A Discussion of The Grand Inquisitor from 'The Brothers Karamazov' by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Essay by BeDazzled2525University, Bachelor'sA+, April 2004

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The Grand Inquisitor is an adaptation from The Brothers Karamazov, a novel written by Fyodor Dostoevsky. It is a Russian novel, set in 19th century Russia. The Inquisitor, the part of the story that we are dealing with, is a discussion between two of four brothers, Ivan and Alyosha.

Alyosha is the youngest brother, of about twenty years of age. He is preparing to become a monk in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Ivan is older, about thirty years of age. Ivan does not see how Alyosha can believe in a God that permits suffering, and so tells him the story of the Grand Inquisitor to illustrate his point. I find the story very difficult to understand, but I will do my best to explain.

The Grand Inquisitor is a Cardinal in the Church, spreading holy fervor and burning heretics at the stake left and right. Jesus appears on Earth again, not in the final coming, but just a brief trip, and performs some miracles, convincing the people that it is truly Him The Inquisitor, ruthless in his hunt, orders Jesus taken to prison.

That night, the Inquisitor visits Jesus.

The conversation is all the Inquisitor, attacking Jesus and accusing him of stealing the happiness of men by giving them free will. Instead, he says, Jesus should have given man something to worship, given him bread, given him something to live for. The Inquisitor asserts that man is afraid of freedom, and doesn't know how to handle it, that to truly be happy man craves slavery, control, someone to guide them and preside over them. I see it as him saying that Jesus is weak, but wanting humans to be strong and use their free will to come to him. The Inquisitor thinks that Jesus should be strong and force...