Crime and Punishment is one of the most well-known pieces of literature written by Fyodor Dostoevsky. It was written during a time of turmoil, when Dostoevsky’s wife and brother died and he was burdened with debts, which was made worse by his excessive drinking and gambling. As a result, Crime and Punishment reflects much of the author’s inner psyche, showing much of what the author thought of the world around him. In the book, Raskolnikov’s situation is not unlike Dostoevsky’s. They were both in debt and due to this they had a lot of experience with pawnbrokers. Raskolnikov did not want to rely on his family just like Dostoevsky did not have family to rely on because they had just died. However, the part of the book that reflected Dostoevsky the most was the character development of Raskolnikov, who exemplified Dostoevsky’s Slavophilic point of view, which is the belief that Russia should develop based on values based on Russia’s early history. Slavophilism is characterized by the rejection of Western European institutions such as the Roman Catholic Church and this shows itself at many points in the novel.
Raskolnikov first starts off the book with a strong belief in Nietzsche’s Übermensch theory, which was a Western ideology that was emerging at the time that Dostoevsky was working on the book. Right when the book starts, he has not paid his rent for a while, and he does not want to see the landlady “not because he [is] cowardly and abject” but because he does not want to listen to her “trivial, irrelevant gossip” and her “pestering demands for payment, threats and complaints” (3). From this, it can be seen that at this point in time, Raskolnikov believes that he is above...
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...itarianism and the Übermensch theory, and the acceptance of Christian Existentialism, which is devoting your life to Christian principles illustrates Dostoevsky’s Slavophilic tendencies. Utilitarianism and the Übermensch theory are both used to justify a crime committed by Raskolnikov, which eventually makes him break down, suggesting that Russia will also break down if it continues to try and abide by these Western ideologies, while Christian Existentialism is like a saving light to Raskolnikov and gives him a purpose in life. As a result, it can be understood that Crime and Punishment is very much a reflection of Dostoevsky’s Slavophilic beliefs and it is suggested throughout the entire book through the character development of Raskolnikov.
Dostoevsky, Fyodor M. Crime and Punishment. Trans. Constance Garnett. New York: Barnes and Noble, 2007. Print.
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