's attitude emerges from time to time, casting an ironic light on one character's struggles here, a more sympathetic light on another character's view there. Despite these oscillations in attitude, the narrator is so clearly and completely invested in the fate of the characters that we can't help caring about even the most unsympathetic ones.

The Brothers Karamazov Tone Study Group

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