Downfall and Salvation in Crime and Punishment


Length: 652 words (1.9 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Excellent
Open Document
Need writing help? Check your paper »

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Text Preview

More ↓

In the novel Crime and Punishment, the so-called "extraordinary man" theory plays an important role. Raskolnikov, downtrodden, and psychologically battered, believes himself to be exempt from the laws of ordinary men. It is this creedo that makes him believe he has the right to murder Alyona Ivanovna.

In the nineteenth century, the extraordinary man theory was widely popular. There were two main schools of thought on the subject, the proponents of which were the philosophers Georg Hegel and Freiderich Neitzsche. Both philosophers believed that there were a certain, select, handful of extraordinary people in the world. Both believed that these extraordinary people were above the laws of ordinary men and did not have to submit to their moral code. However, these philosophers disagreed on the motivation of the extraordinary man. Hegel believed that the "superman" could ignore the laws as long as his actions benefited the race of man as a whole. On the other hand, Neitzsche believed that the superman broke the laws in order to benefit himself alone.

In a way, Raskolnikov submits to both theories of the extraordinary man. What is important to understand is why Raskolnikov believes himself to be extraordinary. Firstly, Raskolnikov's perilous financial state and near destitution cause him to be pushed to the edge of sanity. Secondly, the natural arrogance that stems from possessing a great intellect (which Raskolnikov does) causes Raskolnikov to believe that he is above everyone else. In respect to his crime, one can look at it from both the Hegelian and Neitzschean point of view.

For the first five sections of Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov takes a Hegelian view of his crime. He convinces himself that he killed Alyona Ivanovna because she was a bloodsucking leach on the body of the poor. Raskolnikov believes he is doing mankind a service by removing the dishonest and unfair pawnbroker. It is not until part six that Raskolnikov admits to himself that his ultimate motive was Neitzschean. He finally admits to Sonia that he killed Alyona just to see if he could do it. He wanted to know whether he was a "Napoleon," able to commit an evil act and walk away with no remorse. In short, Raskolnikov killed Alyona not because she was dishonest and he needed money, he killed her simply to benefit his ego.

