The Suffering of a Nonbeliever

Alyosha asserts that the reason for Ivan’s great mental suffering is his rebellious nature that leads to his refusal to submit to God, therefore this belief is paralleled in Frank’s chapter titled The Illumination of Life with Meaning that claims faith in God is the only way to live a fulfilled life. Alyosha speaks with Ivan immediately after his encounter with the devil, and he attempts to comfort his brother. While soothing Ivan’s hysterics, Alyosha starts to think and believes that he understands the cause of Ivan’s illness exclaiming, “the torments of a proud decision, a deep conscience!” and further thinks, “God, in who he did not want to believe, and his truth were overcoming his heart, which still did not want to submit” (Dostoevsky, 655). Thus, a nonbeliever cannot know the feeling of being content; because no nonbeliever feels content without forfeiting a nonbeliever’s character. * Alyosha is a strong believer of God who often argues with Ivan on the existence of God and consistently wishes that Ivan submit to God. Alyosha also ponders to himself that God will prevail, and that Ivan will either, “rise into the light of truth, or… perish in hatred, taking revenge on himself and everyone for having served something he does not believe in” (Dostoevsky, 655). It seems Alyosha’s trust in God is unwavering and he hopes that his brother rises into the same light as opposed to the latter.

Therefore, the way toward God is the way toward happiness and overall contentment. Frank eloquently writes, “we genuinely find ourselves and our life for the first time when we sacrifice ourselves and our empirical isolation and self-enclosedness and establish our entire being in another- in God, as the original source of all life” (Frank, 89). Thus, establishing himself in God has the ability to stop Ivan’s suffering. This pattern is observed in both The Brothers of Karamazov and The Meaning of Life relating the absence of contentment to the absence of faith in God. It can be hypothesized that suffering is always seen in nonbelievers across literary works during this time period in which paralleled religious works that stressed believing in God. This is because it was strongly asserted that believing in a greater power is the only way to find meaning in what appears to be a meaningless world. All in all, it can be interpreted that religion is an exclusive way to solve mental suffering by essentially giving one’s lives to a greater power. **

*Conduplicatio (of the word nonbeliever)

** Logos: Induction