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Essay on The Theme of Duality in Crime and Punishment

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The Theme of Duality in Crime and Punishment

 

In Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, the theme of duality is present throughout much of the novel.  There are dual conflicts: one external between a disillusioned individual and his world, and the other internal between an isolated soul and his conscience (Walsh).  It is the internal conflict in the main character, Raskolnikov, that is the focuses of much of the novel.  The dual personalities of Raskolnikov are constantly at battle with one another, causing the inner conflict he experiences and thus creating his own personal punishment.

The first of Raskolnikov's two sides is his intellectual side.  This side of him is cold, unfeeling, inhumane, and exhibiting extreme self-will and power.  This is the side of him that comes up with his theory.  The crime was a result of his theory that some people possess extraordinary abilities while others have no ability.  It's this intellectual side of him that caused him to conceive and execute his murder.  This half of his personality is part of the reason he lives in the run-down place he does and it's the reason he has let himself get so far away from his goals.  This side gets him into a lot of hard times throughout the novel.  His extreme apathy towards everything is this side of his personality.

There is also a completely opposite side of Raskolnikov.  This side is the compassionate, kind, humane, pitying, warm side of him.  It's a large part of his conscience and does charitable acts and fights against the evil in his society.  This is the side his mother wants to see and he trains himself to only let her only come in contact with this side of himself....


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...  Eventually the good side of his personality won him over and he realized he needed help.  Killing someone is a crime and would do him no good (Harris).  His mind was very much in sync with Raskolnikov, who thought he could better humanity through a justified crime.

The truth is, everyone has a complex personality.  No one has a one-sided character.  The difference between Raskolnikov and us is the way we choose to act on our instincts.  Raskolnikov clearly didn't know how to handle his intellectual nature and therefore he had to suffer punishment from his own self and the law.  Balanced people know how to deal with their emotions and their personalities in a healthy way.  Raskolnikov teaches us that whatever man does, must be done in terms of general humanity and for that reason man must learn to master his dual personality.


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