Analysis of The Inquisitor's Argument in Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov

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Analysis of The Inquisitor's Argument in The Brothers Karamazov

Dostoevsky makes a strong case against Jesus in "The Grand Inquisitor": Jesus did not love humanity sufficiently to care for the greater good of the race.

The majority of people, according to the Grand Inquisitor, are weak and "like sheep." Jesus prized freedom of faith above all else, and because he cared more for that freedom than for the happiness of people, the Grand Inquisitor and the Catholic Church, as led by he Inquisitor, reject Jesus. Only the strong, like the Inquisitor, who can "go the forty days and nights in the desert," are capable of attaining the reward of Heaven, while the weak millions, "who are weak but still love Thee... must exist
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Earthly bread is the antithesis of freedom. Thoreau understood that as long as a person is dependant on anyone else for anything, he is not truly free.

The second temptation the Devil poses is for Jesus to cast Himself down on the ground from a high cliff to prove that He is the son of God. Jesus refuses, reminding Satan that the Scriptures say "do not tempt the Lord your God." The Inquisitor claims that even if man were to have "earthly bread" in abundance, without a "stable conception of the object of life," man would not continue to live, and any who would lead men must captivate their consciences. Only three powers can do this, says the Inquisitor: miracle, mystery, and authority. In the first temptation, Jesus rejected the first power, and now is rejecting the second. The Inquisitor says, "And I ask Thee again... couldst Thou believe for a moment that men, too, could face such a temptation?" Once again, Jesus is refusing to captivate the souls of men by force.

The third and final temptation that the "wise and dread spirit" poses Christ is to offer Him all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus will only bow down and worship him. "Begone, Satan," replies
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