The Brothers Karamazov

The Brothers Karamazov


Fyodor Dostoevsky

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The Brothers Karamazov: Part 4: Book 12, Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis

Drs. Varvinsky and Herzenstube, as well as the Moscow doctor, are called as expert witnesses. Herzenstube declares that “the mental abnormality of the defendant is self-evident.” Having known Dmitri for many years, he expresses sympathy with him and says that, as a boy, he had a good heart. The Moscow doctor confirms that Dmitri’s condition is abnormal, “even in the highest degree.” He speaks, too, about “mania” and the “fit of passion.” When the subject of the three thousand roubles arose, he says, Dmitri flew into “some sort of frenzy.” Varvinsky is the last to be questioned. He thinks that Dmitri is in a normal condition and attributes his behavior to “jealousy, wrath, [and] continual drunkenness.” Everyone ends up agreeing with Varvinsky.
Dr. Varvinksy, the least experienced of the medical experts, gives the most sensible testimony. Dr. Herzenstube is a less reliable witness because he knew Dmitri as a boy and, therefore, knew the neglect in which he grew up, which causes him to have pity for him and to identify Fyodor’s poor parenting as the source of all of his eldest son’s current troubles. The Moscow doctor, who is supposed to know more than all of them, grossly inflates Dmitri’s problem (though Dmitri was certainly fixated on the three thousand roubles).
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Jealousy and Envy Theme Icon
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