The Brothers Karamazov

The Brothers Karamazov


Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov

The patriarch of the Karamazov clan, Fyodor is the father of Dmitri, Ivan, and Alexei and the probable father of his “lackey,” Smerdyakov. He starts out poor but later becomes a “very… read analysis of Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov

Alexei “Alyosha” Fyodorovich Karamazov

Also frequently referred to as “Alyoshka,” Alexei is the youngest and third son of Fyodor Pavlovich and Sofia Ivanovna, the younger brother of Dmitri and Ivan, and the probable half-brother of Smerdyakovread analysis of Alexei “Alyosha” Fyodorovich Karamazov

Lieutenant Dmitri “Mitya” Fyodorovich Karamazov

Also frequently referred to as “Mitenka,” Dmitri is the eldest son of Fyodor Pavlovich and Adelaida Ivanovna, the cousin of Pyotr Alexandrovich Miusov, the eldest brother of Ivan and Alexei, and the… read analysis of Lieutenant Dmitri “Mitya” Fyodorovich Karamazov

Ivan Fyodorovich Karamazov

Sometimes referred to as “Vanechka,” Ivan is the second son of Fyodor Karamazov and Sofia Ivanovna, the younger brother of Dmitri, the elder brother of Alexei, and the probable half-brother of Smerdyakovread analysis of Ivan Fyodorovich Karamazov

Pavel Fyodorovich Smerdyakov

The probable son of Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov and the local “holy fool,” Lizaveta Smerdyashchaya, nicknamed “Stinking Lizaveta.” He is the probable half-brother of Dmitri, Ivan, and Alexei. His name, which means… read analysis of Pavel Fyodorovich Smerdyakov
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Zosima, the Elder

Named Zinovy before he became a monk and sometimes called “Zosimov,” Zosima is Alexei Fyodorovich’s spiritual guide and the most revered elder at the monastery to which Alexei belongs. When Zosima is introduced into… read analysis of Zosima, the Elder

Agrafena “Grushenka” Alexandrovna Svetlov

The twenty-two-year-old kept woman of her “patron,” Kuzma Kuzmich Samsonov. She lives in the house that belongs to the dead merchant Morozov’s widow. She is Rakitin’s cousin, due to their mothers being sisters… read analysis of Agrafena “Grushenka” Alexandrovna Svetlov

Mikhail Osipovich “Misha” Rakitin

Alexei Fyodorovich’s supposed friend who soon exhibits his envy of Alexei’s Christian faith. The two eventually discontinue their friendship after he plots with Grushenka to corrupt Alexei in exchange for her bribe of twenty-five… read analysis of Mikhail Osipovich “Misha” Rakitin

Katerina “Katya” Ivanovna Verkhovtsev

An old colonel’s second daughter with his second wife. She is the younger sister of Agafya Ivanovna. Katerina falls in love with Dmitri Fyodorovich soon after offering herself to him in exchange for the… read analysis of Katerina “Katya” Ivanovna Verkhovtsev


Nicknamed “Ilyushechka” and “Ilyushka,” Ilyusha is the son of Nikolai Ilyich Snegiryov and Arina Petrovna, and brother to Nina and Varvara. Alexei Fyodorovich meets nine-year-old Ilyusha when six schoolboys, including Smurov, corner… read analysis of Ilyusha

Nikolai “Kolya” Ivanov Krasotkin

The thirteen-year-old son of Anna Fyodorovna Krasotkin and the provincial secretary Krasotkin, who died "almost fourteen years before"—that is, before Kolya was born. Kolya is a prankster who enjoys causing trouble everywhere he goes. He… read analysis of Nikolai “Kolya” Ivanov Krasotkin

Lizaveta Smerdyashchaya (“Stinking Lizaveta”)

Nicknamed “Stinking Lizaveta,” Lizaveta is “a holy fool” and a mute. The mother of Smerdyakov, Lizaveta (who has no surname) is described as having been very short—“a wee bit under five feet”—with a “healthy… read analysis of Lizaveta Smerdyashchaya (“Stinking Lizaveta”)

Pyotr Alexandrovich Miusov

Adelaida Ivanovna’s cousin. When the novel begins, he is fifty years old. He is “enlightened” and sophisticated and considers himself “a lifelong European.” He is a liberal who has lived in Paris. In Russia… read analysis of Pyotr Alexandrovich Miusov

Adelaida Ivanovna

Fyodor Pavlovich’s first wife, the mother of Dmitri Fyodorovich, and the cousin of Pyotr Alexandrovich Miusov. She belonged to the wealthy and aristocratic Miusov family. Adelaida is beautiful and has a dowry… read analysis of Adelaida Ivanovna

Sofia Ivanovna

Nicknamed “the shrieker” by Fyodor Pavlovich, Sofia is Fyodor’s second wife and the mother of Ivan and Alexei. She was very young when Fyodor married her and was previously in the charge of… read analysis of Sofia Ivanovna


A visitor to the monastery who seeks the elder Zosima’s, blessing. She is “not at all old yet but very thin and haggard, with a face not tanned but […] blackened.” She has given… read analysis of Nastasia

Madame Prokhorovna

The widow of a noncommissioned officer. She is “a very old little old lady” who dresses “in town fashion.” She has a son, Vasenka, who “had served somewhere in the army commissariat and then gone… read analysis of Madame Prokhorovna

Grigory Vasilievich Kutuzov

Fyodor Pavlovich’s faithful servant who raised Dmitri Fyodorovich from the age of three. He is married to Marfa Ignatievna. He detested Fyodor’s first wife, Adelaida Ivanovna, but defended the honor of his… read analysis of Grigory Vasilievich Kutuzov

Yefim Petrovich Polenov

The provincial marshal of nobility. He is described as a generous and humane man who managed Ivan Fyodorovich and Alexei Fyodorovich’s inheritance of one thousand roubles each, bestowed by General Vorokhov’s widow. Within… read analysis of Yefim Petrovich Polenov

General Vorokhov’s Widow

An aristocratic old lady who is described as Sofia Ivanovna’s former “benefactress, mistress, and tormentress.” She has violent tendencies and later beats up both Fyodor Pavlovich and Grigory Vasilievich when she visits Fyodor’s home… read analysis of General Vorokhov’s Widow

Pyotr Fomich Kalganov

Also known as “Petrushka,” he is the nephew of Pyotr Alexandrovich Miusov. He is twenty years old, stylish, and handsome “with a very sweet, pale face” and “beautiful, thick, light brown hair.” Dreamy and… read analysis of Pyotr Fomich Kalganov


The elder who preceded Zosima, the Elder at the monastery. He is rumored to have beaten with a stick the visiting women who hoped for miracles. The little monk who escorts Pyotr Miusov and the… read analysis of Varsonofy

Madame Katerina Osipovna Khokhlakov

The devout mother of Lise. She is a wealthy woman and is always tastefully dressed. She is still “fairly young and quite attractive”—in fact, she is no more than thirty-three years old and has… read analysis of Madame Katerina Osipovna Khokhlakov


Named Liza, she is the daughter of Madame Khokhlakov and is usually referred to by the French variation of her name, Lise. She is fourteen years old when the novel begins and has suffered from… read analysis of Lise

Kuzma Kuzmich Samsonov

Grushenka’s patron. He is an old shopkeeper and “a profligate peasant.” He is also the mayor of Skotoprigonyevsk—the town in which the Karamazovs live. As the result of an illness, he lost the use… read analysis of Kuzma Kuzmich Samsonov


Often called “Gorstkin,” because he takes “bitter offense” at the nickname Lyagavy, which means “bird dog.” The peasant trader in the blue coat buys timber land. Both Fyodor Pavlovich and Dmitri Fyodorovich seek him out… read analysis of Lyagavy

Agafya Ivanovna

The older sister of Katerina Ivanovna and the old colonel’s eldest daughter born to his first wife. She is described as “simple and pert.” She is attractive, in the “Russian taste”—that is, “tall, buxom, full-figured… read analysis of Agafya Ivanovna

Captain Nikolai Ilyich Snegiryov

The old captain and father of two daughters, Varvara Nikolaevna and Nina Nikolaevna, and one son, Ilyusha. The captain is married to a “half-witted” woman named Arina Petrovna. Katerina Ivanovna sends Alexei… read analysis of Captain Nikolai Ilyich Snegiryov

Brother Anfim

Also referred to as “Father Anfim,” he is a simple monk from the poorest peasantry. He is quite old and “all but illiterate, quiet and taciturn, rarely speaking to anyone.” He is “the humblest of… read analysis of Brother Anfim


The older brother of Zosima. He was eight years older than his brother, who was called Zinovy in childhood. As a boy, Markel was “hot-tempered and irritable by nature, but kind, not given to… read analysis of Markel

Ippolit Kirillovich

The deputy prosecutor, usually referred to simply as “the prosecutor.” He has no surname and is married to “a rather fat and childless lady. When he arrives to arrest Dmitri Fyodorovich, he is described… read analysis of Ippolit Kirillovich


Dmitri Fyodorovich’s famous defense attorney from St. Petersburg. Katerina Ivanovna, Alexei Fyodorovich, and Ivan Fyodorovich have each contributed to the attorney’s three thousand rouble fee for Dmitri’s defense. Dmitri says that Fetyukovich… read analysis of Fetyukovich


The local doctor of German descent who treats Ilyusha for tuberculosis by “[stuffing] him full of medications,” which doesn’t improve the boy’s condition. He is “an old man of seventy, gray-haired and bald, of medium… read analysis of Herzenstube

Trifon “Borisich” Borisovich

The innkeeper at Plastunov’s inn in Mokroye. He is also called “Trifon Borisich.” He is described as “a thickset and robust man of medium height, with a somewhat fleshy face.” He is a snobby and… read analysis of Trifon “Borisich” Borisovich

The Panie

Polish for “sirs” or “gentlemen,” the panie are two Polish officers with whom Grushenka and Kalganov are keeping company at Plastunov’s inn when Dmitri Fyodorovich arrives. One is short, “plumpish,” and “broad-faced.” He is Pan… read analysis of The Panie

The Gentleman

A visitor who appears to Ivan Fyodorovich during a nightmare when the latter is “on the verge of brain fever,” or madness. The gentleman, who is actually Satan, is described as “a certain type of… read analysis of The Gentleman

The Cardinal Grand Inquisitor

The title character in Ivan's poem, "The Grand Inquisitor," which he narrates to Alexei in the tavern. The Inquisitor is a nearly ninety-year-old man and the head clergyman in Seville, Spain, during the sixteenth… read analysis of The Cardinal Grand Inquisitor

The Presiding Judge

A practical, “educated and humane man” with “the most modern ideas.” He is vain but not overly concerned with career advancement, due to being wealthy and having connections. What is most important to him is… read analysis of The Presiding Judge

Mikhail “Makarich” Makarovich Makarov

The district police commissioner who arrests Dmitri Fyodorovich for killing his father, Fyodor Pavlovich. He is a retired lieutenant colonel who has been re-designated as a state councilor. He is a widower who lives… read analysis of Mikhail “Makarich” Makarovich Makarov

Maria Kondratievna

The landlord’s daughter, who has no surname and lives next door to Fyodor Pavlovich. After Fyodor’s death, she moves into “a tiny, lopsided log-house.” She used to get soup in Fyodor’s kitchen and listen… read analysis of Maria Kondratievna

Marfa Ignatievna

Grigory Vasilievich’s wife. She is a fellow servant on the Karamazov property. She has submitted to her husband’s will all her life, but she pesters him “terribly” when she wants something, such as when… read analysis of Marfa Ignatievna

Pyotr Ilyich Perkhotin

The young official to whom Dmitri Fyodorovich pawned his pistols in order to obtain the three thousand roubles that he believes he needs to pay off a debt to Katerina Ivanovna and then start a… read analysis of Pyotr Ilyich Perkhotin


Zosima’s former orderly during his youth, before he entered the monastery. In a fit of anger, he once beat Afanasy but quickly begged for forgiveness. He later reunites with Afanasy by chance “in the… read analysis of Afanasy


