The Brothers Karamazov

The Brothers Karamazov

by

Fyodor Dostoevsky

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The Brothers Karamazov: Part 1: Book 3, Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Alexei asks if Dmitri is still Katerina Ivanovna’s fiancé. Dmitri says that he became her fiancé three months after the events that he just recounted. The day after her visit, Katerina’s maid came and handed him an envelope containing the change from the five-thousand-rouble bank note. He went on a spree with the money, leading him to be reprimanded by the new major. The old colonel returned the missing government funds, then lay sick in bed for three weeks before getting “a softening of the brain” and dying in five days.
Katerina honorably returns the money that she didn’t need. Dmitri spends what she returns on alcohol, specialty foods, and women—his usual indulgences during his “sprees.” There is a contrast between Dmitri’s wanton indulgence and the suffering that pervades the Verkhovtsev family. The old colonel dies shortly after he restores his good name, perishing of an illness that seems to be dementia.
Themes
Suffering Theme Icon
Ten days later, Katerina Ivanovna, Agafya Ivanovna, and her aunt left for Moscow. There, Katerina was welcomed by an old widow who lost both of her nieces—her closest heirs—to smallpox in the same week. The woman took Katerina in as though she were her own daughter and gave her a dowry of eighty thousand roubles to spend however she’d like. So, Dmitri suddenly received forty-five hundred roubles in the mail. He was struck dumb, then received another letter three days later. In it, Katerina declared her love for Dmitri and asked him to marry her. She promised to be his “furniture” and a “rug” for him to walk on, only to save him from himself.
Katerina’s newly found wealth places her back in a position of privilege. Though she pays Dmitri back, she also uses her leverage to express her wish to marry. The attraction between Dmitri and Katerina seems to have little to do with who they actually are and everything to do with their unrealistic ideas about each other. Dmitri assumes that Katerina is haughty and untouchable, and Katerina assumes that Dmitri is hopelessly damned and needs her. She is attracted to the notion of suffering in her effort to reform a reprobate husband.
Themes
Suffering Theme Icon
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Dmitri responded and said that he was only a poor boor, while Katerina Ivanovna was now rich. Dmitri then wrote to Ivan in Moscow and explained everything in a six-page letter. He then sent Ivan to Katerina, and Ivan fell in love with her, and Katerina “reveres” Ivan. Alexei thinks that Katerina still loves Dmitri, but Dmitri thinks that she only loves her own virtue. Dmitri wants Katerina to marry Ivan while he, the “unworthy” man, will disappear down “his dirty back lane”—that is, back to Grushenka.
Dmitri doesn’t want to marry Katerina because he doesn’t actually love her, and he uses her new wealth as an excuse not to marry her. He sends Ivan to speak on his behalf, but it’s also possible that he sends Ivan because he thinks that his younger brother would be a more suitable companion for Katerina. Ivan is more gentlemanly and less of an overt sensualist.
Themes
Suffering Theme Icon
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Dmitri says that, once he started seeing Grushenka, he stopped being a fiancé and an honest man. However, he found out about her getting the promissory note from Captain Snegiryov, so he set out to give her a beating. Dmitri knows about how money-hungry Grushenka is, and about the old merchant, Samsonov, who’ll leave her a nice sum when he dies. He tells Alexei how three thousand roubles turned up, which he spent in Mokroye.
Dmitri thinks that he’s unworthy to marry Katerina. It speaks to his nobility that he backs out of his engagement, knowing that he isn’t committed, instead of keeping both women. However, he learns that Grushenka is willing to betray him for money. He seems to prefer Grushenka because she acts as depravedly as he does.
Themes
Innocence and Guilt Theme Icon
Suffering Theme Icon
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Grushenka agreed to marry Dmitri. Alexei asks if Dmitri really wants to marry her, and Dmitri says he will “at once.” Dmitri regards himself as a “thief” and a “pilferer” for taking three thousand roubles that Katerina Ivanovna entrusted him to send to her sister Agafya Ivanovna, who was in Moscow. He pretended to go to the provincial capital, from where he would’ve needed to send the money. Instead, he went to Mokroye with Grushenka. He wants Alexei to tell Katerina that he’s a “base sensualist” who spent her money. Alexei suggests that he can give her the money. He already has two thousand and Ivan will give another thousand, but Dmitri isn’t so sure that he can acquire the full sum. He implores Alexei to go to Katerina today, “with the money or without it,” and “make that bow to her.”
