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Unformatted text preview: Smerdyakov, then, the fourth son of Fyodor Karamazov, is the offspring of an idiot and a sensualist little wonder that he is one of the most disagreeable persons in the novel, resenting even the kindness of his foster parents. In addition to his introduction of Smerdyakov and the boy's background, Dostoevsky also presents the first lengthy, analytical description of Dmitri. And with this Karamazov son, Dostoevsky elaborates upon one of his favorite themes: the contradictory impulses within a personality. Often this idea is referred to as the "Madonna-Sodom" opposition, meaning that radical and diametrically opposed feelings exist at the same time within a person. Dmitri uses this concept to help explain his position, saying, "I can't endure the thought that a man of lofty mind and heart begins with the ideal of the Madonna and ends with the ideal of Sodom. What's still more awful is that a man with the ideal of Madonna and ends with the ideal of Sodom....
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- Fall '11
- The Idiot