Duality Essay, Research Paper
The theory of duality of personality is exhibited clearly in Dostoevsky?s Crime and Punishment by the character Raskolnikov: Svidrigailov represents the cold, intellectual side of his personality and Sonia is a clear example of his humane, compassionate side. Let us examine these separate components of Raskolnikov?s social traits.
Svidrigailov is the distinct representation of Raskolnikov?s intellectual side which emphasizes self-will. He also represents a type of Nihilist superman. He feels that the world is essentially an evil place; therefore, in order to conform with the universe, he must be essentially evil. The universe, under this theory, is also meaningless and directionless, or man?s main coarse is for the gratification of appetite. Every act that Svidrigailov performs is for his own pleasure and to place him above common morality. Svidrigailov is not a true intellectual; but he does not allow minor human actions or morality or law to prevent him from having his way. Therefore, Raskolnikov can commit murders because of his theories, and Svidrigailov can carry out amoral acts for his own satisfaction. A perfect example of this would be that he rapes a thirteen year old girl and upon hearing that she hanged herself, he has no feelings of remorse. He also has no feelings of guilt for poisoning his wife and causing the death of his servant Petya. Raskolnikov?s intellectual side is immersed in his theory of the extraordinary man. Therefore, he must stand alone or have self will and not need human companionship just as Svidrigailov.
The opposing side of Raskolnikov?s character is Sonia Marmeladov. Her function is to redeem Raskolnikov. She represents Raskolnikov?s warm, compassionate, humane side. This portion of his character operates without thought. His initial thought and actions in a situation are representations of this aspect of his personality. Raskolnikov often carries out acts of charity or humanity and then, when he has intellectualized his actions; he regrets them. An example of this is when he gives the Marmeladovs his last bit of money, and then shortly after regrets having given the money away. If left to his immediate reactions, Raskolnikov would always act in a charitable and humane manner and sacrifice himself for his fellow man. No one is less fit for a life of prostitution than Sonia, but this was the only way that she could support her family. She is a martyr for her cause, or a Christ-figure. She represents the suffering of all humanity and Raskolnikov turns to her in order to help him with his suffering. She feels intense degradation and shame for her profession but she never had lost touch with God. Her simple faith in God is part of her strength. As Raskolnikov would sacrifice his money or his own self to benefit others, so does Sonia go into prostitution in order to benefit her family.
Raskolnikov?s actions in the novel seem strange and contradictory because of his duality. A perfect display of such inconsistencies in his character is his initial resistance to his sister?s engagement to Luzhin and then later feeling that she should marry ?whom she pleases.? His first reaction was with his humane side (Sonia) not wanting his sister to enter an undesirable marriage and then his intellectual side (Svidrigailov) contending that he must not concern himself with the insignificant problems of others.