The main characters of Dostoevsky's novel The Brothers Karamazov are, as the title suggests, the members of the Karamazov "family," if it can indeed be called such. The only things that the members of this family share are a name and the "Karamazov curse," a legacy of base impulses and voluptuous lust. References to this tendency towards immorality are sprinkled heavily throughout the novel; phrases such as "a brazen brow and a Karamazov conscience," "voluptuary streak," and "Karamazovian baseness" abound.
Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov, the father of the brothers Karamazov, is the embodiment and the source of this immorality. In him Dostoevsky creates such perversity and depravity that one can feel no positive emotions for the man. His physical appearance--he is "flabby" with "small, suspicious eyes" and a "long, cavernous mouth with puffy lips, behind which could be glimpsed small fragments of black teeth"--accurately reflects his foul, disgusting character. He has no respect for himself; he enjoys playing the part of the shameless "buffoon" for attention, even though the attention he receives is negative.
Because he has no respect for himself, he can have no respect for others, either. He has no respect for women, for example; he is a despicable "voluptuary," and he satisfies his lust at any cost. He drives his wife to madness by bringing "women of ill-repute" into their house right in front of her. Even more shockingly, he rapes a mentally retarded woman, who later dies giving birth to his illegitimate son, Smerdyakov, who grows up as his father's servant.
Fyodor is even more blatantly disrespectful to his three legitimate children. After his wife's death, he abandons them, for they "would have been a hindrance to his debaucheries." He is never a true father to any of them. When his oldest son, Dmitry, becomes an...