Date of Award

Spring 2024

Degree Type



English Language and Literatures

Director of Thesis

Steve Lynn, Dea

Second Reader

Elena Osokina


The Great Reforms of Alexander II are regarded as transformative policies in the history of Tsarist Russia, drastically changing the empire’s social and political fabric. The judicial reforms of 1864 in particular addressed longstanding issues within the existing criminal justice system, yet they also liberalized the institution at large. Following in the West’s footsteps, the reforms introduced an unprecedented level of democracy into Russia’s courtroom. Among the critics of these changes were renowned authors Fyodor Dostoevsky and Leo Tolstoy, both of whom used the realm of fiction to explore their respective concerns with reformed Russian jurisprudence. Both authors bring distinct religious and moral perspectives to the discussion. By examining the courtroom scenes in both The Brothers Karamazov and Resurrection, I explore the legal and philosophical ramifications of the 1864 reforms as interpreted by two of Russia’s most influential literary voices.

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© 2024, Abby Moore