Crime and Punishment
A Critical Analysis
Beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and devil are fighting there, and the battlefield is the heart of man.
- Fyodor Dostoevsky
Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment is a world-renowned 19th century mystery/murder novel that has captivated readers for generations. With the identity of the murderer revealed from the very beginning, but his intentions far from being clear, the novel keeps the reader at the edge of their imagination. Every chapter is full of uncertainties, but no other element of the novel causes greater irritation and annoyed curiosity than what drove Raskolnikov to commit the murders in the first place. ...view middle of the document...
He believes that some extraordinary humans, like himself, have the right to go against the ordinary social laws in order to keep the world evolving. Raskolnikov believes that without the extraordinary individuals the whole human race would be stuck. However, without the ordinary men then the ideas and findings of the extraordinary would be nonexistent. He is so attached and obsessed with this theory that it consumes him whole, and he begets the pride of being above the rest of society. With this philosophy, Raskolnikov sees other people as simply tools that he can use to achieve his means. However, after committing the murders his isolation instead of diminishing in his mind only grows stronger and alienates him even more. This strong isolation is the result of the guilt and nightmares that haunt him, and his attempts to find redemption without telling the truth. Throughout the novel, Raskolnikov pushes away the people that try to help him. In the very end however he finds himself unable to take the isolation anymore, it becomes so intolerable that he opens up to Sonya, and slowly makes him so weak that people easily can suspect him of the murders. Nevertheless, it is Sonya and his surfacing love for her that drives him to accept the daunting sentence, which is the only way out to relieve him of the overwhelming guilt and isolation. Her love allows Raskolnikov to understand that his philosophy was wrong all along, and makes him an ordinary human in his mind.
The psychology of Crime and Punishment is one of the most evident and important themes that can relate to anyone no matter the time difference. The crime, murder of the greedy moneylender, takes place in the very beginning of the novel, whereas the punishment, the imprisonment in Siberia, happens in the very end, to be exact the Epilogue of the novel. This organization of the events by Dostoevsky has a clear message to the audience, and that is the fact that real focus lies no in these two points but on the very events that lye in between them, which is at its core the deep examination of the haunting guilt and the psychological effects on the mind of Raskolnikov. The main focus lies not in the repercussion of the murder at the end of the novel, but at how Raskolnikov deals with the guilt throughout the story. The very fact that Dostoevsky does not focus much on the actually imprisonment of Raskolnikov shows that the real punishment is much less compared to the stress and tormenting anxiety of trying to justify the actions and thus avoiding the punishment. The theme is explained in the ideal human psyche, how the mind functions, Raskolnikov has two choices either to confess or go mad from the anxiety and guilt.
Two themes of Crime and Punishment are intertwined, the theme of alienation from society and that of the idea of being ‘superman’. As mentioned earlier, Raskolnikov sees himself as a ‘superman’, extraordinary, different, and thus above the rest of humanity which enables him not...