Crime And Punishment Essay, Research Paper
Crime and Punishment was the second of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s most important, mature fictional works. It was first published in the conservative journal The Russian Messenger, appearing in twelve monthly installments in 1866. Dostoevsky left three full notebooks of materials pertinent to Crime and Punishment. These have been published under the title The Notebooks for Crime and Punishment, edited and translated by Edward Wasiolek. Dostoevsky began work on this novel in the summer of 1865. He originally planned to title it The Drunkards, but in the final version, the theme of drunkenness as a social problem, represented by the Marmeladov family, had shrunk to a minor role. In September of 1865 Dostoevsky wrote a letter to M. N. Katkov, the editor of The Russian Messenger, attempting to persuade Katkov to accept the novel and to publish it in his journal. To show Katkov that the new novel was suitable for publication in a conservative journal, Dostoevsky outlined its content and idea as follows:
The idea of the novel cannot, as far as I can see, contradict the tenor of your journal; in fact, the very opposite is true. The novel is a psycho- logical account of a crime. A young man of middle-class origin who is living in dire need is expelled from the university. From superficial and weak thinking, having been influenced by certain “unfinished” ideas in the air, he decides to get himself out of a difficult situation quickly by killing an old woman, a usurer and widow of a government servant. The old woman is crazy, deaf, sick, greedy, and evil. She charges scandalous rates of interest, devours the well-being of others, and, having reduced her younger sister to the state of a servant, oppresses her with work. She is good for nothing. “Why does she live?” “Is she useful to anyone at all?” These and other questions carry the young man’s mind astray. He decides to kill and rob her so as to make his mother, who is living in the provinces, happy; to save his sister from the libidinous importunities of the head of the estate where she is serving as a lady’s companion; and then to finish his studies, go abroad and be for the rest of his life honest, firm, and unflinching in fulfilling his humanitarian duty toward mankind. This would, according to him, “make up for the crime,” if one can call this act a crime, which is committed against an old, deaf, crazy, evil, sick woman, who does not know why she is living and who would perhaps die in a month anyway. Despite the fact that such crimes are usually done with great difficulty because criminals always leave rather obvious clues and leave much to chance, which almost always betrays them, he is able to commit his crime, completely by chance, quickly and successfully. After this, a month passes before events come to a definite climax. There is not, nor can there be, any suspicion of him. After the act the psycho- logical process of the crime unfolds. Questions which he cannot resolve well up in the murderer; feelings he had not foreseen or suspected torment his heart. God’s truth and earthly law take their toll, and he feels forced at last to give himself up. He is forced even if it means dying in prison, so that he may once again be part of the people. The feeling of separation and isolation from mankind, nature, and the law of truth take their toll. The criminal decides to accept suffering so as to redeem his deed. But it is difficult for me to explain in full my thinking.
Katkov accepted Crime and Punishment for publication in his journal.
It was well received by the public and restored Dostoevsky to the position of a leading Russian writer, despite a largely unfavorable reaction from the liberal press. The reason for its long standing appeal is that rather than this being a whodunit Crime and Punishment is more like a whydunnit . Through its exploration of the mind of a murderer, the reader is drawn to the dualism and use of doubles (doppelgangers) that Dostoevsky so expertly calls upon to elicit sympathy and understanding for the murderer, Raskolnikov.
Crime and Punishment is a novel exploring the dualism of the human mind by exploring the bipolarization of conscience and reason through the actions of its protagonist, Rodia Raskolnikov. Raskolnikov, an expelled university student, feels compelled to commit murder. He rationalizes that he is superior and therefore exempt from traditional laws. In this distorted belief Raskolnikov clearly embraces the theory of the nihilist. The Columbia Encyclopedia defines Nihilism as:
the theory of revolution popular among Russian extremists until the fall of the czarist government (1917); the theory was given its name by Ivan Turgenev in his novel Fathers and Sons (1861). Nihilism stressed the need to destroy existing economic and social institutions, whatever the projected nature of the better order for which the destruction was to prepare. Nihilists were not without constructive programs, but agreement on these was not essential to the immediate objective, destruction. Direct action, such as assassination and arson, was characteristic. Such acts were not necessarily directed by any central authority. Small groups and even individuals were encouraged to plan and execute terroristic acts independently. The assassination of Czar Alexander II was one result of such terrorist activities. The constructive programs published by nihilists include the establishing of a parliamentary government; the programs were on the whole moderate in comparison with the revolutionary measures of 1917. Nihilism was too diffuse and negative to persist as a movement and gradually gave way to other philosophies of revolt; it remained, however, an element in later Russian thought.
