The Brothers Karamazov

Will Justice Be Served?: Dostoevsky’s Depiction of Justice in The Brothers Karamazov

One of the major themes of Dostoevsky’s novel The Brothers Karamazov is the concept of justice, both earthly and divine. Dostoevsky investigates the differences between the two forms and examines several aspects of justice. The novel introduces several different philosophies on justice and shows what the people who follow each are like. The investigation of these concepts culminates in a trial, which is the setting for the final demonstration of the power of divine justice.

Earthly justice is the far more basic concept introduced in the novel. It simply is the idea of the actual justice system, laws imposed by the government, trials, and the punishments handed down by them. In the novel, earthly justice is represented by several characters with careers in law enforcement, who are introduced towards the end of the novel when Dmitry’s arrest is imminent. Guilt under the system of earthly justice means that the person actually committed the crime he or she is being accused of. For example, in this novel, Dmitry is guilty under earthly justice if he actually killed his father and stole the money that his father had hidden. His previous thoughts and desires are not relevant to whether or not he is guilty, all that matters is if he...

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