Kolya Krasotkin’s world history teacher who stands up for Kolya when he gets in trouble with the other instructors, even after the boy shows him up during class by demanding that the instructor tell… read analysis of Dardanelov
Minor Characters
Father Mikhail
The superior of the hermitage. He is “not yet a very old man.” He is uneducated and “of humble origin,” but “firm in spirit, with inviolable and simple faith.” He has a stern appearance and often conceals his tender-heartedness, as though he is ashamed of it.
Father Pavel Ilyinsky
The priest with whom Lyagavy was living before moving on to Sukhoy Possyolok for another timber deal. Father Ilyinsky takes Dmitri Fyodorovich to meet with Lyagavy at his new location.
Mavriky “Mavrikich” Mavrikievich Shmertsov
The deputy commissioner who drives Dmitri Fyodorovich into town to his prison cell. He is described as “a squat, thickset man with a flabby face.”
Fedosya “Fenya” Markovna
Grushenka’s maid. When Dmitri Fyodorovich enters her home in a frenzy, looking for Grushenka, Fenya begs for her mistress’s life, worried that he may kill her. It is her pestle that Dmitri seizes before leaving her cottage to go meet with Perkhotin.
A landowner around sixty years of age, who is also called “Maximushka.” He becomes homeless, as well as “obviously ill and weak,” and ends up living with Grushenka at the widow Morozov’s house.
Father Ferapont
A clergyman who “intensely disliked Father Zosima.” He rarely leaves his little wooden cell in the apiary and does not go to church “for long stretches of time.”
Anna Fyodorovna Krasotkin’s maid. She is overweight, pockmarked, and around forty years old. She and Kolya Krasotkin have a contentious relationship and they often exchange insults.
Anna Fyodorovna Krasotkin
Often referred to as “Mrs. Krasotkin,” Anna is a widow who rents out rooms in her house to a doctor’s wife and the woman’s two children, Kostya and Nastya. She is the mother of Kolya Krasotkin.
The son of the doctor’s wife and the younger brother of Nastya. He is seven years old.
The daughter of the doctor’s wife and the older sister of Kostya. She is eight years old.
One of the group of boys who threw stones at Ilyusha in Alexei Fyodorovich’s presence. He is the ruddy-cheeked eleven-year-old son of a well-to-do official and a friend of Kolya Krasotkin, though his father forbids him to associate with Kolya.
Dmitri Fyodorovich’s coachman. He handles a troika, or trio, of horses that takes Dmitri to Mokroye in pursuit of Grushenka.
Father Iosif
A hieromonk and the librarian at the monastery.
Father Paissy
Known as “the silent and learned hieromonk,” Father Paissy wants the government to be subordinate to the Orthodox Church. He becomes Alexei’s new elder after Zosima dies.
Father Superior
A “tall, lean, but still vigorous old man.” He is “dark-haired with much gray” and has “a long, pious, and important face.” He invites the Karamazovs, Pyotr Alexandrovich Miusov, and Pyotr Fomich Kalganov to dine with him in his apartment at the monastery.
Nikolai Parfenovich Nelyudov
The prosecutor who participates, along with Ippolit Kirillovich, in the interrogation of Dmitri Fyodorovich. He came from the Imperial School of Jurisprudence in St. Petersburg two months before working on the Karamazov case. He is described as a “short young man in spectacles.”
The young district doctor from Moscow. He completed his studies at the Petersburg Medical Academy. He is critical of Dr. Herzenstube’s competence as a doctor.
Semyon Ivanovic Kachalnikov
The justice of the peace in the town of Skotoprigonyevsk.
Arina Petrovna
Captain Snegiryov’s wife and the mother of Ilyusha, Nina Nikolaevna, and Varvara Nikolaevna. She is a simple, “half-witted” woman but also light-hearted and easily amused.
Nina Nikolaevna
Also called “Ninochka,” Nina is Snegiryov and Arina’s daughter, and Ilyusha and Varvara’s sister. She is crippled with a hunchback and is described as quiet and meek.
Varvara Nikolaevna
Snegiryov and Arina’s daughter, and Ilyusha and Nina’s sister. She is an educated young woman who eventually returns to her university in St. Petersburg.