Although Raskolnikov adopts nihilism as an aspect of his belief system, he later finds himself tormented by his conscience, which does not recognize Raskolnikov’s feelings of superiority. Webster s New World Dictionary defines conscience as: intentions, or character together with a feeling of obligation to do right or be good; while the definition of reason is: a sufficient ground of explanation or of logical defense; especially: something that supports a conclusion or explains a fact. Conscience and reason differ because the actions of the individual are based on two separate standards. Conscience is dependent upon a moral standard while reason is dependent upon a logical defense. Raskolnikov acted with flawed reason in a situation that clearly called for conscience. Dostoevsky further demonstrates the issue of duality through the use of Raskolnikov’s doubles or doppelgangers, mainly Sonia Semenovna and Arcadius Ivanovitch Svidrigaylov. Sonia and Svidrigaylov represent the two opposing forces in Raskolnikov’s nature. By observing Sonia’s refusal to abandon her morals and Svidrigaylov’s continual perpetuation of immorality, the reader sees that one’s emotion is victor over reason.
These techniques employed by Dostoevsky, the use of the double and dualism, brought to light the sociological and psychological factors underpinning the protagonist’s descent into immorality. By using these devices Dostoevsky gives the reader reason to have sympathy for a character who would otherwise be an unredeemable villain. Crime and Punishment employed both methods in order for the character of Raskolnikov to receive redemption and become a hero rather than a vile murderer. The first method, that of dualism, will be explored first. To properly explain dualism in Crime and Punishment it is necessary to understand what dualism encompasses.
Dualism, in philosophy, the theory that the universe is explicable only as a whole composed of two distinct and mutually irreducible elements. In Platonic philosophy the ultimate dualism is between “being” and “nonbeing”-that is, between ideas and matter. In the 17th century, dualism took the form of belief in two fundamental substances: mind and matter. French philosopher Ren Descartes, whose interpretation of the universe exemplifies this belief, was the first to emphasize the irreconcilable difference between thinking substance (mind) and extended substance (matter). The difficulty created by this view was to explain how mind and matter interact, as they apparently do in human experience. This perplexity caused some Cartesians to deny entirely any interaction between the two. They asserted that mind and matter are inherently incapable of affecting each other, and that any reciprocal action between the two is caused by God, who, on the occasion of a change in one, produces a corresponding change in the other..
In the 20th century, reaction against the monistic aspects of the philosophy of idealism has to some degree revived dualism. One of the most interesting defenses of dualism is that of Anglo-American psychologist William McDougall, who divided the universe into spirit and matter and maintained that good evidence, both psychological and biological, indicates the spiritual basis of physiological processes. French philosopher Henri Bergson in his great philosophic work Matter and Memory likewise took a dualistic position, defining matter as what we perceive with our senses and possessing in itself the qualities that we perceive in it, such as color and resistance. Mind, on the other hand, reveals itself as memory, the faculty of storing up the past and utilizing it for modifying our present actions, which otherwise would be merely mechanical. Dualism in ethics describes the recognition of the independent and opposing principles of good and evil. This dualism is exemplified in Zoroastrianism and in the Manichaean religion.
