Essay on Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment
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Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment
Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel “Crime and Punishment” brings the reader a glimpse into the mind of a criminal, tormented by the guilt of murder. Dostoevsky’s focal point of the novel does not lie within the crime nor the punishment but everything in between.
Dostoevsky also vividly depicts the life and conditions of poverty within the confines of St. Petersburg. Dostoevsky uses a unique and descriptive diction which takes the reader’s perspective and puts them in the mind of the murderer – Raskolnikov.
Raskolnikov “…pulled the axe quite out, swung it with both arms, scarcely conscious of himself, and almost without effort, almost mechanically, brought the blunt side down on her head.” In this…show more content…
Another scene of violence involves love and one man’s desperate chase after an engaged woman. Svidrigailov, whom has fallen for Dounia, the sister of Raskolnikov is a wealthy employer of Dounia. His obsession over Dounia is evident in his offer of money to Dounia and Raskolnikov. Svidrigailov also claims Dounia’s fiancée, Luzhin, as unworthy of Dounia and wishes Dounia to cancel the engagement with Luzhin. As Dounia and nearly every character in the novel is profoundly poor, rejecting such a tempting offer from Svidrigailov displays courage from Raskolnikov and Dounia. Poverty also allows Characters such as Dounia and Raskolnikov to commit self sacrifice to do what is moral and right. Dounia shows her hatred of Svidrigialov by threatening to shoot him with a revolver as she “…raised the revolver, and deadly pale, gazed at him, measuring the distance and awaiting the first movement on his part.”(458) Dostoevsky perfectly describes Dounia to the readers as she is about to shoot Svidrigailov, when her “…lower lip was white and quivering and her big black eyes flashed like fire.”(458) Dostoevsky also mentioned the feeling in Svidrigailov’s mind when he saw the revolver pointed at him and he looked at Dounia and thought “He had never seen her so handsome. The fire glowing in her eyes at the moment she raised the revolver seemed to
Crime and Punishment
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Crime and Punishment
The main character of the novel Crime and Punishment by Feodor Dostoevsky, Raskolnikov, is in reality two totally contradicting personalities. One part of him is the intellectual. This part is cold and inhumane. It is this side that enables him to commit the most terrible crime imaginable - taking another human life. The other part of his personality is warm and compassionate. This is the side of him that does charitable acts and fights out against the evil in his society. This dichotomy of Raskolnikov’s personality can be clearly seen through the dream about the mare, as well as through other characters in the novel.
Raskolnikov's dream about the mare can be used to probe deep into his mentality to discover how he really feels inside. The dream suggests that Raskolnikov is a "split" man; after all, his name in Russian means, "split". He has a cruel and thoughtless side as well as a caring, compassionate side to his personality. Through the dream and the symbols within, a reader can cast Raskolnikov, as well as other characters from Crime And Punishment, into any of the various parts in the dream. Each part that a character takes on leads to a different conclusion about that character. Raskolnikov himself "fits" into the positions of Mikolka, the child, and the mare. If Mikolka, the drunken owner of the mare, were to represent Raskolnikov, then the mare would most probably represent Alyona Ivanovna. The senseless beating of the mare by Mikolka is similar to the brutal attack on Alyona by Rodion. These heartless attacks foreshadow the crime that Raskolnikov is contemplating. Dostoevsky unveils Raskolnikov's cruel side during this dream, if it is to be interpreted in this way.
Similarly, the little boy could represent Raskolnikov’s compassionate side. The child, watching the beating, realizes the absurdity of it. He even rushes to Mikolka, ready to punish him for killing the mare. This illustrates Rodion's internal struggle while contemplating the murder of Alyona. His humane side, the child, tells him to ‘live and let live’. And his "extraordinary" side, according to his definition, tells him that he should eliminate Alyona altogether, for the good of mankind.
The flip side of this is that the mare itself could represent Raskolnikov. However, the burden which the mare must carry (the cart, the people, etc.
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) could represent two separate things, depending on if it is viewed in context before or after the actual murder. Before the murder, the burden could represent the moral question that is plaguing Rodion. Should he kill Alyona? Or should he leave her be? Because of the importance of this question to Raskolnikov, it weighs him down heavily at first. However, later on, he rashly decides to kill Alyona. If looked upon after the murder, the load on the mare in the dream could represent the mental burden placed on Rodion. He had a burden of guilt on him, and he could not justify the murder even according to his own theory. Even though Porfiry Petrovitch did not have many of the people purposely harassing Raskolnikov by mentioning various facets of the murder, it was as if those who were "beating" the truth out of him were pawns of Porfiry (or that of truth and the law in general), just as those beating the life out of the mare were pawns of Mikolka (or that of cruelty).
Two other characters of the novel represent the two different sides to Raskolnikov, Sonya Marmeladov and Svidrigailov. Sonya is the warm side of Raskolnikov. She is a prostitute forced into that field because her father drinks away all of the money in the family. She is meek and submissive. She will give her father her last copeck even if he comes to her totally drunk. Raskolnikov is at once attracted to and repulsed by this personality. Svidrigailov is the cold and detached personality that Raskolnikov both hates and embraces. The goal of the novel is to make Raskolnikov into one character. Sonya helps bring Raskolnikov back into his humane side. Through her suffering, she shows him that it is important to have a love for all humanity and that no person should ever be able to exist like a parasite off of another person. Porifery acts as the intellectual who shows Raskolnikov that all intellect must be used for the good of mankind. Throughout the novel Dostoevsky uses many characters and symbols to represent two very distinct personalities and viewpoints of the main character, Raskolnikov. The novel is founded on the distinctions between the two points of view, and the reader gets both angles. Both Raskolnikov's generous and evil actions are essential to his character because they allow the reader to identify with these two points of view and the two facets of his personality.