Crime And Punishment Essay, Research Paper
Mid-nineteenth-century Russia is a mass of people and marked by political suppression. It is cursed with poor living conditions and immorality. The brutality of existence in the city of St. Petersburg is where we find those who wish to rise above the chaos and madness of the time. We find Rodion Raskolinkov, a poor university student who murders a pawnbroker in order to prove to himself that he is not subject to moral law. Raskolinkov, like most of our kind, is isolated from himself, others and from God. In Crime and Punishment Fydor Dostoevsky weaves his own social and religious views into this character. Raskolinkov is an extension of Dostoevsky who believes that in order to survive the harshness of reality we must conform to society, authority and the Catholic faith. Raskolinkov is a reclusive character who is so absorbed in himself had he grown, so isolated from everyone else, that he was actually afraid of meeting anyone at all (Dostoevsky 33). Dostoevsky portrays him so since he wishes to hyperbolize us as human beings. We tend to get so engrossed in ourselves in our everyday lives that we tend to segregate ourselves from society. Raskolinkov doesn t care for anything or anyone and does not feel initial remorse after killing the pawnbroker and her sister. Raskolinkov tries to justify his intentions by saying that if one were to kill her and take her money, in order with its help to devote oneself to mankind and the common cause: what do you think- wouldn t one petty little crime like that be atoned for by all those thousands of good deeds? (Dostoevsky 101) His transformation from an unconcerned man to a remorseful one is symbolic of our society and how any wrongs that we may commit are redeemable. His suffering (Dostoevsky 27) is his penance. The authoritative figures in the novel are shown as insolent and incapable. The police are unable to catch the killer, therefore giving Raskolinkov a superiority complex. Dostoevsky himself was arrested along with a group of 20 others with whom he had been studying French socialist theories (Comptons Dostoevsky) This can be associated with Raskolinkov s feelings against the law. He begins to shout (Dostoevsky 138) at a lieutenant in the police station, after wrongfully killing two innocent women, blatantly mocking the law. This later changes when we are introduced to Porfiry Petrovich (Dostoevsky 301) the investigator of the murder and later the captor of Raskolinkov. This shows how, although there is inadequacy in the law, it must not be abused. All who commit crime are subject to the laws forged by society. Dostoevsky notes that the law is pertinent to our society and no matter how unjust, it must be abided by. Without order we are unable to live in a productive society and we therefore contribute to our inevitable demise.
Religion is a big factor concerning our society. Its nature and importance in our lives can be debated to the bitter end. Dostoevsky believes religion is pertinent for the redemption of our society. Raskolinkov, in the beginning of the novel, is far from being a God-fearing man. He is unable to grasp the concept of religion in his life. After confessing his murder and starting his gradual repentance to society in prison, Raskolinkov had under his pillow (Dostoevsky 630) a copy of the New Testament. Mechanically, he took it out. This book was hers, was the same one from which she had read to him of the raising of Lazarus (Dostoevsky 630) When Dostoevsky was imprisoned he read and reread the New Testament, the only book he had built an irrevocable bond with. Dostoevsky identified Christ as being with the common people of Russia (Comptons Dostoevsky). The story of Lazarus itself is one of rebirth and redemption, therefore is metaphorical for Raskolinkov s situation. Dostoevsky is telling us that in our lives if we do not have God, we do not have substance or meaning. Raskolinkov is indicative of society and ourselves. He is bigger than life, thereby enabling us to clearly recognize our own inadequacies. We tend to flout authority, society and religion in our lives. It is these faults that divide us as a people. We must realize that we are not the only ones in society and break free of our indifferences. By respecting authority in our lives we are able to find order in our substance. By welcoming the thought of God in our existence we are able to fill a void in our souls. Dostoevsky admits that the world may be acrimonious and that the only way we may survive is if we develop together as a society.