A combination of the Bergson and ethical approaches to dualism are apparent in Crime and Punishment. The use of dualism is a prevalent consideration to the critical approach to Dostoevsky. George Gibian writes:
The underlying antithesis of Crime and Punishment, the conflict between the side of reason, selfishness, and pride, and that of acceptance of suffering, closeness to life-sustaining Earth, and love, sounds insipid and platitudinous when stated in such general fashion as we have done here. Dostoevsky, however, does not present it in the form of abstract statement alone. He conveys it with superb dialectical skill, and when we do find direct statements in the novel, they are intentionally made so inadequate as to make us realize all the more clearly their disappointing irrelevancy and to lead us to seek a richer representation in other modes of discourse. (970-976).
Further critical appraisals of Crime and Punishment point to the true reason for its writing as a piece of propaganda meant to cast aspersions on the practice of nihilists.
Nihilism is perhaps the most important philosophical issue raised in the novel. It can be studied in connection with Raskolnikov and his crime, but also in connection with Svidragailov, Lebezyatnikov and Luzhin. The nihilists believed that ethics should be based on scientific claims and that man could create a perfect society (a rational utopia) if he lived according to the principle of enlightened self-interest. The distortion of this notion is seen in Raskolnikov’s justification of murder, Luzhin’s self-centered motives as Dunia’s benefactor, and Lebezyatnikov’s vulgarization of the idea of progress. By rejecting moral absolutes and Christian belief, these nihilists were able to argue that values are relative and that self-interest (what they called “rational egoism”) is the means to the end of perfecting social problems. With this program they explained all irrational behaviors and psychological disorders– and especially crime–as the result of social forces and the environment; further, their optimistic belief that ethics should be based on scientific principles led them to reject traditional religious values. (Glicksberg 75-79)
Much like the core value of the nihilist Dostoyevsky’s conflicted hero, the student Raskolnikov, is driven to test the limits of his freedom: If he is truly free, then “everything is permitted” and he should be able to step beyond the accepted limits of right and wrong. Pondering ideas current in his time, he convinces himself that true, rational morality means doing the greatest good for the greatest number of people. On that basis he tries to justify intellectually his murder of an old pawnbroker who accumulated money by exploiting the misfortunes of others. But instead of committing murder coolly and using the pawnbroker’s money to do good, Raskolnikov is haunted by what he has done. He eventually confesses his crime, influenced by the selfless love of a prostitute, Sonia; by the psychological probings of Porfiry, the detective investigating the murder; and by his repulsion at Svidrigailov, a character who flouts moral standards. Only at the end of the novel, in his Siberian prison, does Raskolnikov finally begin to recognize that he has violated not just a human law but God’s law as well.
Crime and Punishment is the story of the battle between Raskolnikov’s intellectual arrogance and his conscience. He constantly attempts to run from his conscience but he can’t escape it. Ironic events force Raskolnikov to face the conflict and ultimately decide his destiny. Dostoevsky uses this device to explain the complex conflict raging within Raskolnikov, and in turn to reveal his message about mankind: that anyone through the acceptance of guilt and suffering can be reformed. Although Raskolnikov commits murder, through his guilt and the love of others towards him, he is saved.
Dreams in literature are often used as a tool that enables the reader to gain insight into the character s subconscious demons. This is apparent in the infamous horse dream of Crime and Punishment. Critics, such as Rene Welleck aver that
[t]his dream is crucial in showing the dualism of Raskolnikov. Through the analysis of this dream the reader can more fully understand the nature of the internal split that plagues Raskolnikov. This dream, enacting a tragic catharsis, is introduced with calculated ambiguity. Is the dreamer actually remembering an episode of his childhood or is he imagining the memory? In any case, thought the dream is of the past its meaning is all in the present. The pitiful little mare, whipped across the eyes and butchered by Mikolka and a crowd of rowdy peasants, stands for all such victims of life s insensate cruelty, in particular such victims as Sonya and Lizaveta whose appeal to Raskolnikov is that of poor gentle things . . whose eyes are soft and gentle. Also, the mare stands above all for Raskolnikov himself, and in embracing her bleeding head in a frenzy of compassion it is himself he is embracing, bewailing, consoling. He is present in the dream not only as the little boy witnessing an act of intolerable brutality but as at once its perpetrator and victim too. The dream s imagery is entirely prospective in that it points ahead, anticipating the murder Raskolnikov is plotting even while exposing it as an act of self-murder. Its latent though-content is a warning that in killing the pawnbroker he would be killing himself took and it is indeed in this light that he understands his deed afterwards when, in confessing to Sonya, he cries out: Did I murder the old woman? I murdered myself, not her! I crushed myself once and for all, forever. The cathartic effect of the dream is such that upon awakening he recovers the sense of his human reality, feeling as though an abscess that had been forming in his heart had suddenly broken . . . he was free from that spell, that sorcery, that obsession. But the catharsis is momentary, and he no sooner hears that the pawnbroker will be alone in her flat the next evening than he is again gripped by his obsession. (18)
Raskolnikov can only purge himself of his guilt through suffering. He deals with the mental and physical tribulation brought upon him by his crime. His troubles are compounded by the conflicting personalities which he possesses. The reader is inclined to characterize him by his cold, intellectual side. Without the contrasting humane side of his nature; however, Raskolnikov never realizes the errors in his theory and actions. Raskolnikov is defined by the dualistic nature of his personality, with each facet being just as vital as the other.
