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Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky Essay

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Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment was written in a regimented Russian society at a time when individuals were judged not by their character, but by their class and accordance with social institutions. The characters and foils in the novel vary in their social status as well as in their morals. Several characters that society respects for their position are shown to have little virtue, while others that are shunned are illustrated to be virtuous human beings. Thus Dostoevsky suggests that individuals must look beyond a person’s social status to value them as a person, in doing condemning the institutions that society holds dear.
In the novel, characters are used to criticize the superficiality of the political institutions of the time. Luzhin and Razumihin, primarily, are foils to one another in both their incentives for marrying Dounia as well as the ideologies that they represent. Throughout the story, this is illustrated through the contrast of both their physical appearances and differing political beliefs. When Luzhin is introduced to Raskolnikov, his clothes are described as being “too new,” and he notably treats his hat “too respectfully” (Dostoevsky 147). As hats are associated with the head, the author’s use of this accessory symbolizes that Luzhin is proud and thinks excessively highly of himself. Furthermore, the repetition and diction of “too” suggest that he is trying too hard to appear noble. This is supported later in the description of Luzhin when his pink cravat is mentioned, as well as the fact that he holds his “lavender gloves … in hand for show” (147-148). Here, Luzhin’s flamboyance is illustrated in the imagery of the light, pastel colors that he adorns. The light colors are gaudy and contrast with the more r...


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...causes a very religious Russian society to return to their basic beliefs and turn away from the façade of religion that is practiced by individuals like Alyona for personal gain.
In Crime and Punishment, the complex characters allow the author to criticize political and religious institutions. Without advocating radical change, characters such as Luzhin and Alyona Ivanovna represent a major flaw of Russian society at the time – that people care more for themselves than others. Characters such as Razumihin and Sonia, who would be looked down upon for their poverty and profession, are shown to be kind human beings who put others before themselves. At its core, the novel suggests that goodness is not just found in wealth and reputation. Rather, a person of any class who is genuine in their actions is truly good.



Works Cited

Dostoevsky, Fyodor. Crime and Punishment.


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