Hope as a Means of Discovering Personal Meaning in Crime and Punishment

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In every story, a character develops with the plot from an initial individual that leads to an ultimate, either improved or distorted, character. However in these stories there is one driving factor that pushes the transformation of the character: hope. Many authors utilize hope to justify the characters’ actions in their novels, because it gives them a motivation to continue pursuing the conclusion of the story. Similarly in Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky places a form of collective hope in Raskolnikov that revolves around searching for his meaning in life. In the novel it is inevitable to associate the actions of the characters to their differing hopes, therefore coming to the compromise that hope explains the process of a character's journey. As a consequence, many readers mistaken hope as a source of aggression, or murder in the case of Crime and Punishment, or even misunderstand isolation as an influence on his violent actions and sufferings; however, hope rather affects the end result in discovering personal meaning for Raskolnikov, because this hope explains his actions throughout the plot. The source of hope that Raskolnikov places reveals and influences his thoughts throughout the story. From the beginning of Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov places his hope in the Übermensch ideal, which convinces him to act in any means because he is superior to others, influencing him to “want to attempt a thing” as horrific as murder (2). Throughout his years of living in solitude in “his little room” (420) that is degraded and tattered, Raskolnikov develops a utilitarian character, in which he believes the sacrifice of “one death” (68) is justified for “a hundred lives in exchange” (68). Many times, this character t... ... middle of paper ... ...d his reactions to the future events to follow. By placing his hope on Sonia and Christianity, he was able to endure the years of imprisonment in Siberia and return as a new man, not only to others, but also to himself. The novel interestingly implies us to see that the once Raskolnikov who saw himself as the over man who has the right to act in any means to justify his view on society, becomes humble in front of the eyes of Christianity. However when their actions and attitudes are changed, the underlying factors of hope must be taken notice of as well. The change in hope simultaneously in their change in character is not just a coincidence, but intentional in the eyes of Dostoevsky to help Raskolnikov discover his personal meaning. Works Cited Dostoevsky, Fyodor. Crime and Punishment. Trans. Constance Garnett. New York: Bantam Dell-Random House, 2003. Print.

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