Crime And Punishment Essay, Research Paper
Despite the mask we wear to seek refuge and to hide our suffering from the outside world, we as a society go to our own inner selves in determining the true value of personal suffering. Not for redemption, but for the feeling to be pitied for is why humans often dwell in emotional pain for a longer time than necessary. Dostoyevsky proves this theory to an extraordinary extent in Crime and Punishment. Dostoyevsky finds a way to drill deep into the human psyche and finds the solution to each individual s suffering. With ease, the reader can identify Dostoyevsky s message of gaining redemption through personal suffering. If this is the only conclusion readers draw in the end without further analysis, they have missed the subtle elaborations Dostoyevsky has intended for his novel. D.I. Pisarev states in his criticism that Raskolnikov suffers because he fears criminal punishment and tries too hard to analyze himself (Pisarev, 150). This is not true because his eventual criminal sufferings pale to the comparison of his inner self s struggle. While redemption through suffering is a huge them in the novel, it is not the complete idea. Why would personal suffering be the pinnacle of a novel that involves suffering between many characters? The punishment in Crime and Punishment is the ongoing battle of Raskolnikov s reluctance to see the suffering of others around him. From witnessing the misery of others, the characters of Dostoyevsky s novel develop a need to reach out and help. As evil as they may seem, each character seems to have a place in their heart to sympathize suffering and lend a helping hand. The motive for this intention varies from each character but the reaction to someone s agony is a recurring theme among every character. Thus, Dostoyevsky theorizes that in search of redemption from one s personal sufferings, humans seek the sufferings of others so that they may feel sympathy towards them and help others in need, which validates their chance at redemption.
Not what one expects in the hero of the story, Raskolnikov approaches the reader with pessimism and an ominous future. It is no coincidence that Dostoyevsky picked Raskolnikov for this character s name, which translates into split , immediately focusing on the ambivalence of this hero s actions, but more importantly, his thoughts. When analyzing Raskolnikov s suffering, the reader will realize his redemption is given to him slowly throughout the story, mostly given in the end. Raskolnikov s suffering can be seen as a block of ice brought into the unfamiliar atmosphere of room temperature. As the liquid state of water represents his amount of redemption, the ice slowly melts drop by drop. The stubborn coolness of the ice still remains in its solid form, but slowly, the warmth of the room, changing all the ice into liquid overcomes the cold. If there is anyone that represents the warmth of the room so well, it is Sonia, the daughter of Marmaledov who is driven into prostitution to care for her family. As the temperature of the room stays constant, the temperature of the ice will eventually meet an equilibrium closer to that of the room, bringing Raskolnikov closer to Sonia s ideas and moral values. Raskolnikov has the most difficult time seeing the suffering of others. Only until Sonia falls ill and cannot see him for several days is when he can finally realize the suffering of others and redeem his own to the fullest.
The agony of Marmeladov is one many can relate to. As society grows with more people with drinking problems, the reader s quickly recognize the bumbling rationalization of this drunken man. He has drunken his family into poverty and tells Raskolnikov of his hopelessness. George Gibian believes Marmeladov is still submerged in his selfish course of action (Gibian, 971). In the early chapters Marmeladov states, Because when I drink, I look for compassion, I look for feeling. I drink because I want to suffer (13). Marmeladov wants the people to pity him, but won t work to help his own self. Marmeladov is the catalyst for Raskolnikov s good will. After hearing the story of Marmeladov, Raskolnikov tries to reason with Marmeladov to help himself out. After the introduction of Marmeladov is when Dostoyevsky begins to introduce a guilty conscience in Raskolnikov s head. Raskolnikov begins to question why he ever thought of such a horrific act of violence. He says, How could I get an atrocity like that in my head? (7). Of course, Marmeladov wasn t enough to alter his decision. Gibian also states that Marmeladov welcomes suffering, but continues to spurn his responisbilities, trying to find ambiguous responses from people (Gibian, 972). The constant pity Raskolnikov receives throughout the story is shown even during the murders. Even while he is in the act of murder, the reader still feels compassion for Raskolnikov and finds it difficult to absolutely hate him. Instead, Dostoyevsky depicts a concerned picture of Raskolnikov as he franticly hides and runs from the scene, hiding the money and hallucinating at night. Readers try desperately to agree with Raskolnikov s motives for murder, even if the motives are still unclear.
