During the discussion several ideas were brought up surrounding key ideas in Crime and Punishment, mainly focusing on the concepts of dreams and setting. Before the discussion I believed that Raskolnikov differed from society somehow, and often was portrayed as crazy within his dreams/hallucinations. I also thought that St. Petersburg was a dirty and disgraceful town located somewhere within Russia. Afterwards I learned that really, Dostoevsky was using dreams to show Raskolnikov’s differing perspective of the world, and that St. Petersburg is really a beautiful city (where the wealthy live) located in the west of Russia.
Raskolnikov committed murder because he thought that the money he could gain through it would allow him to redirect the wealth to several other poverty stricken people, which is an allusion to socialism. However, his dreams show that he really committed the murder because he had a differing sense of reality, and believed himself to be extraordinary. Dostoevsky uses this to show that people who differ from social norms are often punished, and characterized as being inhumane. He tries to show this in Raskolnikov’s dreams by showing how Raskolnikov views the world. He is characterized as disobeying law and resisting social norms, and instead he becomes characterized as a more progressive figure because he cares about the well-being of women, whereas the common society does not.
Ideas brought up concerning setting also helped me understand some of the author’s craft within the novel. The fact that St. Petersburg is a western city that is trying to mimic parts of Europe (particularly France) shows how it is cut off from the rest of Russia, and filled with the wealthy. This made the book make mo...
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...s a whole they help Dostoevsky point out problems within societal norms (such as the treatment of women) and allow him to further develop the characterization of Raskolnikov and Svidrigailov. The technique implemented within the dreams even enable Dostoevsky to show how differing realities collide because each individual character has a different interpretation of what is right and wrong within the society. Ultimately he proves that the characters’ individualistic principles collide with that of societies and as a result the characters are punished for differing. This final idea gives the reader the reader the impression that alternative characterizations and realities must be crushed and eliminated so the system does not become corrupted.
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor. Crime and Punishment. 1866. Trans. Constance Garmett. New York: Bantam- Random, 2003. Print.
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