Novel Term Paper on Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky The psychological novel by Dostoyevsky opens by describing an impoverished Raskolnokov’s predicament. He sets out to pawn his items to Alyona Ivanovna whom he plots to murder. The next day he receives a letter from his mother, telling him of their situation and of his sister’s engagement. Raskolnikov sees this as a sacrifice for him and he also remembers the daughter of the man he met in a tavern and it dawns on him how passive he was realizing that he has no work and merely lives in a decent home.
Soon afterwards, he falls asleep and dreams of watching a peasant beat an overburdened horse to death. When he awakes from his slumber, he then makes his first plot to murder Alyona Ivanovna. After over hearing that the pawnbroker’s sister will be away, he takes that as his cue to take his plans into actions. However, the murder itself did not turn out the way he planned it for Lizaveta, the sister of the pawnbroker unexpectedly arrives.
He ended up killing them both and was almost caught as two customers knock at the door; however, he still managed to escape, undetected. Torn between confessing his crime and resisting arrest, he then pays two visits to Sonya. During the first visit, he seeks the sympathy of the prostitute. The, he wonders how could she go on living despite her humiliating profession. Then he came to an answer that it might be religion. Thus, he asks her to read the Gospel and the story of Lazarus, the man who was restored from death to life.
In his second visit, he professes his crime to Sonya though not through words. In a scene that uncannily recalls the original murder of the pawnbroker and Lizaveta, Raskolnikov looks into Sonya’s eyes, and she reacts with the same terror he had seen on Lizaveta’s face. In an instant, she perceives his guilt. Instead of turning away from him and displaying disgust and horror, she embraces him and shows how much she understands her sufferings. Her selfless acceptance of his suffering gives Raskolnikov new strength.
He tells her that he committed the murder to find out whether he was someone special, someone with the right to step over conventional codes of behavior. He now asks her what to do. She tells him to go to the crossroads, kiss the earth, and make a public confession. God will then send him new life. Yet Raskolnikov is not ready to surrender, and he leaves her apartment in a renewed state of indecision. Unknown to Raskolnikov and Sonya, Svidrigailov was eavesdropping. He then blackmails them that if Sonya wouldn’t love him, he’d spill the beans about the crime of Raskolnikov.
Sonya tries to kill him but she fails and then Svidrigailov, realizing that he will never be loved by Sonya, he lets her go and spends the night in a cheap hotel where he dreams of his own internal corruption. When the morning comes, he shoots himself in front of a shocked watchman. The novel’s epilogue focuses on Raskolnikov’s experiences as a convict in Siberia. After recuperating from his illness, Raskolnikov walks to a riverbank and gazes at the landscape. Sonya appears at his side. Suddenly, Raskolnikov is seized with an entirely new sensation of love and compassion.
Both he and Sonya realize that something profound has occurred within his soul. Love has raised him from the dead, and he will become a new man. Dostoyevsky concludes his novel by stating that the story of Raskolnikov’s regeneration might be the subject of a new tale, but that the present one has ended. This literature masterpiece by Fyodor Dostoyevsky encompasses the dualities present in human behavior. The title of the novel speaks for this claim, which pertains to Raskolnikov himself as the ‘criminal’ and the ‘punisher’.
In this two main binary opposites pertained to Raskolnikov, there are also underlying pairs that still clings to his character. He is pertained to as a criminal, obviously for plotting and committing murder and taking the lives of two innocent people which is against the law. This action of Raskolnikov supports his idea that was written by himself. That article that he wrote expounds the idea that a few individuals may commit a crime if they think it is necessary to attain special goals.
Raskolnikov further explains this by starting by the idea that the world is divided into two – the masses and the elite. “The first group, that is the material, are, generally speaking, by nature staid and conservative, they live in obedience and like it. In my opinion they ought to obey because that is their destiny, and there is nothing at all degrading to them in it. The second group are all law-breakers and transgressors, or are inclined that way, in the measure of their capacities.
The aims of these people are, of course, relative and very diverse; for the most part they require, in widely different contexts, the destruction of what exists in the name of better things. But if it is necessary for one of them, for the fulfillment of his ideas, to march over corpses, or wade through blood, then in my opinion he may in all conscience authorize himself to wade through blood—in proportion, however, to his idea and the degree of its importance—mark that.
It is in that sense only that I speak in my article of their right to commit crime. ” He definitely thinks that Alyona Ivanova should be killed for she was being rather cold, stingy and inconsiderate to those who mostly need help. This can be seen when Raskolnikov himself was so immersed in poverty and in so much need of money to support himself and seeks Ivanovna to pawn his items. Arriving there, it is revealed to the readers that it was not the first time that he came to the woman fro the same reason.
Inconsiderate, cold and stingy she was, she refused to pawn the item of the Raskolnikov for the price that needs. This now shows the picture of the two groups of people stated by him. Ivanovna was one of those elites and he, being part of the masses. Seeing this act of Ivanovna as something cruel and selfish, he then thinks it necessary to take her life. In taking the life of Ivanovna, that’s when he becomes a criminal and at the same time a punisher. He is a criminal in a sense that he did something against the law made by the society.
But at the same time, it makes him a punisher because of the reason behind hi deed, which is to take the life of someone which he thinks is important to do so since she was rather being selfish and uncaring to the people who needs what she can give considerately and generously. Another binary opposite underlying is him being selfish and selfless. He is able to display compassion and selflessness when he went to a house of his friend, saw their rather impoverished predicament that they are in, which is not very different from his and felt compassion and sympathy for them.
Themes that are present in the novel are that of guilt and innocence and atonement and forgiveness which are closely related to each other. Dostoyevsky renders to his readers the idea that punishment is more than just being jailed and sentenced to prison. Punishment inherently comes from the awareness of one’s guilt. Whereas innocence is embodied by the character of Sonya; though she is a prostitute, there is no indication of any sexual and lustful inclination. She is doing her job out of necessity and not out of lust. For the theme of orgiveness and atonement, Raskolnikov paid for his crime done in two ways: he was sentenced to prison and then he was tortured by his guilt and conscience which is the real atonement for Dostoyevsky. Sonya again represents the theme of forgiveness as depicted in the novel that she still accepted and understood the sufferings of Raskolnikov and she did not turn away from him. She asked him to do the right thing – to confess his sins to God and then he’ll be forgiven. Symbols in the novel include the crucifix that was given to him by Sonia. The crucifix symbolizes his redemption.
It also means hope for him in the prison. The story of Lazarus that was also told to him by Sonya is figuratively parallel to the story of Raskolnikov, who is considered dead when he actually committed a crime in the form of alienation. However, Raskolnikov, like Lazarus, was brought back to life when he confessed his crime and took responsibility for it. Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky displays distinct characteristics of Russian Literature. It specifically shows that Russian literature is pessimistic, realistic and socially significant.
Pessimism is displayed through the gritty and gray description of St. Petersburg and of the impoverished state of the characters. Didactic extremism is also seen when Raskolnikov has to learn all his life’s lessons by making a terrible crime and which ends him up in prison. He also experienced a lot of torture from his guilty conscience to be able to admit his crime, which in the end was able to give him emotional liberty through the love he felt for Sonya. With these statements and claims, Crime and Punishment definitely shows Russian temperament and views about punishment, forgiveness and redemption.