Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky

765 Words4 Pages
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. The purpose of a punishment is to reform one’s moral standards. The protagonist of Crime and Punishment, Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, is a student turned killer. As Crime and Punishment gradually progresses the reader can see how the protagonist's morally improves as he is mentally tortured by his guilt. One often fails to realize that physical abuse is not the only way to punish someone; however, Dostoevsky knew another alternative that would help reform one’s moral standards. Fyodor Dostoevsky's novel Crime and Punishment demonstrates how an effective form of punishment does not have to be physically torturing, but can be mentally torturing an offender.

Dostoevsky’s portrayal of crime and punishment is unexpected. One would expect the criminal to be jailed for his acts as soon as he is discovered; however, such is not the case for Crime and Punishment. The crime occurs during the beginning of the novel while the punishment follows hundreds of pages later, in the Epilogue. One can immediately hypothesis that Dostoevsky concerns himself not with the solution, but with the process. The real focus of the novel is the state of mind of Raskolnikov, not the criminal procedure. The...

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...o put an end to his mental torture, Raskolnikov chooses to confess and attempt to begin life on a blank slate.

The novels ends with Raskolnikov in Siberia, with seven years of lard labor before him, but spiritually renewed. If he wished, he could have chosen a different path; instead, he confessed. The path was a one way ticket to hell or a new life achieved by confession. One does not need to be whipped or beaten in order to learn from his mistake. It is possible to learn a lesson from the guilt ridden human pysche. Raskolnikov did not better his moral standards by spending seven years in Siberia, he improved himself through his guilty mind. If physically torturing a child for his misdeeds will not teach him a lesson, who is to say a criminal will learn a lesson? However, a guilty mind is always conscious. A conscious mind can always distinguish right from wrong.
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