Crime And Punishment - Style

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Chose a character who might-- on the basis of the character’s actions alone-- be considered evil or immoral. Explain both how and why the presentation of the character makes us react more sympathetically than we otherwise might.

In Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, the character of Raskolnikov is one who may be considered evil or immoral for his actions, however his portrayal by the author is one that instills sympathy in the reader for the character due to his motives and personal, internal consequences he suffers for his crime of murder. There is considerable evidence supporting the view that Raskolnikov wants his theory surrounding the murder to be proven wrong, to get caught, and to be punished. This tells the reader that deep down, Raskolnikov knows in his heart what is wrong and right, and that he wants to be brought back down off his pedestal and enter back in to normal human society. Raskolnikov’s theory of the "superman" who is above all societal constraints and able to stamp out the weak and detrimental people in society for the common good, is one that is obviously skewed. This prompts Raskolnikov to doubt his reasoning for and consequent execution of the crime. He knows that his theory is wrong, but he has been created by the society in which he lives, which allows him to conjure up wild fantasies and delusions of grandeur. The sympathy Dostoyevsky enforces upon the reader for Raskolnikov is held by the overwhelming signs pointing towards the notion that he knows that he is wrong in his doings.

	The first indication of Raskolnikov’s need for punishment for his crime appears in his preparation for the crime itself. It is by no means meticulous. To be sure no one will suspect him, he rehearses the crime, counts the steps to Alyona’s house, and even devises a noose to carry his axe. Yet as incredible as it may seem, he makes only the most elementary plans for securing the axe and returning it unseen. Everything rests upon Natasya’s absence from the kitchen at the precise moment he needs it. Obviously, Raskolnikov is attempting to set himself for failure in this crime so that he may be caught and brought back down and in to society again. The reader may also feel sympathy because Raskolnikov is looking for a way out of his destitute condition. And while his methods are not those of a normal person, the intention prevail...

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...p;quot;louse" can affect him so severely, there must be more to life and the human condition than a neatly thought-out theory. He does not know what it is, but intuitively feels that by suffering punishment he may discover it. All his inner conflict surrounding the crime and its consequences, as well as the way he treats himself in order to return to society, instill sympathy in the reader for him. The society that created Raskolnikov and his mental condition ironically is the same one that he longs to once again be a part of, and one able to forgive and sympathize with a creature born out of its own flaws. Dostoyevsky instills sympathy for his character through blame on society. He does not hope to condone his character’s actions, only to shift responsibility for Raskolnikov’s mental state on the society that for so long put him down and allowed theories and ideas of getting out of destitution to run rampant in his mind. The irony comes when that same society accepts and understands his cause for wanting to again be normal and function as an effective person.

Works Cited

Dostoyevsky, Fydor. Crime and Punishment. Wordsworth Editions Limited. Ware, Hertfordshire. 1993.
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