The Brothers Karamazov

The Brothers Karamazov

by

Fyodor Dostoevsky

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The Brothers Karamazov: Part 4: Book 12, Chapter 14 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Fetyukovich concludes his speech to “the rapture” of his listeners. Just then Ippolit Kirillovich stands to object. People glare at him hatefully for daring to do so. He mentions that the prosecution has been accused of inventing novels, but that’s just what the defense has done. Fetyukovich has turned Smerdyakov into a “Byronic hero,” avenging himself on society for casting him down and out. Also, he asks, what is this matter of a son bursting into his father’s home to kill him but then not killing him? Fetyukovich doesn’t object.
Fetyukovich is a master orator and these skills serve him well, despite the scattered nature of his arguments. What both attorneys present are multiple narratives of what could have happened that night. The most far-fetched story, presented by Fetyukovich, is the one that turns out to be true.
Themes
Innocence and Guilt Theme Icon
Dmitri speaks. He says that he’s not guilty of killing his father. He begs to be spared. The presiding judge is very tired. He weakly instructs the jury to be “impartial.” The jury retires, allowing people to eat at the buffet and walk around. The ladies however, are “hysterically impatient” and think that an acquittal is “inevitable.” The men think the same. Some are glad, but others frown, because they don’t want an acquittal. One man wonders what the peasants will say. Then, the bell rings. The jury has deliberated for exactly one hour. The public resumes their seats. The presiding judge asks, “Did he [Dmitri] commit murder for the purpose of robbery, and with premeditation?” The foreman of the jury says, “Yes, guilty!”
This plea contrasts with his initial one in which he pled guilty only of drunkenness and depravity. It seems that Dmitri now feels the weight of what can happen to him—namely, that he and Grushenka could be apart for the rest of their lives. Among the public, the ladies remain on Dmitri’s side, taken with romantic ideas about a crime of passion. Some of the men assume that Dmitri will be acquitted because of his social station, which displeases them.
Themes
Innocence and Guilt Theme Icon
Chaos breaks loose. Many of the men in the room seem pleased. Dmitri cries out that he swears he’s not guilty. He tells Katerina Ivanovna that he forgives her and asks that everyone have pity for Grushenka. He breaks into sobs. A piercing cry rings out: it’s from Grushenka. On the way out of the courtroom, someone says that Dmitri will “get a twenty-year taste of the mines.” Others say that the peasants stood up for themselves and “finished off” Dmitri.
Dmitri tells Katerina Ivanovna that he forgives her for what he thinks was an attempt to ruin him out of jealousy, though she was also trying to save Ivan. The peasants decided the outcome of the case, demonstrating a social shift in which the lower classes with have more power—a harbinger for what the next century would bring. This also seems to present Ippolit Kirillovich’s vision of Russia as the victor for now: the “galloping troika” of modern amorality has been wrangled by the common sense and piety of the Russian peasantry. The problem, of course, is that the supposedly “moral” judgment was actually incorrect.
Themes
Innocence and Guilt Theme Icon
Jealousy and Envy Theme Icon
Morality and Modernization Theme Icon