Raskolnikov’s cold side leads him to develop his theory, and thus to commit murder. This side of him bases all decisions on reason and rationalization (although it is sometimes incorrect), rather than on feeling. It is purely stoical, without emotion. The other side of his character is kind and compassionate. Without this side being presented the reader views him as an evil murderer, and not a mislead victim, as Dostoevsky intends.
In the novel Raskolnikov engages in sporadic acts of kindness. He gives money to the Marmeladov family, he attempts to aid Marmeladov when he dies, and he tries to get a drunken girl home and away from her pursuer. All of these deeds were done without premeditation. He simply feels that at the time it is the right thing to do. After a short period of time his outlook dramatically reverses. He starts to rationally analyze what he has done, and then feels that his actions were stupid. This transition marks the return of his cold side, and it occurs after every kind thing that Raskolnikov does.
These shifts between two distinct personalities give Raskolnikov two separate points of view. 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.
Further criticism downplays the importance of dualism as a theme to this novel and points out that it is secondary to the greater message of finding redemption through Christ. Although this does not negate the use of dualism and doubles, it gives these actions a different perspective downplaying them to the readers. A synopsis of Crime and Punishment as offered by The Columbia Encyclopedia promotes the psychological exploration in relation to what this novel is truly about; however, it makes clear the importance of the redemption through Christ s salvation.
In Prestuplenie i nakazanie (Crime and Punishment) Raskol’nikov’s espousal of a `rational’ superman morality results only in the squalid murder of a pawnbroker, followed by Raskol’nikov’s own self-torment which eventually leads him to an unconvincing `salvation’. . . Dostoevskii’s heroes are strong but divided personalities, engaged in intimate and frequently mortal debate with themselves, their `doubles’, and the reader over the moral basis of their actions. His murder-centred plots are a visionary, fantastic, and mythically structured re-working of the sensational and extremist life observed in his journalism. The polarized themes of reason and unreason, faith and unbelief, moral freedom and moral slavery, frame the tension of modern man, a tension which finds a precarious resolution in the vision of Christ, Dostoevsky s moral-aesthetic ideal.
It is not salvation; however, which dominates this novel. Clearly doubles and dualism is of predominate importance. In choosing Raskolnikov’s name, he has given one important clue to his character. The word raskol, in Russian, means “schism” or “split.” Dualism is the key to Raskolnikov’s character. He is torn between the desire to do evil and the desire to do good.
Raskolnikov is so torn apart by conflicting thoughts and desires that he often seems to be two characters. Indeed, Dostoevsky’s technique is to surround Raskolnikov with complementary or opposing others that mirror his repressed inner self. The reader soon notices that one side of his personality is aggressive and detached, like Svidrigailov, while the other is caring and compassionate, like Sonya. In a schematic sense, Sonia is a double that represents his metaphysical, spiritual side, Svidragailov a double that stands for his physical, nihilistic side.
