Patterson, Charles I. (Charles Ivey), 1913-1989
M.A. (Master of Arts)
Department of English
Dostoyevsky; Fyodor; 1821-1881
The theme of isolation is prevalent in all of Dostoevsky's works, but its dramatic import has not been fully discussed by his critics. Although the problem of isolation cannot be extricated from the larger philosophical problem of freedom in Dostoevsky, the method he uses to illustrate his ideas on freedom, dramatically isolating characters throughout his work, indicates that the problem of isolation can be studied separately. In Dostoevsky, isolation exists in two basic forms: spiritual and physical. Spiritual isolation is represented by the Underground man of Notes from the Underground, a character type developed throughout Dostoevsky's fiction to his masterful consummation in Ivan Karamazov of The Brothers Karamazov. Physical isolation is represented by Father Zossima in The Brothers Karamazov, and his self-abnegating isolation is a symbol of the self1ess love of Christ which one must accept if he is to be cured of spiritual isolation. By bestowing several characters of differing intellectual and psychic makeups with the same self-will, Dostoevsky explores the causes, consequences, and cures for isolation from as many viewpoints as possible. This can best be seen by selecting a group of novels and stories between The Notes and The Brothers and investigating the dramatic isolation of the principal characters in them. By doing this we can better understand Dostoevsky's concept of salvation through a super-rational acceptance of Christ's love and also the spiritual bankruptcy which will befall those who reject it in favor of their own will. In the works studied, each spiritually isolated character is given a chance of restoration. All but The Ridiculous Man in "The Dream oh a Ridiculous Man" and Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment reject it and remain damned in their isolation. But on the way to spiritual bankruptcy, each of the isolated characters pushes his self-will as far as his own limitations will permit; by pursuing Stavrogin in The Possessed, Raskolnikov, Ivan, and the others on the oath of spiritual destruction Dostoevsky makes his startling discoveries about the irrational duality of human nature. With The Brothers Karamazov Dostoevsky presents his final statement on the spiritual disaster of isolation through the character of Ivan, and he also presents his final statement of belief in the future harmony of man kind which is to be accomplished by a universal acceptance of the kinship of all things on earth. This mystical spiritual union will be achieved through the boundless love of Christ, and it is symbolized by the group of boys around Alyosha Karamazov at the close of the novel. The last phrase in Dostoevsky's fictional canon, "Hurrah for Karamazov!" is his final dramatic statement of faith that spiritual isolation can be overcome.
Bowen, Ted, "The function of isolation in Dostoevsky's fiction" (1966). Graduate Research Theses & Dissertations. 5789.
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