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Crime And Punishment 3 Essay Research Paper

Crime And Punishment 3 Essay, Research Paper

Crime and Punishment

In Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov’s dream about

the mare can be used as a vehicle to probe deep into his mentality to

discover how he really feels inside. The dream suggests that

Raskolnikov is a “split” man; after all, his name in Russian means

“split”. He has a cruel and thoughtless side as well as a caring,

compassionate side to his personality. Through the dream and the

symbols therein, a reader can cast Raskolnikov, as well as other

characters from Crime And Puni shment, into any of the various parts

in the dream. Each part that a character takes on leads to a different

conclusion about that character. Raskolnikov himself “fits” into the

positions of Mikolka, the child, and the mare.

If Mikolka, the drunken owner of the mare, were to represent

Raskolnikov, then the mare would most probably represent Alyona

Ivanovna. The senseless beating of the mare by Mikolka is similar to

the brutal attack on Alyona by Rodion. (It should be noted that both

Alyona and the mare were female.) These heartless attacks foreshadow

the crime that Raskolnikov is contemplating. Dostoevsky unveils

Raskolnikov’s cruel side during this dream, if it is to be interpreted

in this way.

On the same token, Raskolnikov’s compassionate side could be

represented by the little boy. The child, watching the beating,

realizes the absurdity of it. He even rushes to Mikolka, ready to

punish him for killing the mare. This illustrate s Rodion’s internal

struggle while contemplating the murder of Alyona. His humane side,

the child, tells him to live and let live. And his “extraordinary”

side, according to his definition, tells him that he should eliminate

Alyona altogether, for the good of man kind.

On the other side of the coin, Raskolnikov could be represented by

the mare itself. However, the burden which the mare must carry (the

cart, the people, etc.) could represent two separate things, depending

on if it is viewed in context befor e or after the actual murder.

Before the murder, the burden could represent the moral question that

is plaguing Rodion. Should he kill Alyona? Or should he leave her be?

Because of the importance of this question to Raskolnikov, it weighs

him dow n heavily at first. However, later on, he rashly decides to

kill Alyona.

If looked upon after the murder, the load on the mare in the dream

could represent the mental burden placed on Rodion. He had a burden of

guilt on him, and he could not justify the murder according to his own

theory. Therefore, he was torme nted by the otherwise insignificant

statements and actions of others in the novel. Even though Porfiry

Petrovitch did not have many of the people purposely harassing

Raskolnikov by mentioning various facets of the murder, it was as if

those who were “beating” the truth out of him were pawns of Porfiry

(or that of truth and the law in general), just as those beating the

life out of the mare were pawns of Mikolka (or that of cruelty). By

this reasoning, a parallel may also be drawn between the m are and


This is not to say that the dream does not have other

significances. It is possible that Mikolka represents Porfiry also.

Mikolka beat the mare until it died; Porfiry beat Raskolnikov mentally

until he confessed. There are also other inte rpretations that can

be made.

Despite other possible interpretations, Raskolnikov may be

represented by all three main characters in the dream: Mikolka, the

child, and the mare. Each representation brings to mind a new side of

Rodion Romanovitch that must be considered in order to understand him