Gender and Evil in Crime and Punishment and The Master and Margarita
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Gender and Evil
The conflict between good and evil is one of the most common conventional themes in literature. Coping with evil is a fundamental struggle with which all human beings must contend. Sometimes evil comes from within a character, and sometimes other characters are the source of evil; but evil is always something that the characters struggle to overcome. In two Russian novels, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, men and women cope with their problems differently. Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment and the Master in The Master and Margarita can not cope and fall apart, whereas Sonya in Crime and Punishment and Margarita in The Master and Margarita, not only cope but pull the men out of their suffering.
The main character in Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov, has nihilistic ideas, which ultimately lead to his own suffering. Raskolnikov, an impoverished student, conceives of himself as being an extraordinary man who has the right to commit any crime. He believes that as an extraordinary man that he is beyond good and evil. Since he does not believe in God, he cannot accept any moral laws. To prove his theory, he murders an old pawnbroker and her step sister. Besides, he rationalizes that he has done society a favor by getting rid of the evil pawnbroker who would cheat people. Immediately after the murders, he begins to suffer emotionally. Raskolnikiv “[feels] a terrible disorder within himself. He [is] afraid of losing his control…” (Dostoevsky 95). He becomes ill and lies in his room in a semi-conscious state. As soon as he is well and can walk again, he goes out and reads about the crime in all the newspapers of the last few days. The sheer mention of the murder...
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... cope and so they suffer, yet the women find ways to cope with the evil. The men completely fall apart and suffer both physically and mentally. The women even save the men by helping them end their suffering. However, the women do it in very different ways. Sonya in Crime and Punishment turns to God, while Margarita in The Master and Margarita turns to the Devil. Both women realize that in order to end the suffering, they must find a way to escape from it
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Dostoevsky, Fyodor. Crime and Punishment. Trans. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.
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