Essay on The Murderer's Motives in Dostoevsky's Crime & Punishment

Essay on The Murderer's Motives in Dostoevsky's Crime & Punishment

Length: 2410 words (6.9 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Murderer's Motives in Dostoevsky's Crime & Punishment


The beauty of Crime and Punishment is that there are no absolutes. It is a 19th century murder mystery, with the identity of the murderer clear, but the murderer's reasons far from being so. Although each chapter was replete with uncertainty, no other facet of the novel caused greater vexation both during the reading and even after its conclusion than what drove Raskol'nikov to commit the murder. That is not to say that he committed murder without purpose or reason, that he was just a cookie cutter villain with no purpose; instead, he is a multi-faceted character that is both likable and a scoundrel at once. The protagonist himself is unsure why he plans and carries out what he does. As he went to bury what he had stolen, he asked himself: "If it all has really been done deliberately and not idiotically, if I really had a certain and definite object, how is it I did not even glance into the purse and don't know what I had there, for what I have undergone these agonies and have deliberately undertaken this base, filthy, degrading business?" (Part II, Ch. 2, pgs. 92-93). The reader is not left completely in the dark, however, as motives were established. The caveat being that motive is plural, and motive is usually a mutually exclusive term. The first motive to be presented, and the strongest in the novel during Raskol'nikov's planning stages, was the issue of poverty. He was destitute, living in squalor, and in need of money to crawl out of his grave-like flat. After the murder was committed and Raskol'nikov came under suspicion, he came face to face with the inspector general, Porfiry Petrovich. Their discussion made the cut-and-dried appearance of the motive tu...


... middle of paper ...


...orce behind his confession and struggle with his conscience. Does this lessen its impact as a motive? Of course not, due to the Russian psyche. Raskol'nikov may not have explicitly mentioned a "will to suffer" in his thoughts prior to the murder, but as a Russian who professed to believe in God and the Eastern Orthodox Church (although it was not always apparent, he was at least raised in such an environment), he sought suffering. It may not have been an active goal, but it was there, hiding in his subconscious. Such a complex motive is worthy of such a complex subject.

Works Cited

Beebe, Maurice. "The Three Motives of Raskol'nikov." As printed in Crime and Punishment. Ed. By George Gibian. W. W. Norton & Company. 3rd Edition. New York, 1989.

Dostoevsky, Feodor. Crime and Punishment. Ed. By George Gibian. W. W. Norton & Company. 3rd Edition. New York, 1989.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime And Punishment Essay

- Life is a wheel rolling inexorably forward through the temporal realm of existence. There are those that succumb to its motion and there are a certain few, like Christ and Napoleon, who temporarily grasp the wheel and shape all life around them. "Normal" people accept their positions in life and are bound by law and morality. Extraordinary people, on the other hand, supersede the law and forge the direction and progress of society. Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky, is the story of a group of people caught beneath the wheel and their different reactions to their predicament....   [tags: Crime and Punishment Essays]

Free Essays
1732 words (4.9 pages)

Essay on The Death Penalty And Capital Punishment

- The United States was the only country in the Americas to carry out an execution in 2015, according to Amnesty International (2016). Researchers at the Death Penalty Information Center, a non-for-profit organization that provides the public with information regarding the death penalty, have determined that the United States carried out 1,437 executions since 1976 (2016). However, since the 1990s, the number of executions has steadily decreased, reflecting the recent opinions Americans hold toward the death penalty (Jones 2013)....   [tags: Capital punishment]

Powerful Essays
989 words (2.8 pages)

Capital Punishment: The Easy Way Out Essay

- At 12:17 A.M. on June 18th, Ronnie Lee Gardner was pronounced dead as a result of a number of strategically placed bullets lodged into his body. As Gardner took his last breaths of life, his murderer was far removed from the crime, relaxing knowing he would never be convicted for the murder he just committed. Ronnie Lee Gardner may or may not have deserved this death, as he also was a convicted murderer, killing two with the pull of a trigger; however, this does not reserve the right for the United States government to allow him to die by firing squad....   [tags: Capital Punishment, Death Penalty]

Powerful Essays
919 words (2.6 pages)