In some ways, the extraordinary man theory also applies to Svidrigailov and Luzhin.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Downfall and Salvation in Crime and Punishment." 123HelpMe.com. 10 Dec 2017
    <http://www.123HelpMe.com/view.asp?id=4000>.
Title Length Color Rating  
Salvation Through Human Suffering in Crime and Punishment Essay - Salvation Through Human Suffering in Crime and Punishment “All men must suffer, and salvation can not be obtained unless this suffering is present” (Boland, p.4). All of the characters in the novel experience some sort of internal or external suffering. The main character, Raskolnikov, must grow and realize this in order to overcome his conflicts and reach the salvation of peace within. Dostoevsky’s concentration and focus is on why suffering must exist and how this suffering can be conquered. This is found to be true because in the six sections of the novel, only one is focused on the crime, and the remaining five are concentrated on Raskolnikov’s journey to overcome his suffering....   [tags: Crime and Punishment Essays] 1194 words
(3.4 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Christianity in Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky Essay - Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote, It must have been a difficult task for Dostoevsky to come to this conclusion. He could be compared to that of the Prodigal son, who returned to God only after all other forms of belief were ventured. Being raised in a Russian Orthodox household, as a youth Dostoyevsky rebelled against religion and later began to believe in the anarchist and atheistic philosophy that was common among radical students and middle-class people that were against the status quo in 19th century Russia....   [tags: Crime and Punishment Essay] 1514 words
(4.3 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Crime and Punishment: Avoiding Punishment is Futile Essay - Avoiding punishment is futile. Whether in the form of proper trials or through guilt, every person will come face to face with the consequences of their actions. Avoiding suffering only causes it to intensify. This is mainly demonstrated through Svidrigailov and Raskolnikov in the end of Crime and Punishment. Both men had been eluding their various torments and they realize the vanity of their avoidance after receiving crushing mental blows. Raskolnikov and Svidrigailov realize that the time has come to recognize suffering and responsibility for previous actions....   [tags: Crime and Punishment Essays] 1259 words
(3.6 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky Essay - Slow slicing, or death by a thousand cuts, was a capital punishment in 900 A.D. China for those who committed brutal crimes, such as murder. In present day America, the use of lethal injection is one of many forms of capital punishment used to end the lives of an offender. It appears that people, throughout the centuries, have looked for a suitable way to punish a criminal. These punishments have a sole purpose, and that is to take the life of an offender. By taking the life of a wrong doer does not erase the crime nor does it help reform the criminal....   [tags: Crime and Punishment Essays] 765 words
(2.2 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Essay on A Nihilistic Analysis of Crime and Punishment - A Nihilistic Analysis of Crime and Punishment This paper provides an exhaustive analysis, from a Nihilistic perspective, of the novel, Crime and Punishment. The paper is divided into many sections, each with a self-explanatory title in capital letters, such as the section that immediately follows this sentence. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF MARMELADOV'S RECOLLECTION SCENE Katerina Ivanovna must deal with a man who drinks his life away while his family starves. Marmeladov recounts their suffering by first describing his loss of a job....   [tags: Dostoevsky Crime and Punishment]
:: 1 Works Cited
4904 words
(14 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Essay about Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment - God Answers the Questions Presented by Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment             In Dostoevsky's novels pain and some heavy burden of the inevitability of human suffering and helplessness form Russia. And he depicts it not with white gloves on, nor through the blisters of the peasant, but through people who are close to him and his realities: city people who either have faith, or secular humanists who are so remote from reality that even when they love humanity they despise humans because of their own inability to achieve or to create paradise on earth....   [tags: The Brothers Karamazov Crime and Punishment]
:: 8 Works Cited
3951 words
(11.3 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Crime and Punishment and Raskolnikov's article, On Crime Essays - Crime and Punishment and Raskolnikov's article, "On Crime" Raskolnikov's article, "On Crime," is vital to the understanding of his beliefs. This article also has a profound effect on Crime and Punishment as a whole, the subject matter being one of the main themes of the novel. The idea of the "extraordinary man" is referred to literally throughout the book, but also notable is the subconscious effect the idea has on Raskolnikov. Sometimes Raskolnikov is not even aware of this influence. It is important to note originality, or the ability to "utter a new word," as a defining characteristic of the extraordinary man....   [tags: Crime Punishment Essays] 3487 words
(10 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
The Protagonist and Antagonist of Crime and Punishment Essay - The Protagonist and Antagonist of Crime and Punishment         Crime and Punishment is considered by many to be the first of Fyodor Dostoevsky's great books.  Crime and Punishment is a psychological account of a crime.  The crime is double murder.  A book about such a broad subject can be made powerful and appealing to our intellectual interests if there is a link between the reader, the action, and the characters. Doestoevsky makes all these links at the right places.  The action takes place between the protagonists and the antagonists.  The protagonists include Dounia, the Marmeladovs, Sonia, Razumhin, Porfiry Petrovich, and Nastaya.  The antagonists of the story are...   [tags: Crime Punishment Essays] 1768 words
(5.1 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay about Crime and Punishment in Great Expectations - Crime and Punishment in Great Expectations       Throughout Great Expectations, Charles Dickens's attitudes toward crime and punishment differ greatly from his real-life views. Dickens, according to Phillip Collins in Dickens and Crime, "had strong and conflicting feelings about criminals" (1), which explains why he was known to refer to criminals as both "irreclaimable wretches" and "creatures of neglect" (33). The author's contradictions toward crime stem from the fact that Dickens was constantly torn between his childhood memories of prison and poverty and the legal training he gained as an adult....   [tags: Crime Punishment Essays]
:: 4 Works Cited
2220 words
(6.3 pages)
Term Papers [preview]
Essay about Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime And Punishment - What is the ideal purpose of punishing criminals, how do we know when punishment has been adequately served, what would be an appropriate, morally justifiable punishment for Raskolnikov, and why. Elbert Hubbard said, "We are punished by our sins, not for them." Prince Machiavelli created the Machiavellian code where he stated the "Eye for an eye" principle. What is the purpose of punishment. Why does human kind feel it necessary to punish wrong-doers. Hubbard believed that punishment is not necessary in order to reform criminals, yet Machiavelli believed in bringing to justice all who broke the law....   [tags: Crime and Punishment Essays] 869 words
(2.5 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]

Related Searches




As one can clearly see, Svidrigailov is an example of Neitzsche's superman. Far from caring about anyone else, Svidrigailov does things because they make him feel good. Arkady is an example of a man devoid of reason and logic and given completely over to passion. Responsible for the deaths of both Martha Petrovna and a servant, Svidrigailov commits any act that improves his situation, legal or illegal. He is sick of the servant, so he causes him to commit suicide, he wants to be free of Martha so he can pursue Dunia, so he poisons her. These are the acts of a man who is entirely self-serving.

Also, there is Peter Petrovich Luzhin. Like Raskolnikov, Luzhin is an example of both theories of the extraordinary man. Going against the norm, Luzhin attempts to marry Dunia, a poor destitute girl who greatly contrasts Luzhin's wealth. He aims to be her benefactor and rescue her from poverty, a Hegelian idea. However, we also see that Luzhin ultimately wants to use his charity as a harness over Dunia. Luzhin ultimately wants to serve himself by causing Dunia to devote herself completely and utterly to him. Quite obviously, the extraordinary man theory is a central theme in Crime and Punishment. Dostoevsky spotlights the superman's failure due to his over-inflated ego and his ultimate redemption when he finds love and religion. Crime and Punishment is both a touching tale of downfall and salvation and a masterful disproof of Neitzche's doctrine.

 


Return to 123HelpMe.com