Crime and Punishment


The main character in the novel "Crime and Punishment" by
Fyodor Dostoevsky has in reality two totally contradicting
personalities. One part of Raskolnikov is the 
intellectual. He is cold, unfeeling, inhumane and exhibits
tremendous self-will. It is this side that enables him to
commit the most terrible crime imaginable - taking another
human life. The other part of his personality is warm and
compassionate. This is the side of him that does charitable
acts and fights against evil in his society.
The confusion in Raskolnikov's soul is best seen when he
tries to help a girl in the street who has been raped and
left to the whims of anyone who finds her. Raskolnikov
tries to protect her from the evil of the street- gut then
stops himself when he is repulsed by the wickedness of his
society. " Why did I take it upon myself to interfere? Was
it for me to try to help? Let them eat one another alive -
what is it to me?" At one time Raskolnikov is both caring
and concerned and yet he is able to push aside the whole
affair by being totally indifferent. 

This is how Raskolnikov is able to commit his crime. His
intellectual side ignores his conscience and is able to
commit the crime in a rational and orderly way. It is his
dual character that serves as his punishment. One side of
him is able to commit the murders so the other must bear
the punishment. He is tortured by the cruelty in mankind
and yet he himself is able to repeat it. 

Raskolnikov justifies his crime by coming up with a
philosophy that the man with power is the man to rule over
all others. But this power is only given to those who dare
to take it. Raskolnikov wanted to see if he had the courage
to take that power. He also had to battle with his
rationalization of the murders. He claimed that since
Alyona, the first murder victim was such a parasite to
people, it was all right to kill her. He never mentions his
other victim, Lizaveta, because she was the sweet and
harmless one whose murder he cannot face.
The two other characters of the novel who represent these
two different sides are Sonya Marmeladov and Svidrigailov.
Sonya is the warm side of Raskolnikov. She is a prostitute
forced into that field because her father drinks away all
of the money in the family. She is meek and submissive. She
will give her father her last copper, even if he comes to
her totally drunk. Raskolnikov is at once attracted to and
repulsed by this personality. Svidrigailov is the cold and
detached personality that Raskolnikov both loathes and

The goal of the novel is to make Raskolnikov into one whole
character. Sonya helps bring Raskolnikov back into his
emotional, humane side. Through her suffering, she shows
him that it is important to have a love for all humanity
and that no person should ever be able to exist like a
parasite off another person. Porifery, the official
investigating the crime, acts as the intellectual who shows
Raskolnikov that all intellect must be used for the good of


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