Study Guide

The Brothers Karamazov Book 12, Chapter 3

By Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Book 12, Chapter 3

Medical Expertise and One Pound of Nuts

  • Next three medical experts are called in to weigh in on Dmitri's state of mind: Dr. Herzenstube, the unnamed famous doctor from Moscow, and the young Dr. Varvinsky.
  • Herzenstube goes first. He testifies that he finds Dmitri to be of an "abnormal" state of mind. As confirmation, he oddly states that when Dmitri walked into the courtroom, he should have looked to the left where the women were sitting, since he has a thing for the ladies. Instead he looked straight ahead. That's a convincing argument (not).
  • Next up is the famous doctor. He agrees with Dr. Herzenstube that Dmitri is "abnormal," but he adds that Dmitri has "mania" and is prone to act in a "fit of passion." As if to one-up Herzenstube, the famous doctor claims that Dmitri should have looked to the right when he walked into the courtroom, because that's where his defense attorney was sitting.
  • Finally comes Dr. Varvinsky. He testifies that he believes Dmitri to be completely sane and that it was quite natural for him to look straight ahead as he walked, because that's where the judges were sitting.
  • Dmitri loudly agrees with Dr. Varvinsky.
  • Then Dr. Herzenstube is called up again by the defense and surprises everyone with a sympathetic story about Dmitri. Herzenstube remembers coming across Dmitri as a young child, neglected by his father. He had bought Dmitri a pound of nuts out of charity. Years later, when Dmitri returned to town as a young man, he visited Herzenstube and reminded him of his kindness. Dmitri loudly insists again on his gratitude, and everyone in the court seems impressed.

The Brothers Karamazov Book 12, Chapter 3 Study Group

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