Pride and Guilt in Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment, and Devils

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In "On Dreams," Freud asserted that feelings of guilt, if repressed from consciousness, inevitably surface in unconscious symptoms, such as nightmares or madness. Although a person may repress his conscience, the guilt is merely displaced to another part of the mind, and eventually, this repressed matter must return. In the works of Dostoevsky, a character's guilt often manifests itself in dreams by presenting the character's purely devilish self or his worst fears. Not only does the character himself assume in dreams a totally fiendish nature, but the beings he encounters do also. Whether the devil appears literally, as in Ivan Karamazov's case, or in the likeness of the character's victim, as in the cases of Raskolnikov and Stavrogin, the mere fact of the devil's emergence reveals that the character has failed to elude guilt, a human universal, despite what he thinks or says consciously. In that the character himself is responsible for his nightmare, in that he is incapable of escaping the guilt that plagues him, the character constitutes his own devil. Because he is human, he suffers guilt, and hence, cannot get away with his crime. He is not as good at being bad as he believes. What do these dreams mean, in light of the fact that they are the literary creations of an author? How does guilt effectively temper pride? We shall attempt to answer these questions in examining the crimes, the dreams, and the devils of Raskolnikov, Stavrogin, and Ivan Karamazov. It is important when discussing a dream in a novel to distinguish between the literary and psychological implications of the dream. The dream is obviously the functional product of the author's imagination, and hence, must serve a definite purpose in the work. If exami... ... middle of paper ... ...ious. Guilt is a universal throughout humankind, and merely completes the psychological equation originating with excessive pride: if one dares to assume that he can transcend his humanity and enter the divine sphere, and commits a crime accordingly, guilt, emerging unconsciously in dreams, will eventually remind him of his human roots. Works Cited Anderson, Roger B. Dostoevsky: Myths of Duality. Gainesvilled, University of Florida Press, 1986. Dostoevsky, Fyodor. The Brothers Karamazov. Trans. Constance Garnett. Ed. Ralph E. Matlaw. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1976. ---. Crime and Punishment. Trans. Jessie Coulson. Ed. George Gibian. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1989. ---. Devils. Trans. and Ed. Michael R. Katz. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. New York: Scholastic Book Services, 1970.

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