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The Mind of a Criminal in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s "Crime and Punishment" and Mary Shelley’s "Frankenstein"

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The human mind is a complex labyrinth barely explored. What drives humans to make decisions, behave in certain manors, and react in certain ways are defined by many theories of psychology. What actually goes on in the mind of a criminal or a sociopath? Can crimes be justified? And where do society’s morals take effect? These questions are ones that might be posed when reading Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. A great mind can easily be corrupted by a narcissistic need for knowledge or the simple drive to prove a point. Both protagonists in these novels are faced against a mirror, fighting with their own minds, reaping consequences of past decisions and underdeveloped ideas these characters, although great men force themselves onto a road of redemption after failed experiments. Both works embody main characters that isolate themselves from society in a search for intellectual enlightenment but to their dismay, a reversal of fortune occurs.
Raskolnikov, in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, concocts a plan to murder the town’s pawnbroker to prove a very flawed theory without a distinct motive. Prior to the formulation of his theory, Raskolnikov alienates himself from the rest of society. He lives his life in dire poverty, cut off from the rest of the world, and left to his own thoughts, “The question whether the disease gives rise to the crime, or whether the crime, due to its own peculiar nature, is always accompanied by something like a disease, he did not yet feel able to decide” (Dostoevsky 71). The disease is poverty and alienation. Out of desperation, perhaps, he devised this plan to help alleviate him and his family’s financial difficulties. The pawnbroker was wealthy and he did rob h...


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... manners, Porfiry in Crime and Punishment, after analyzing Raskolnikov summarizes his theory by saying, “In his article all men are divided into ‘ordinary’ and ‘extraordinary.’ Ordinary men have to live in submission, have no right to transgress the law, because, don’t you see, they are ordinary. But extraordinary men have a right to commit any crime and to transgress the law in any way, just because they are extraordinary.” (Dostoevsky 247)? Raskolnikov felt as if he was extraordinary, someone more intelligent and important which gave him the right to commit his crime. Frankenstein felt something of the same. The two shared a narcissistic view of life.
Raskolnikov did not make it a point to keep in touch with his family. Although, he wanted to help them financially which obviously shows he cares for them, he neglects to really communicate with his mother and sister


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