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The Renewal of Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment

Powerful Essays
The Renewal of Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment

Raskolnikov, in Dostoevsky's novel Crime and Punishment, is a complex character difficult to understand. He believes himself superior to the rest of humanity, and therefore he believes he has the right to commit murder. After he kills Alena Ivanovna, an old pawnbroker, Raskolnikov discovers his supposed superiority has cut him off from other people. He exists in a self-created alienation from the world around him. Raskolnikov mearly drifts through life, unable to participate in it anymore. It is only through Sonya that Raskolnikov is able to gradually regain his connection to humanity; she helps him to understand that, although he cannot be superior to others, she loves him regardless. Although he finds it difficult to reject his theory that certain individuals may commit acts not permitted ordinary people, Raskolnikov does accept that he is not such an individual, that he is ordinary. Through this realization and Sonya's love for him he finds the strength to confess to his crime and accept responsibility for it; this allows him to slowly began to rejoin the world around him.

It is initially difficult to understand why Raskolnikov plots to murder the old pawnbroker. As a compassionate person, Raskolnikov finds the idea of violence abhorrent. Contemplating the murder of Alena Ivanovna, he dreams of an incident from his childhood when several peasants beat a horse to death. He is horrified at the senseless brutality and cruelty of the peasants; after Mikolka, the owner of the horse, slams a crowbar into the mare and finally kills her, the young Raskolnikov runs to the body, sobbing, and kisses the mare, then tries to attack Mikolka. He asks his father, "Papa, why did t...

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...al of a man, of his gradual regeneration, of his slow progress from one world into another." Although dearly purchased, Raskolnikov has at last found inner peace.

Works Cited

Barnhart, Joe and Linda Kraeger. Dostoyevsky on Evil and Atonement: The Ontology

of Personalism in his Major Fiction. Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1992.

Cameron, Norman, trans. Freedom and the Tragic Life: A Study in Dostoyevsky. By

Vyecheslav Ivanov. New York: Noonday Press, 1960.

Dostoevski, Feodor. Crime and Punishment. Trans. Jessie Coulson. Ed. George Gibian. New York: Norton, 1964.

Gibson, A Boyce. The Religion of Dostoyevsky. Philadelphia: Westmenster Press, 1973.

Morsm, Gary Saul. "How to Read. Crime and Punishment." Commentary 1992 June

O'Grady, Desmond. "Dostoyevsky Lives: Apostle of Interior Freedom." Commonweal November, 1994: 6-7.