Fyodor Essay, Research Paper
The author by essence is the creator of his book akin to God creating in his own like image in man. With this in mind, Fyodor Dostoevsky through writing Crime and Punishment creates the essence of man that he believes to be a replica of himself. By creating specific characters in his novel, Dostoevsky demonstrates his likes and dislikes in humankind. Readers will find that the distinction between good and bad is not that simple to determine. Instead, there is a m lange of the characters personalities that determines what Dostoevsky admires or abhors in the characters personality traits.
After reading the novel determining an understanding of Dostoevsky s personal value system is easy to decipher. A quick analysis of the main character, Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, leads to the parallel of Rodion and Fyodor. Fyodor s life was as dark and dramatic as the great novels he wrote. Born in Moscow in 1821, he was the son of a former army surgeon who was killed by his own serfs because of his alcoholism and the brutality that followed his drinking fits. He was never close to his father possibly because of alcoholism, this is creates a hatred towards fatherly figures. The only father seen in the novel, Marmeladov, is a drunkard and is portrayed as a dead-beat dad, who only drank and did not tend to his family s need, but instead added to their misfortunes. Alcoholism is a massive problem that is mentioned in the book among numerous characters; consequently, Fyodor shuns it for this reason. He abhorred alcoholics, especially alcoholic fathers.
Rodion imprisoned in the novel is the replica of Fyodor in reality. After his successful release of his first novel Poor Folk in 1846 at age twenty-eight, he was arrested on account of publishing illegal articles of rebellion against Czar Nicholas I advocating changes in Russian society in 1849. Another parallel is seen as the person with power is to be thrown out of their rank by the mild mannered citizen i.e. Rodya and the Pawnbroker, Fyodor and Czar Nicholas I. When the Fyodor was waiting to be executed by the Czar’s firing squad, a royal messenger dramatically announced a reprieve. Fyodor s life was spared. This escape from death, followed by four years of imprisonment in Siberia definitely left its mark on his life and work. Simply this was just a sign of the power that the Czar had over those who opposed him, similar to the Alyona Ivanova, the pawnbroker, who was accused of mistreating the poor people she worked with. She was a stingy miser who did not even leave a cent to her dear sister s name, but instead donated her money to a church in her honor. Coincidence, I think not. This comparison is made to support the “superman” theory created by the German philosopher Georg Friedrich Hegel, where an extraordinary individual, Rodya, is set apart from most other men. Hegel and his colleague Nietzsche had written a great deal on the subject where he suggested that a superman works for the good of mankind, whereas Nietzsche’s idea was that a superman was primarily interested in self-gratification. Raskolnikov is the epitome of the superman theory that is used as reasoning to justify the murder he commits. Compare both, Rodya and Fyodor, and find uncanny similarities.
Suffering is a stepping stool for determining what type of personality will arise. Both Raskolnikov and Fyodor are imprisoned on heavy accounts, murder and defying the Czar, but are only given light sentences, on of ten years and the other eight. This imprisonment of the brilliant, yet emotionally unstable author leads him to believe that in order for punishment to work, it had to make the criminal accept his own guilt. His ideas about rehabilitating criminals were far ahead of the accepted attitudes of his time. There are other experiences in Dostoevsky’s life that are important to understand exactly what he admires and abhors in human personalities. At the age of seventeen he left home to study engineering in a military school, Leningrad, in St. Petersburg. He was miserable there, because he was really more interested in literature, than in what he was taking up. He was incredible poverty plagued in his student life, like Raskolnikov. Often hungry, he knew all about pawnbrokers as a poor man’s only source of money . He dwelled among taverns and discovered the dirty roots of life in the city. The stifling air that engulfed the poverty-stricken slums and the obtuse drunken crowds in the Haymarket Square section of St. Petersburg are so vividly captured in Crime and Punishment because he alone had known this from his own personal experiences. From the beginning Dostoevsky’s fiction depicted desperately poor men and women as victims and they all needed a superman. He was the superman for the poor, a Russian Robin Hood.
Fyodor in Crime and Punishment suggests a dominant connection between emotional instability and physical illness. Clearly, Raskolnikov suffered from this, along with Katerina. Dostoevsky shows the reader the duality of Raskolnikov; a revolting, self-centered character that escapes the punishment v. the poor man tortured by is conscience and pity for the impoverished and impecunious. The outcome of the novel supports that Dostoevsky believes that Raskolnikov can be rehabilitated, so he believes he can be also. He basks in the idea of believing brilliant and more gifted people own the right to commit crime to accomplish his virtually anything. On the other side lies the ability to do good by helping those less fortunate i.e. Raskolnikov saving his sister from virtually prostitution from his mother in an unhappy marriage, wanting to aid the hapless and miserable Marmeladov family, but he is unable to rile himself to find a way to break the grip of poverty. A duality is found in all man, but man himself must find the meaning of what he must do in order to find happiness with themselves or else be alienated from humanity.
Finding this happiness comes from having strong religious beliefs. He finds this happiness by confessing to the holy prostitute, Sonia, a character with a blatant duality. She has strong beliefs in the power of God and eventually makes Raskolnikov see this through her love. She is seen with a positive outlook that even though she suffers now, God will provide for those who are weak. This does come true in the novel, when her siblings are placed in a good orphanage and she can set aside her sinful prostitution and also in the repenting of Raskolnikov at the crossroads. Here, the most positive reason is that he recognizes he has done wrong and must be punished. A vital ideal in religion is the ability of recognizing your own sins will lead to salvation with God . Sonia is labeled by Dostoevsky as the apex of goodness in the novel because of her strong beliefs that her suffering is not unaccountable, but instead will be rewarded by the merciful love of God.
A lack of the power of God s love will lead to the final destination of the emptiness of death. Svidrigailov is also as malevolent as Rodya in his crimes, but there is a distinct line that defines what Fyodor abhors in Svidrigailov. Both men are haunted in their dreams by frightening images of death and both have a relationship with a female counterpart, Dounia for Svidrigailov and Sonia for Rodya. But the bottom line is that Sonia and Rodya had true love in their relationship, which leads to the salvation of Rodya; contrastingly, Dounia hated Svidrigailov because there was a fetish only for physical attraction and sexual pleasure and never an ounce of love expressed between the two. This defines life and death. Svidrigailov committed suicide because he realized no one loved him, but Raskolnikov was saved because he had been loved and was opened to the power it possessed.
Fyodor Dostoevsky knows that life is not as simple as black and white, but instead is a gray confusion, full of suffering, yet is blessed with the power of love. There is a duality in all man and those he comes across. This coexistence with others and their individual personalities forms the mold of man. Through Raskolnikov s own crime and punishment, it is easy to understand the mold that formed the basis of Dostoevsky’s belief that suffering can bring about a great change if strong religious beliefs similar to the Catholic beliefs of forgiveness leading to salvation and resurrection are brought about through the reflection of one s self through the hardships of suffering.