A twisted Business: The Absurdity of Love



One of the recurring themes of the novel The Brothers Karamazov  is the absurdity of love. Katerina loves Dmitri, and maybe Ivan, his brother,  who also loves her. Mrs. Khokhlakovs, not the most reliable of guides since she seems to lack all sense, even though she is rich, says “they’re both throwing away their lives for no good reason; they are perfectly aware of it and actually enjoying it.” Sometimes in the novel it is very difficult to discern who loves whom. Or whether the emotion is love or hate.

But immediately Dmitri abandons Katerina for Grushenka instead. Even though he still loves Katerina. Both Dmitri and his father love the same woman—Grushenka. And perhaps Dmitri and his brother Ivan also love the same woman—Katerina. It is confusing to say the least.  That causes problems and sets the novel in motion.

Grushenka said she would be “the god to whom Dmitri will pray.” That brings the religious quest to an entirely new level. And Ivan, the man of reason, even tells Katerina that he approves of this twisted business, even though it seems so absurd.

Lise loves Alyosha and Alyosha loves her. But she can’t believe this is possible. And nothing seems to happen as a result of this professed love. It is still-born.

The loves in the novel are as crazy as religions. It was all a “twisted business” and “a twisted ecstasy.” Just like religion.

On it surface  the novel is an absurd  love farce and a murder mystery. And. yet it is a great novel. One of the greatest involving a profound religious quest.

Katerina loves (and hates) Grushenka and yet tries to keep her away from Dmitri. Dmitri and Ivan at one point nearly fight over Katerina. For a while Grushenka and Katerina love each other, even though they were competing for the same man,  but quickly those loves break into a thousand tiny shards. In all of this heartbreak where does the truth lie? Obviously, in this twisted business it is impossible to find the truth. It is the result of the “violent and conflicting passions of the Karamazovs.” Particularly “when it is possible to fall in love and to hate at the same time.”A twisted Business  And particularly when those passions involve God. Another twisted business.


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