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The Brothers Karamazov: Novel Summary: Part III Book VIII - Mitya (Chapters 1-8)

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Part III Book VIII - Mitya (Chapters 1-8)

Chapter 1: Kuzma Samsonov
Dmitri is in an agitated state because he cannot work out Grushenka's intentions and suspects her of intending to become Fyodor Pavlovich's lover, or even wife. It does not occur to him that her former lover may be a rival. Grushenka refuses to tell Dmitri anything, as she is confused about what to do.
Dmitri worries that if Grushenka suddenly decides she wants to be with him, he will not have the money to take her away. Before he could do so, he wants to pay back to Katerina Ivanovna the three thousand roubles that he has stolen, but cannot see how. He cannot bear the thought of using Katerina's money to start a new life with Grushenka. Though he knows about Fyodor Pavlovich's envelope containing three thousand roubles and feels he is entitled to it, he cannot take it without having paid Katerina back first - otherwise he would be a thief and a scoundrel. He decides to go to Samsonov, Grushenka's patron, to offer him a business deal in return for the cash.
Dmitri tells Samsonov that he is here for the sake of Grushenka. He says that he (Dmitri) is the rightful owner of the village of Chermashnya, which was left to him by his mother but which has been appropriated by Fyodor Pavlovich. Dmitri offers to give Samsonov the documentation; Samsonov would then take Fyodor Pavlovich to court to get the land. In return, Samsonov would give Dmitri three thousand roubles.
Samsonov wickedly plays with Dmitri. He tells him that this is not the kind of business he does, but recommends that he talk to a merchant called Lyagavy. Lyagavy has been trying to buy a woodlot in Chermashnya from Fyodor Pavlovich but they have been unable to agree a price. Lyagavy might accept Dmitri's offer. Believing that Samsonov is sincere, Dmitri is delighted with his advice.
Chapter 2: Lyagavy
Dmitri needs horses to travel to see Lyagavy, so pawns his watch to pay for them. He is guided for part of the journey by a priest, who cannot understand why Dmitri calls the merchant by the name Lyagavy, which the merchant hates, rather than by his usual name, Gorstkin.
Dmitri finds the man drunk, and the priest advises him to wait until morning. But next morning, the man is still drunk and mistakes Dmitri for someone who has cheated him. Dmitri gives up and returns to his home town unsure of what to do. He goes to Grushenka's house.
Chapter 3
Grushenka is expecting the message from her lover, and does not want a visit from Dmitri. In order to get Dmitri off her hands, she asks him to take her to Samsonov's house to perform her regular task of helping Samsonov count money. Dmitri leaves her at Samsonov's. Still penniless, he pawns his dueling pistols to an acquaintance for a few roubles. The narrator tells us that three hours later, he suddenly has thousands of roubles, but does not explain how.
Dmitri learns from a neighbor of his father's about Smerdyakov's illness and Ivan's departure for Moscow that morning. He goes to see Madame Khokhlakov to ask her to lend him three thousand roubles, offering as security the land in Chermashnya. Madame Khokhlakov detests Dmitri because of his involvement with Katerina; she wants Katerina to marry Ivan because he has better manners. Madame Khokhlakov is eager to help but refuses to lend Dmitri the money. Instead, she tells him to go to the gold mines and make money that way. She gives him a silver icon and bids him depart.
In a fury, Dmitri leaves, beating himself on the chest in the same place that he had beaten himself two days before, when he was with Alyosha. He bumps into a servant of Samsonov's, who reveals that Grushenka only stayed there for a minute and then left. Panic-stricken, Dmitri runs to Grushenka's house. In fact, Grushenka has already left to join her lover, but the maid, Fenya, pretends not to know where she is. As Dmitri rushes out, he picks up a brass pestle (a small club-like implement for grinding seeds and grains), stuffs it into his pocket, and runs off. Fenya worries that he will kill someone with it.
Chapter 4: In the dark
Dmitri fears, in his jealousy, that Grushenka has gone straight to Fyodor Pavlovich's from Samsonov's. He jumps over the fence into Fyodor Pavlovich's garden and looks through the window into his bedroom. He sees his father sitting alone but cannot be sure if Grushenka is there. He taps on the window, using the secret signal agreed upon between Fyodor Pavlovich and Smerdyakov. Fyodor Pavlovich jumps up, opens the window and calls Grushenka's name. He says he has a present waiting for her, meaning the three thousand roubles. Dmitri jumps out of sight and feels overwhelmed with loathing for his father. He snatches the pestle from his pocket. Here, the narrative regarding Dmitri breaks off.