The centerpiece of Dmitri’s suffering, which compels his frenzied behavior later in the novel, is the three thousand roubles that he owes Katerina. For him, not returning the money would suggest that he has no honor, and that he is, indeed, guilty of abusing Katerina’s weakness. Given that his father would have no problem with exploiting someone’s vulnerability—he did so with both his children and his second wife—it seems that Dmitri may have absorbed this standard during his time in the military. Even without the money, he insists, too, on saying a proper goodbye to his fiancée.
Themes
Innocence and Guilt Theme Icon
Suffering Theme Icon
Dmitri then says that Alexei should go to their father and ask him for the money, but Alexei is sure that the old man won’t give it. Dmitri insists that Fyodor owes him something for making a hundred thousand out of his mother’s twenty-eight thousand dowry. He says that if Fyodor gives him three thousand roubles, he’ll never have to hear from his eldest son again. Alexei insists that their father will not give him the sum and Dmitri admits that he knows the same. Fyodor surely won’t give him the money that he’ll need to marry Grushenka, since Fyodor has “lost his mind over her.” Five days before, Fyodor “withdrew three thousand roubles in hundred-rouble notes and packed them into a big envelope, sealed with five seals and tied crisscross with a red ribbon.” The money is for Grushenka. Dmitri says that no one, other than Smerdyakov, “whose honesty [Fyodor] trusts like himself,” knows that he has the money.
Dmitri suggests that Alexei request the money because he knows that Fyodor likes Alexei. He would also probably be pleased to receive a request from the one son who seems not to need anything from him. The five seals on the envelope could be an indirect reference to the seven seals in the Bible’s Book of Revelation, which predict the Second Coming of Christ. The seals contain information only known by God. The fifth seal contains the souls that were “slain for the word of God,” or martyrs. Fyodor’s trust in Smerdyakov will prove to be extremely misplaced.
Themes
Jealousy and Envy Theme Icon
Suffering Theme Icon
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Fyodor has sent word to Grushenka to come to him. Dmitri is currently staying in “a closet” that a former fellow soldier, Foma, rents out in a brothel. Smerdyakov knows that Dmitri is staying in the brothel and will tell him if Grushenka goes to Fyodor for the money. It was also Smerdyakov who told Dmitri about the three thousand roubles. Dmitri says that even Ivan doesn’t know about the money, and Fyodor is sending Ivan to Chermashnya to see about someone who might want to buy their woodlot. It’s really just an excuse for Fyodor to have Ivan out of the way during Grushenka’s possible visit. Currently, Fyodor is drinking with Ivan, which makes this a good time for Alexei to go ask him for the money.
The fact that Dmitri is living in a room so small that it could be considered a “closet” is a point of embarrassment as well as symbolic of his sense of feeling confined by his poverty. Smerdyakov’s knowledge of the money is the first sign that he could be a suspect in the upcoming murder. Unlike Dmitri, Fyodor would have likely told Smerdyakov where the money was. Fyodor wants Ivan out of the way during Grushenka’s visit so that he can be alone with her. It’s a good time to ask for the money because Fyodor is likely drunk.
Themes
Innocence and Guilt Theme Icon
Suffering Theme Icon
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Alexei asks what they’ll do if Grushenka shows up today. Dmitri says that he’ll see her, burst in, and stop it. He says that he would kill Fyodor, which shocks Alexei. Dmitri then becomes unsure about the prospect of killing his father, but he can’t help but think about how much he hates his father’s face. Alexei, deep in thought, then leaves to visit his father.
This admission makes Dmitri seem an obvious suspect. Moreover, there is the matter of his personal loathing for Fyodor. The hatred of his father’s face is an odd feeling, given that he likely resembles him. This suggests a degree of self-hatred as well, or hatred of the parts of himself that he also sees in Fyodor.
Themes
Jealousy and Envy Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon