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Essay on The Psychological Dilemma in Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment

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In Fyodor Dostoevsky’s drama, Crime and Punishment Rodion Romanovich Raskonlnikov exclaims, “I didn’t kill a human being, but a principle!” (Dostoevsky, 409). This occurs in part III, chapter VI of the novel when he’s battling with the confession of his murder he committed. In the beginning, Raskonlnikov, the protagonist of the novel, was a former student, struggling to get his life in order. He contemplates on whether he wants to assassinate his old land lady, Alyona Ivanovna, because he believes she was the cause for his debt. He finally slaughters her, and ends up slaughtering her sister, too, when she walked in on the murder. Afterwards, the crime he committed began to carp at his conscious psychologically. In a key passage of Crime and Punishment on page 409 , Fydodor Dostoevsky uses major themes, irony, language, symbols, and foreshadowing to emphasize the psychological effects that Raskonlnikov is struggling with before he confesses his murder.
There are many aspects in the passage on page 409 that dramatizes the psychological repercussion of Raskonlnikov. A major theme of the novel is the psychology of a criminal which is shown when Raskonlnikov attempts to convince himself that he killed a “principle” (409), and not a human being. It showes how he was trying to detach the guilt he was having. He said that he “couldn't pass by my mother starving” (409) then went on to say “my heart is at peace” (409). His heart was not at peace at all because “at moments he felt he was raving. He sank into a state of feverish excitement” (409). The statement about killing a principle instead of a human being also foreshadows his protest to his sister, Dounia, that the murder wasn’t amiss, he just failed to make something out of it. He “w...


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... useless one and proposed to take from her only as much as I needed for the first step, no more nor less (so the rest would have gone to a monastery, according to her will, ha-ha!). And what shows that I am utterly a louse," he added, grinding his teeth, "is that I am perhaps viler and more loathsome than the louse I killed, and I felt beforehand that I should tell myself so after killing her. Can anything be compared with the horror of that? The vulgarity! The abjectness! I understand the 'prophet' with his sabre, on his steed: Allah commands and 'trembling' creation must obey! The 'prophet' is right, he is right when he sets a battery across the street and blows up the innocent and the guilty without deigning to explain! It's for you to obey, trembling creation, and not to have desires, for that's not for you!... I shall never, never forgive the old woman!"”




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