The narrative turns to Grigory, who suddenly wakes and remembers that he has not locked the garden gate. He notices that Fyodor Pavlovich's window is open, which surprises him, as it is not summer. Then, Grigory notices someone running in the darkness towards the fence. Grigory clutches the man's leg as he is climbing over, and recognizes Dmitri. Grigory shouts, "Parricide!" (father-killer). Dmitri hits Grigory over the head with the pestle and Grigory falls to the ground, his head covered in blood. Dmitri throws the pestle into the grass nearby. He tries to wipe the blood from Grigory's head with a handkerchief, then stuffs the blood-soaked handkerchief into his pocket and runs through the town back to Grushenka's house. A servant at the gate tells him that Grushenka has gone to Mokroye to see her former lover.
Chapter 5: A sudden decision
Dmitri rushes into Grushenka's house with blood on his hands and face. He asks Fenya where Grushenka is, and with whom. Fenya, terrified at Dmitri's bloody appearance and frenzied manner, admits that she is in Mokroye with her former lover. Dmitri is stunned, as, though he had known about this man, he had not given him a second thought. Fenya tells him Grushenka's message, that she bows to Dmitri, and that he should remember that she loved him for one hour.
Dmitri decides to visit Grushenka one last time and then kill himself. He goes to Perkhotin, the official to whom he pawned his pistols, produces a large wad of money and asks to collect his pistols. Perkhotin wonders how Dmitri has acquired the money when he had none earlier that day. Dmitri agrees that it must be around three thousand roubles. Perkhotin is concerned about the bloodstains and tries to clean Dmitri up; Dmitri pulls out his handkerchief, but it is soaked in blood. Perkhotin asks Dmitri if he has been in a fight, and Dmitri answers incoherently.
Perkhotin watches uneasily as Dmitri loads one of his pistols. Then Perkhotin follows Dmitri to Plotnikov's shop and buys a huge amount of groceries and wine suitable for a big celebration. Dmitri asks Perkhotin whether he has ever stolen anything; Dmitri adds that he himself has, though he refuses to say what. Dmitri takes out the wad of money and tosses three hundred roubles onto the counter, then gets ready to leave for Mokroye with the food and drink. Fenya appears and begs him not to harm Grushenka or her lover. Perkhotin suddenly fears that Dmitri intends to kill them, and asks Dmitri to leave the pistols with him. Dmitri promises not to harm anyone and drives off. Perkhotin bitterly reflects that he is "not his [Dmitri's] nursemaid."
Perkhotin goes to an inn and discusses the day's events with other men, asking where Dmitri could have got three thousand roubles. He recalls that Dmitri was boasting about killing his father. The men wonder if Dmitri has robbed the old man.
Chapter 6: Here I come!
Dmitri has the coachman, Andrei, drive him to Mokroye. He is certain that he has no hope of winning Grushenka. He feels no jealousy for her lover because he believes that, as Grushenka's first love, his right to her is beyond dispute. In a frenzied state, Dmitri asks Andrei if he (Dmitri) will go to hell. Andrei says that Christ died so that sinners would be freed from hell. He adds that Dmitri is "just like a little child to us" and "though you're one to get angry . . . the Lord will forgive you for your simple heart." Dmitri asks whether Andrei will forgive him "for everyone" he has wronged. Andrei is baffled. Dmitri is praying, muttering that he will love God even from hell.
Dmitri arrives at the inn. The innkeeper confirms that Grushenka is there with her Polish lover (his name is later revealed as Pan Mussyalovich) and some others. He remarks that she looks rather bored. Dmitri reminisces with the innkeeper about how much money he spent on his last visit. They agree that Dmitri spent about three thousand roubles. Showing his wad of money, Dmitri adds that he has brought that much again.
Chapter 7: The former and indisputable one
Dmitri approaches the table where Grushenka and her companions are sitting and asks if he can join them. Among them is Kalganov, Miusov's relative, who invites Dmitri to sit with them. Dmitri explains that he wanted to spend his last hour with Grushenka, his "queen," then bursts into tears. Grushenka threatens to leave if he is not allowed to join them, so the others reluctantly allow the intrusion.