Throughout the novel, Raskolnikov moves, alternately, from one to the other as he attempts to resolve the burden of a guilty conscience. Even the space in which he moves reflects the dual nature of his personality. When he visits Svidragailov in the tavern, it is a descent into the darker (or subterranean) parts of his soul; conversely, when he follows Sonya to her apartment, he ascends into a spacious room with high ceilings, an ascent, as it were, into the realm of the spirit. After the crime, these two alter egos compete for Raskolnikov’s attentions. However, because of his pride, he tries to hide from any open acknowledgment of either one. This mask of denial is the basis of Dostoevsky’s irony in scenes where Raskolnikov is clearly drawn to the spiritual side of Sonya or the criminal side of Svidrigailov. Raskolnikov especially finds it hard to admit that he is drawn to a self-denying victim like Sonya because it violates his idea of the superman. It is a bit easier to identify with an aggressive victimizer like Svidrigailov. This is because he embodies the ruthless behavior of a man who has overstepped the laws of society. But until the epilogue, Raskolnikov is attracted to these opposing doubles. As Dostoevsky’s notebooks suggest, it is a conflict between innate feelings and ideology. Sonya represents Raskolnikov’s innate morality and the goodness of his heart, while Svidrigailov stands for the evil of abstract theories. Not surprisingly, when Svidrigailov dies, the theoretical voice of Raskolnikov’s personality seems to fade out and the Sonya voice begins to speak with greater conviction. Although this is not a total unmasking of the lie of nihilism, it is an important first step towards confession.
Yet it is not only the physical landscape that amplifies and reflects Raskolnikov’s inner condition. Dostoyevsky’s handling of other characters also plays a key role in the development and exposition of the central figure. As Raskolnikov moves through the city, he seems to move through a charged atmosphere in which every encounter triggers a resonant response in his soul. Thus, his chance meeting with Marmeladov introduces the concepts of suffering and self-sacrifice, concepts that will become so important to Raskolnikov later in the novel. More importantly, the characters who surround Raskolnikov often seem to serve as potential doubles or alter egos. That is, the traits that these characters embody represent potential directions for Raskolnikov himself. On one side stands the humble Sonya. She is willing to sacrifice herself for her family, and she puts the ideals of love and service to one’s fellow humans above any notion of self-aggrandizement. On the other side stands the corrupt Svidrigailov. He indulges in extreme forms of debauchery simply to relieve his boredom. Svidrigailov tells Raskolnikov that he considers the young man to be something of a kindred spirit, and although Raskolnikov does not wish to admit it, he senses that there may be some validity to Svidrigailov’s assertions. When Svidrigailov informs Sonya that Raskolnikov only has two paths to choose from, either a bullet in the brain or Siberia, he has effectively identified the choices that lie in front of the wretched young man. Only Sonya’s appearance outside the police station at the end of the main section of the novel prevents Raskolnikov from emulating Svidrigailov’s example and committing suicide. Instead, he follows her advice, confesses his crime, and with her love and support he ultimately finds redemption in Siberia.
Porfiry is the only character who is Raskolnikov’s intellectual equal, and the only one who understands the complex motives for his crime. The ironic, mocking tone he uses to talk to Raskolnikov reminds some readers of the arrogance Raskolnikov himself shows other people. The investigator’s emphasis on psychological analysis as a way of detecting criminals is almost as revolutionary as Raskolnikov’s belief in crimes of principle. The major difference between them is that Porfiry’s theory stresses the social good, while Raskolnikov’s means social anarchy. Some critics suggest that Dostoevsky intends Porfiry to represent Russian solutions to Russian problems in contrast to the Western European sources of Raskolnikov’s mistaken theories.
It is with Svidrigailov that the idea of the double is most fully developed. Apparently he had a real prototype; the notebooks call him Aristov, after a character in the prison memoirs. He is surrounded with details connected with the Gothic tradition, underlining the emergence of doubling from the literature of the supernatural. The fact that we have heard many terrible things about this major character before he actually appears adds much to the suspense surrounding him. He appears at the end of a nightmare, the dream reenactment is a continuation of that dream. Note that this is precisely the halfway point of the novel, adding to the character s centrality. Furthermore his appearance straddles a boundary, not only between chapters, but between parts, meaning that readers wait for the next monthly installment (in this case it was two months) to find out more. Making readers wait for the next move of a mysterious character is a classic device to heighten suspense.