Raskolnikov s theory of the extraordinary man is something he tries hard to follow, which is why it is so hard for him to realize his own suffering. Raskolnikov tries to step over the limits of his society s laws. How can he sympathize with the misery of another when he can t seem to find the root of his own suffering? Fortunately for Raskolnikov, he is oblivious to al suffering, including his own, for the majority of the story. Some characters seem too blinded by their own suffering to gain redemption in time.
The pride of the poor is a theme to look at while analyzing Marmeladov s wife Katherine. Katherine is a character who also endures a great deal of suffering. A descendant of a high-class family, her life plummets as her second husband drinks his and his family s life away. During the party, Katherine finds ways to ignore people of the lower class, calling someone, a drunken jackass (368). But her pride keeps her from receiving redemption. The true suffering of Katherine is revealed when Marmeladov dies, forcing her and her kids into a life of beggary. When she is about to die, the reader finally realizes her own theory of redemption.
Serious thought should be considered to why one of the painters of the building, Mikolka, confessed to the crime when he didn t commit it. Alfred L. Bem finds traits in him like that made him want to wash out his own unconcscious guilt through a confession of another s (Bem, 7). Porfiry describes him as being innocent and compleately impressionable (433). He aslo goes on to say Mikolka was caught up to religion under the influence of an old religious secretatian, which would lead to some moral sinfulness to start this religious revival (Bem, 8). Dostoyevsky is trying to represent his theory of unproven guilt and redemption through this man.
Mysterious in so many ways, Svidrigailov, with the exception of Raskolnikov, is arguably the hardest person in the book to analyze. His actions do not complement his rationalization. He is a betrayer. The text says he finds betrayal amusing . Rober Payne states that he is so self assured, so wildly convinced of his own superiority over everyone that even when Dounia points the revolver at him, he laughs (Payne, 207) He also goes on to say he belongs to the cold part of the world where there is no difference between good and evil (Payne, 208) Although it is hard to truly understand Svidrigailov, due to Dostoyevsky s subtle hints at his thinking process, his motives are what to look for when studying the path to his fatal redemption. Svidrigailov seems to fit the thesis of feeling sympathy for the weak, which would mean he is the one who receives redemption to the fullest. He helps out Sonia when Katherine dies by giving her money and assuring her that the children will be put in well run orphanages. Dostoyevsky gives the impression of redemption through charity with the actions Svidrigailov. But the motive that hinders Svidrigailov through all this charity is lust. As close as he is to proving the hypothesis right, Svidrigailov s charity is all for the love of Dounia.
Reaching the final stages of the epilogue, Sonya is the key to Raskolnikov s final defeat of irrational motives and suffering and into the light of redemption. Ernest J. Simmons believes Sonya s mouth contains Dostoyevsky s own doctrine of owning one s happiness through suffering and charity (Simmons, 32). Unlike her mother, Sonya receives redemption far before the end of the novel. Raskolnikov asks in the epilogue, Can her belifs be mine too? (522). She can see the suffering of Raskolnikov and her gift of compassion towards him helps her out of suffering and, inversely, shares the heavy burden of Raskolnikov. With her, he also makes piece with God as, silently, she had brough it to him (522).
Repentance through the eyes of Dostoyevsky s novel, Crime and Punishment, is something gained through suffering. But to assume Dostoyevsky intended his readers to believe personal suffering is the only medium to redemption is incorrect. While redemption through suffering is a huge them in the novel it is not the complete idea. The punishment in Crime and Punishment is the ongoing battle of Raskolnikov s reluctance to see the suffering of others around him. From witnessing the misery of others, the characters of Dostoyevsky s novel develop a need to reach out and help. As evil as they may seem, each character seems to have a place in their heart to sympathize suffering and lend a helping hand. The motive for this intention varies from each character but the reaction to someone s agony is a recurring theme among every character. Thus, Dostoyevsky theorizes that in search of redemption from one s personal sufferings, humans seek the sufferings of others so that they may feel sympathy towards them and help others in need, which validates their chance at redemption.