Grushenka's lover, far from being a dashing young man, is a forty-year old with a flabby face and a wig. The group engages in a long and tedious conversation, during which Grushenka shows signs of boredom. They play at cards, and Dmitri loses a lot of money.
Dmitri takes Pan Mussyalovich to one side and offers him three thousand roubles (in instalments) to leave. Pan Mussyalovich seems interested, but then spits and refuses. Dmitri says he is turning down his offer because he expects to get more from Grushenka. Pan Mussyalovich tells Grushenka that Dmitri offered him money for her; Dmitri puts in that Pan Mussyalovich would have taken the offer, had it not involved instalments. Grushenka furiously accuses her lover of only wanting her for her money, and says she has been foolish to torment herself for five years over him. A quarrel breaks out in the group, and the Polish men (including Grushenka's lover) are accused of cheating at cards.
Pan Mussyalovich leaves, telling Grushenka she can come with him, or not. Dmitri slams the door shut, and they realize that they are locked in.
Chapter 8: Delirium
Dmitri settles Grushenka in an armchair and hosts a party with the food and drink he has brought. A group of singers, dancers and musicians whom he has hired provide entertainment. Grushenka shows signs of growing passion for Dmitri, though she holds back from expressing much. Dmitri worries about the wound he gave Grigory.
As the evening progresses, Dmitri finds Grushenka in a secluded corner, sobbing. He comforts her, and she tells him that she did love Pan Mussyalovich, but that he is not the same man as he was. Then she admits that the minute Dmitri walked in tonight, she knew it was him she loved. She asks his forgiveness for tormenting him. Dmitri kisses her passionately. They begin to plan a new life together. Grushenka wants them both to go away and have an honest life working on the land.
Suddenly, a police commissioner and other officials enter the room. Dmitri cries that he understands: they want to arrest him for "the old man and his blood." He is referring to Grigory, but the police officer takes his remark as a confession to quite another crime. The police officer accuses the still-bloodstained Dmitri of being a parricide and announces that he has come to arrest him for the murder of Fyodor Pavlovich.
This Book focuses on Dmitri and lays the groundwork for his being accused of his father's murder. Dostoevsky goes to great lengths to ensure that almost everyone, including the reader, believes that Dmitri committed the murder, though we do not actually see him do the deed. We see Dmitri so desperate for money that he begs it from people who do not like him, such as Samsonov and Madame Khokhlakov, and even pawns his precious pistols. Only hours later, after Fyodor Pavlovich has been murdered, Dmitri is seen by several people (such as Perkhotin and the party at the inn) touting a large wad of money. Moreoever, this money, Dmitri suggests to Perkhotin and the innkeeper, must amount to three thousand roubles - exactly the amount that Fyodor Pavlovich set aside for Grushenka, and which Smerdyakov has told Dmitri about. Dmitri's sudden and unexplained wealth, his bloodstained appearance (from his attack on Grigory), the fact that Fenya sees him taking the pestle as a weapon from Grushenka's house, his frenzied and violent manner to everyone he encounters, and his inability to give any coherent explanation for all these anomalies, all combine to form compelling circumstantial evidence that Dmitri was the murderer.
The narrator adds to this evidence with such direct comments as "as he stepped onto the porch of Madame Khokhlakov's house, he suddenly felt a chill of horror run down his spine: only at that second did he realize fully and now with mathematical clarity that this was his last hope, that if this should fall through, there was nothing left in the world but 'to kill and rob someone for the three thousand . . .'"
It is not only what the narrator tells us that conspires to convict Dmitri in our minds: it is what he does not tell us. In Chapter 4, Dmitri is lurking outside his father's window and musing on how much he loathes him. He snatches the pestle from his pocket - and then, at the crucial moment, the narrative breaks off, in a literary device known as ellipsis. The narrative takes up next with Grigory going into the garden. In this break, Dmitri could have killed Fyodor Pavlovich. Though we do not know for sure, for many readers, the evidence against Dmitri is convincing.
There are several reasons why Dostoevsky lures the reader into the mistaken assumption that Dmitri is the murderer, while only revealing at the novel's end that he is innocent and that the real murderer is Smerdyakov.