Raskolnikov himself is unable to understand his own behavior, and his suffering is not only intellectual and spiritual, but also aesthetic, for he is offended by the ugliness of his crime (vividly illustrated by his dream in which a horse is savagely beaten). Critic Philip Rahv noted that
Dostoevsky was the first novelist to dramatize the principle of uncertainty or indeterminacy in the presentation of character, and many other scholars agree that this skillfully depicted uncertainty is a key to the novel’s greatness. Raskolnikov resembles other Dostoevskian characters in his dual naturein fact, his name is derived from the Russian word for split. On one side is the cold, exacting intellect, and on the other is the warm, imperfect humanity; he is torn between the two sides. After a long period of suffering and punishment both before and after confessing to the murders, Raskolnikov finally achieves redemption through the Christian faith. Yet many scholars find this redemption unconvincing; they claim that Raskolnikov never truly repents his crime and remains proud and isolated to the end. Nevertheless, the character Raskolnikov has generated much critical attention since the novel’s publication, and the authentic impact he continues to make on readers attests to Dostoevsky’s complex, skillful characterization. (27-30).
Dostoevsky often uses secondary characters to mirror his protagonist, and Svidrigailov is frequently seen as the embodiment of Raskolnikov’s destructiveness and yearning for power. Critic R.P. Blackmur calls him Raskolnikov’s other self, and most other scholars concur. Raskolnikov senses his similarity to Svidrigailov even though he is repelled by the man, and Svidrigailov also perceives their likeness. Svidrigailov’s decision to kill himself attests to his profound ennui and despair. Dostoevsky has often been praised for creating in Svidrigailov a complex character whose wickedness is tempered with flickers of compassionhe gives both Dounia and the Marmeladovs money they desperately need, and he allows Dounia to escape even after she has tried to kill him. Svidrigailov resembles not so much a gothic villain with a completely evil nature, but a human being whose behavior has destroyed others and, ultimately, himself.
Sonia Marmeladov represents Raskolnikov’s capacity for good. Said to be based on Dostoevski’s second wife, Anna Snitkina (reportedly a stabilizing influence in his life), Sonia is a fair-haired, thin, pale eighteen-year-old whose gaudy clothing contrasts with her gentle expression and remarkable blue eyes. Though her family’s deprivation has forced Sonia to become a prostitute, her true nature is pure and spiritual. Passive and self-sacrificing, she submits willingly to the humiliation of her occupation. Sonia is the novel’s representative of Christianity; it is she who pleads with Raskolnikov to seek redemption through suffering and faith, and her influence ultimately triumphs. Through Sonia, Dostoevsky voices several of the novel’s concerns: when Raskolnikov questions the morality of her own choice during their discussion of his guilt, for instance, she asks, What, then, is to be done? The difficulty of overcoming despair is a theme frequently explored in Russian literature. She also reads to Raskolnikov the biblical story of Lazarus, thus illustrating both her faith in miracles and her desire to raise Raskolnikov from the dead, as it were. Sonia immediately forgives him when he confesses his crime and in general refuses to judge or condemn other human beings. Some critics have found Sonia colorless and unrealistic, but most consider her a compelling embodiment of faith.
Sonia’s father, Marmeladov, is the cause of his family’s deprivation, choosing to spend his time drinking rather than trying to improve their situation. Dostoevsky’s depiction of the Marmeladovs’ poverty has been seen as generally symbolic of suffering and pain in the world; it illustrates specifically how a family may be destroyed through alcoholism, a subject that is known to have interested and troubled Dostoevsky. Marmeladov’s bloated face, wild eyes, messy hair, and disorderly clothing signify his degradation. His wordy, self-berating lamentation in the tavern about the course of his downfall and the pain he has inflicted on his higher-born wife and unfortunate children is both comic and pathetic. Marmeladov has been interpreted as yet another double of Raskolnikov, reflecting the isolation, thwarted ambition, and feeling of debasement that typify Raskolnikov. Also like Raskolnikov, Marmeladov has brought harm upon himself and others for no apparent reason.
