Crime and Punishment

841 Words4 Pages
The Websters Dictionary defines degradation as a fall from higher to lower rank or degree(Websters, 205). Fyodor Dostoyevsky illustrates degradation of morals for several characters in Crime and Punishment. He links the quality of money or lack thereof to the their moral degradation to design complex characters. Dostoyevsky draws a picture of society that is similar to the society depicted in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. The poor become greedy and the rich become greedier. And, good moral decision making can be greatly overpowered by the need or want of more money. The degradation of society and lack of money cause Raskolnikov to kill the greedy pawnbroker, Alyona Ivanovna and her sister Lizaveta. Raskolnikov believes that killing them for their money will be a great conquest for himself and society. After fighting with himself about whether or not he should commit the crime, he overhears someone talking about the same plan. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of lives could be put on the right path, dozens of families rescued from poverty, from ruin, from collapse, from decay, from venereal wards of the hospitals-- all this with her money! Kill her, take her money, dedicate it to serving mankind, to the general welfare. Well --what do you think -- isn’t this petty little crime effaced by thousands of good deeds? (63, part 1) Raskolnikov decides he must go against his good judgment and commit murder for the good of society and himself. Dostoyevsky also takes the character of Raskolnikov to the opposite extreme. After his mother sends him money, he uses it to help out the Marmeladov family in an act of pure charity. He comes across Marmeladov injured by a carriage and without hesitation offers to help. “I know him!” and he pushed all the way forward. “It’s the clerk, the retired titular councilor, Marmeladov! He lives near here, in Kozel’s house....Somebody get a doctor! I’ll pay. Here!” he fished money out of his pocket and showed it to the policeman. (170, part 2) Dostoyevsky is showing how Raskolnikov’s decision making is effected by money or lack thereof. Svidrigailov is a character who was poor and in jail. He was bought by Marfa Perovna and lived a good life off of her money. Unlike Raskolnikov, Svidrigailov’s moral degradation becomes worse with his increase of wealth. He cheats on his wife, causing her to eventually kill herself, and gets a fifteen year old pregnant. He then admits to Raskolnikov that he was in love with his sister, Dunya, but now just wants to sleep with her. “Secondly, I fancy you won’t refuse me a little help in a certain project of mine that

More about Crime and Punishment

Open Document