The first is that Dmitri occupies a position in between the moral and spiritual extremes exemplified by Alyosha/Zosima and Fyodor Pavlovich. He is driven by strong passions and is subject to spates of fury, to the extent that it is easy to believe that he could have committed the murder. On the other hand, he loves God and has a strong conscience. On the way to Mokroye, he tells God, "if you send me to hell, even there will I love you, and from there I will cry that I love you unto ages of ages . . ." Andrei, who embodies the simple peasant faith that Zosima so prized, sees Dmitri's innocent soul beneath the sinning behavior: "you, sir, are just like a little child to us . . . And though you're one to get angry . . . the Lord will forgive you for your simple heart."
Poised on the threshold between the damned and the redeemed, Dmitri could go either way, depending upon the choices he makes. In this sense, he is an exemplar of free will and an embodiment of the vast majority of humanity who occupy the 'grey areas' of morality. It is in line with Dostoevsky's affirmation of faith in The Brothers Karamazov that a man who appears thoroughly guilty for most of the novel - even in the reader's eyes - is at last revealed as innocent. The effect of this positive surprise on the reader is to lift the spirits and to convey that there is hope for every 'sinner.' In addition, the reader's final realization of Dmitri's innocence parallels Dmitri's own repentance and spiritual redemption, creating a sense within the reader that Dmitri has been purified of sin and transformed.
The second reason is to contrast fallible earthly justice with infallible spiritual justice. Dmitri is judged guilty by the first, but is innocent by the second. He shares this fate with Christ in Ivan's "The Grand Inquisitor" poem, and in this repect, Dmitri has Christ-like elements. The implication is that, while innocents may suffer undeservedly on earth, they will receive their just deserts later in this life or in the afterlife, just as Zosima, after a humiliating earthly death, appears in Alyosha's dream celebrating with Christ at a wedding. Dmitri also shows the truth of Zosima's assertion that the only effective punishment is not imposed by the courts but by one's own conscience when, in Chapter 6, he tells God not to judge him because "I have condemned myself."
There is a third reason why Dostoevsky allows us to believe Dmitri is guilty, only to reveal him as innocent at the end. As we have seen, the reader has judged him guilty throughout because he has been given every reason to do so. The court judges him as guilty, and most of the townspeople think he is guilty. Frequently, Dmitri unwittingly condemns himself by his own words and actions; he is all too aware of his tumultuous past record and his future potential for parricide and other extreme acts of anger and hatred. Thus, Dmitri is to some extent guilty on his own behalf, but he also shows that he has absorbed the spirit of Zosima's message that everyone is "guilty on behalf of all and for all" when he asks Andrei to "forgive me for everyone." This request shows that Dmitri views mankind as one, with each person responsible for everyone else's sins. In this sense, Dmitri is guilty of the murder, in common with every other person and possibly more so, because of his strong loathing for his father. Dmitri takes on the punishment on behalf of the real culprit, just as Christ took on the sins of every man and woman, because somebody has to do the job of paying for, and purifying, those sins. And even if Dmitri were to be judged innocent of the murder, as we see in future chapters, he, like the majority of humankind, is guilty of a multitude of lesser sins. In this way, he stands accused on behalf of humanity in general, as a kind of 'everyman.'
It is ironic that Dmitri is a strong suspect for the murder partly because of his open and innocent nature. He hides nothing (bloodstains, suddenly acquired money, his hatred for his father) and therefore, a large number of people witness a large amount of incriminating evidence. In contrast, the philanthropist (Book VI, Chapter 1) got away with his murder partly because he was unsociable and told nobody anything: no one even knew that he loved the woman he murdered.
Another development worthy of note in this section is Grushenka's development following her meeting with Alyosha. After five years of torment, she is finally able to see her former lover as he is and to let go of him. After many years of tormenting men with her uncertainty and hedging, in a moving scene, gives in to her love for Dmitri and expresses her hope for a better life together.
It is a tragedy that this moment of pure love is interrupted by the officers who have come to arrest Dmitri, but it is indicative of the limitations of earthly justice (the police arrest the wrong man). Ironically, it could equally be indicative of the perfection of heavenly justice, if one accepts that Dmitri is being called to account for his own sins and the sins of mankind in general.


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