Raskolnikov’s close friend, Dmitri Razumihin, is much more sympathetically portrayed. His name derives from the Russian word for reason, and he serves as a good-hearted, hardworking foil to the tortured, self-involved Raskolnikov. He provides hospitality to Raskolnikov’s mother and sister when Raskolnikov neglects them, and he eventually falls in love with Dounia and founds a publishing business that will support them after Raskolnikov is exiled to Siberia. Though Razumihin is fond of his friend and loyal to him, he has no illusions about Raskolnikov and perceives the dual nature of his personality. (Cox, 345-346).
In what way, then, does Svidrigailov double Raskolnikov? Both are murders in a sense, for Svidrigailov appears to be morally, if not legally, responsible for the deaths of two individuals, or at lease we are led to believe this by several characters with the narrator s complicity. And yet during their first conversation, Svidrigailov is unaware of Raskolnikov s murder. Even so, it is Svidrigailov who presses the issue of their secret similarity in a criminal conscience. He seems to have prescient, not to say supernatural, knowledge of it. Well, didn t I say that there was some point in common between us? . . . It seems to me I did say it. Just a moment ago, after I came in and saw that you were lying there with your eyes closed, and you yourself were pretending right then I said to myself This is the very one! And later he adds: Well, didn t I tell the truth when I said that we were like two peas in a pod? (literally, one field of berries ). Raskolnikov is in a better position to appreciate their shared blood-guilt, but it is he who resists most strongly the idea that they are doubles. (Another psychoanalytic critic states that Svidrigailov is Raskolnikov s id (ono).
. . . surely the most interesting section of the epilogue from a literary and psychological point of view:
In his sickness he dreamed that the whole world was condemned to fall victim to some sort of horrible unheard-of and never before seen fatal plague, which was proceeding out of the depths of Asia into Europe. Everyone would perish except certain people, a very few chosen ones. Some sort of trichinae appeared microscopic creatures which would infect people s bodies. But these creatures were spirits, endowed with intellect and will. Once they had taken these creatures into their bodies, people would become possessed and insane right away. But never, never had people considered themselves so intelligent and so unshakeable in their knowledge of the truth as did these infected people.
The dream goes on to describe at length the mass-scale aggression that this intellectual infection produces, finally concluding as follows: The pestilence grew and moved further and further. The only people in the whole world who could save themselves were a few people, pure and chosen ones who had been predestined to found a new race of people and a new life, to renew and purify the earth, but no one had ever seen these people anywhere; no one had ever heard their words and their voices.
It is a dream about aggression for the sake of ideas, and as such it is a fitting epilogue to the novel and prologue to the twentieth century. It takes some of the aspects of Raskolnikov s individual intellectual aggression and sketches them out on a social and international canvas, showing how the same aggressive paradigms operate on the level of inter-group relations.
The impact of this novel on modern psychology is still discussed in criticisms today. The fresh and profound insights which Dostoevsky added to our knowledge of the human soul have been discussed thoroughly and admirably by many of his critics. All that needs to be done, therefore, is to remind the reader summarily of then; effort can be more profitably put into an analysis of the means through which these insights find expression. Thus, it is a commonplace that Dostoevsky anticipated Freud; that he was cognizant of the fact and understood the role of the unconscious; that he had a lucid knowledge of the duality exhibited by the human psyche and of its consequences; that he understood adequately the function of dreams; that he know how shame leads a man to frustrate the actions through which he attempts to appease it, and how pride is the expression of insecurity and shame; how cruelty constitutes self-castigation, and how injured vanity takes revenge through love. In short, all the insights that have become commonplaces since Freud were clearly his own; nor can I think of any important phenomenological datum furnished by the Viennese scientist which had escaped the observation of the Russian novelist. (Wellek, 74)
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