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Crime And Punishment 8 Essay, Research Paper

Violence in literature often has a greater meaning than simply providing entertainment for the reader. In great literature, no scene of violence exists for its own sake; the act of violence contributes to a greater meaning of the complete work. Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov s actions in Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky, is an example of this.

Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, a desperate man, thinks very highly of himself and believes that his greatness gives him the right to break the law if he chooses. He is also a physical and emotional wreck; afraid to do the things he wants to do. Driven by his poverty and the shame of his mother’s and sister’s sacrifices for him, he plans a bold act: to kill a repulsive old pawnbroker. Her murder will accomplish two things: it will give him the money he needs, and it will prove he’s a superman. However, the plan backfires. He kills not only his intended victim, but also her mild, gentle sister, who returns home too early and surprises the murderer.

Made physically ill by the trauma of his deed, Raskolnikov is cared for by his old friend Razumikhin. However, his behavior becomes so bizarre that everyone who meets him wonders if he’s insane. Unfortunately for him, several police officials, including Porfiry Petrovich, the investigator in charge of the pawnbroker’s murder, hear about his self-incriminating actions. He faints in the police station when the crime is discussed; he returns to the scene of the crime and makes a spectacle of himself; and he is obsessed with the details of the murder. Even without any physical evidence against him, suspicion focuses on him.

Is Raskolnikov a criminal who should be severely punished for his crime, or a tortured young man who makes a terrible mistake in trying to understand himself? Because his crime is so brutal, many people think he’s a repulsive, self-centered monster who escapes the punishment he deserves. In contrast, because he’s tormented by his conscience and pity for the needy, others feel that the murders were a dreadful mistake that should not ruin his life. He wants to do evil, to commit murder, in order to test his theory that there is such a thing as a crime of principle. He believes he is brilliant and more gifted than other people are and has the right to commit crimes to accomplish his goals. All he needs is daring. The problem is, he’s not exactly sure what his goals are. He also wants to do good. He wants to save his sister from an unhappy marriage, and his mother from sacrificing for him. He wants to help the miserable Marmeladov family. Unfortunately, he seems unable to motivate himself to work, or to find a way to break out of the poverty that traps him.

Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov s violent actions started because he wanted money and wanted to be a superman. However, his actions led to a great deal of emotional and physical trouble for him. The other side of Raskolnikov’s personality, the side that feels sympathy for other people’s troubles, finds an outlet in the midst of his own struggle to escape detection. Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov s act of violence showed how desperate Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov s was, almost so much that the violence was necessary. This act of violence contributed to the complete meaning of the work by showing how Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov was torn between the desire to do evil and the desire to do good.


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