Comparing Death And Justice : How Capital Punishment Affirms Life By Edward Koch And The Death Penalty

- Justifying the Death Penalty: An Analysis of Two Essays “Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them. Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement” (Tolkien, 1994.) Capital punishment, or more commonly known as the death penalty, has been a hotly controversial issue throughout the history of humankind. Some people have the view that Hammurabi had in his own law code, “an eye for an eye,” whereas others believe that it is wrong to kill another person no matter the nature of their crime....   [tags: Capital punishment, Murder, Death row, Crime]

Powerful Essays
1073 words (3.1 pages)

Essay about Mass Murderers And The Disorganized Killer

- A mass murderer is a person that kills three or more people at once in the same place. Most of these killers are adult males that have suffered a humiliating phenomenon, like being fired or thrown out of their own house ( "Mass Killers-Characteristics"). They generally act on a whim and attack random people, usually with the use of firearms. After the attack, they will usually end their own lives or surrender, putting their fate in the hands of the state government. In some cases, mass murderers are not even sentenced for life in prison; they are institutionalized in a psychiatric hospital or serve time in prison despite the vile crime they have committed....   [tags: Murder, Capital punishment, Crime]

Powerful Essays
1202 words (3.4 pages)

The Brutality of Capital Punishment Essay

- The Brutality of Capital Punishment       The use of capital punishment has been a permanent fixture in society since the earliest civilizations and continues to be used as a form of punishment today.  It has been used for various crimes ranging from the desertion of soldiers during wartime to the more heinous crimes of serial killers. However, the mere fact that this brutal form of punishment and revenge has been the policy of many nations in the past does not subsequently warrant its implementation in today's society.  The death penalty is morally and socially unethical, should be construed as cruel and unusual punishment since it is both discriminatory and arbitrary, has no pro...   [tags: Argumentative Persuasive Essays]

Free Essays
2172 words (6.2 pages)

The Death Penalty: Right or Wrong? Essay

- This essay will discuss the various views regarding the death penalty and its current status in the United States. It can be said that almost all of us are familiar with the saying “An eye for an eye” and for most people that is how the death penalty is viewed. In most people’s eyes, if a person is convicted without a doubt of murdering someone, it is believed that he/she should pay for that crime with their own life. However, there are some people who believe that enforcing the death penalty makes society look just as guilty as the convicted....   [tags: Capital Punishment]

Powerful Essays
1942 words (5.5 pages)

Psychology Behind Murderers Essay

- A murderer is defined as someone who has committed the crime of taking the life of an individua.l Murderers are usually triggered by an event and are harder to profile, as murders aren’t likely to commit the crime more than once. A serial killer; however, is someone who kills more than three times within a relatively short interval of time and are more easily identified through their similar characteristics. Although, murderers may not have committed the crime more than once does not mean that they don’t have a similar general characteristics....   [tags: narcissisim,isolation,serial killer, crime]

Powerful Essays
980 words (2.8 pages)

The Theory Of The Justice System Essay

- To achieve justice for all involved, then every party must submit their contribution honestly; additionally, they must critically think about motives behind their actions and words. This is the ideal mindset when accusing a crime, but there are people only want the upper hand and will use any means possible to have it. These people will place false accusations against those who have wronged them, or to place blame elsewhere. These people do not wish to persuade criminal justice, but use the system for their own gain....   [tags: Rape, Crime, Victim, Capital punishment]

Powerful Essays
1286 words (3.7 pages)

Crime and Punishment - My name is Raskolnikov Essay

- Crime and Punishment - My name is Raskolnikov         It is obvious that Raskolnikov did not kill Alyona. Nikolai did. He confessed, didn't he. Sure, sure, I know what you're saying: Raskolnikov confessed too. But it is obvious that his confession was not a true confession. Raskolnikov had seen Nikolai's true confession, and was so moved that he decided he'd like to try confessing too. And one must not overlook the Christ symbolism in the novel. Raskolnikov is the obvious Christ-figure; he's poor, he's generous, he's schizophrenic....   [tags: Dostoevsky Crime and Punishment]

Free Essays
878 words (2.5 pages)