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 the intellectual. He is cold,
unfeeling and inhumane. He exibits tremendous self-will. 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.
The confusion in Raskolnikov s soul is best seen when he tries to
help a girl in the street who has been raped and left to the whims of
anyone who finds her. Raskolnikov tries to protect her from the evil
of the street, gut then stops himself when he is revulsed by the
wickedness of his society. Why did I take it upon myself to interfere?
Was it for me to try to help? Let them eat one another alive - what is
it to me? At one time Raskolnikov is both caring and concerned and yet
he is able to push aside the whole affair by being totally
This is how Raskolnikov is able to commit his crime. His
intellectual side ignores his conscience and is able to commit the
crime in a rational and orderly way. It is his dual character thta
serves as his punishment. One side of him is able to commit the
murders so the other must bear the punishment. He is torured by the
cruelty in mankind and yet he himself is able to repeat it.
Ralkolnokove justifies his crime through a philosophy that he has
come up with. The man with power is the man to rule over all others.
But this power is only given to those who dare to take it. Raskolnikov
wanted to see if he had the courage to take that power. He also had to
battle with his rationalization of the murbers. He claimed that since
Alyona, the first murder victim, was such a parasite to people,it was
all right to kill her. He never mentions his other victim, Lizaveta,
because she was the sweet and harmless one who s murder he cannot
The two other characters of the novel who represent these two
different sides are Sonya Marmeladov and Svidrigailov. Sonya is the
warm side of Raskolnikov. She is a prostitute forced into that feild
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 detatched
personality that Raskolnikov both loathes and embraces.
The goal of the novel is to make Raskolnikov into one character.
Sonya helps bring Raskolnikov back into his emotional, 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, the official
investigating the crime, acts as the intellectual who shows
Roskolnikov that all intellect must be used for the good of mankind.
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