Redemption and masochism seem to be two topics tied very closely together in Dosteovsky’s work. Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment was always unconsciously punishing himself to purge a guilt that seemed to dominate him. In The Brothers Karamazov Dosteovsky seems to be making a testament to the futility of masochism and redemption and the ultimate success of suffering and redemption. He does this primarily through his use of the characters of Dmitri, Katerina Ivanovna, and Lise. Lise, a cripple, has been afflicted with a horribly consumptive disease since her youth. She likes to exacerbate her situation by always complaining and often feigning insanity to keep her poor mother worried and the rest of the world sorry for her. In addition, she is subject to random bouts of nihilism and extremely masochistic tendencies. Lise will, for reasons of attention, attempt to destroy those things that she feels most fondly about. For instance, she cares a lot about Alyosha, but to attract him she makes fun of him, makes personal attacks, and then right after that laments about her own baseness. Her plight is extremely pathetic and even when Alyosha comes to her house she refuses to talk to him and actually attempts to physically force him out. At the height of her masochism, she adapts nihilistic philosophy by saying that she hates, doubts, and despises everything. Despite Alyosha’s attempts to heal her, she still feels incomplete and attempts to become wiser by jamming her finger into a door. Katerina Ivanovna has a malicious type of masochism, she intentionally hurts herself so that she can shift the blame upon those that she feels are against her. For instance, she intentionally proposes to get back together with Dmitri even though she fundamentally doesn’t love him and loves Ivan, simply because she wants to place the blame of their failed relationship on him. At the trial, she is seen attempting to indict Dmitri even though this causes unbearable grief in her both during and after the trial. Dmitri is seen as a masochist early on in the novel, but by the end, both he and Katerina Ivanovna have turned for the better. They both feel better and reform at the end because they have learned that it is genuine suffering, not masochism that redeems individuals. Dmitri, for instances, proposes that he go to Siberia not because he is actually guilty but because he would want to repay his sin. However, at the end he wants to escape again. This change can only be accounted for the fact that Dmitri has learned, during the time, to forgive instead of persecute. When Katerina Ivanovna comes into the hospital room, Dmitri immediately asks her to forgive him and says that he has forgiven her as well. While Dmitri was masochistic, he could only feel self- pity and not true suffering. He could only hate and hate everything- the guards, the lawyers, himself, and that brought him no where.
However at the end, with his own self- forgiveness and forgiveness for everyone, Dmitri was, in a sense, free and deserved to be out of both his physical prison and the prison of his self inflicted torture. Katerina Ivanovna also found a way to forgive herself and to forgive Dmitri. When she did, the two embraced, signifying their new freedom. Lise, however, serves as Dosteovsky’s mockery of masochism to the ultimate. Adapting Ivan’s doubtful philosophy, Lise believes that she can create out of destruction and skepticism. When Ivan simply laughs at her stupidity, Lise can be seen as the ultimate absurdity of masochism- what did she jam her finger in the door for? Was it simply for attention? She certainly did not grow any more wiser. Thus, Dosteovsky shows the reader that it is not masochism, but forgiveness that causes suffering and true redemption and salvation. One of the things that drew me towards Christianity while I was browsing religions was the idea of forgiveness. Many times in my younger years I had felt that Christianity was a cop out by aadmitting that man is inherently sinful. I felt like that gave people excuses to be masochists and simply lament about their inherent baseness and not correct it. However, I feel now that Christianity seeks to use forgiveness of the aforementioned sinfulness as a way towards true suffering and redemption. The way I found forgiveness to work is that when Christians find it in their hearts to forgive themselves and forgive their enemies, they are acting as Jesus Christ did. By doing so, they vindicate themselves of self -pity but put themselves unconsciously before the gigantic magnifying glass that is God. The result is guilt, suffering, and if sincerity prevails through Christ, redemption and correction. For as I turn forgiveness upon myself, I know that I can forgive because God has forgive me, but at the same time, I am not done. I know that by forgiving me, I am all the more indebt to God and my suffering becomes cleansing and pure. This type of redemption appealed to me, a typical masochist, greatly. No longer would I have to constantly work for forgiveness and attempt to “outdo” my sins. Rather, my debts were paid and because they are. Forgiveness is assumed and redemption is the result.