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The Grand Inquisitor

The Grand Inquisitor PLDZ-12
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The Grand Inquisitor is Ivan's "poem", which he recites after Rebellion. In part, the discussion from Rebellion is Ivan's way of judging whether Alyosha is ready to hear the poem. Ivan determines that Alyosha is ready to hear it, and so tells the story, with occasional questions from Alyosha to break the narrative. It is important to note that while Ivan refers to it as a "poem", that the tale itself is prose.

In the story, Jesus (referred to by Ivan only as "He", or "Him", with a capital H) returns to earth during the Spanish Inquisition. He brings a dead girl back to life, and performs other miracles among the wounded, sick, and dying people in town. The Grand Inquisitor, riding through town with his procession, sees Him, and has Him arrested. The remainder of the story involves the "conversation" that the Grand Inquisitor has with Jesus. The word "conversation" in the previous sentence is a bit of a misnomer, because throughout the rest of the story, The Grand Inquisitor speaks to Him, and He listens silently.

He never speaks, but his silence is applauded by the Inquisitor, who says "Thou hast no right to add anything to what Thou hadst said of old." Aloysha asks whether He is completely silent throughout the conversation, to which Ivan replies:

"That's inevitable in any case, the old man has told Him He hasn't the right to add anything to what He has said of old. One may say it is the most fundamental feature of Roman Catholicism, in my opinion at least. 'All has been given by The to the Pope,' they say, 'and all, therefore, is still in the Pope's hands, and there is no need for Thee to come now at all."

Another point that the Inquisitor makes frequently is that He has given humanity a certain amount of freedom, and that any additional messages from Him would encroach upon that freedom. Also, continues the Inquisitor, that freedom that was given to humanity by Jesus' original message was actually a penalty, and that the church has needed to remove those freedoms from the people.

The Grand Inquisitor is Ivan's "poem", which he recites after Rebellion. In part, the discussion from Rebellion is Ivan's way of judging whether Alyosha is ready to hear the poem. Ivan determines that Alyosha is ready to hear it, and so tells the sto
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