Raskolnikov, a former student, forced to drop out of the university because he is unable to afford the tuition, is forced to work part-time with his friend Razumihin as a translator. Through this endeavor, Raskolnikov, or Rodya as his mother calls him, becomes well versed in the literature and existentialist philosophies of the time. Writing to a local newspaper, Rodya ventures to propose a superman theory similar to that of Nietzsche, made popular around the time Dostoevsky wrote the novel. “I only believe in my leading idea that men are in general divided by a law of nature into two categories, inferior (ordinary)… and men who have the gift or the talent to utter a new word.” This principle, that man is simply either ordinary or extraordinary, limited by rules and boundaries or allowed to transgress these barriers en route to his planned greater goal for humanity, gains Raskolnikov little profit or renown. Though the extraordinary man theory could easily be applied to Napoleon, as is done in Rodya’s thesis, few of Dostoevsky’s characters accept its revolutionary psychological approach to criminal behavior. Only the lead detective, Porfiry Petrovich, comes to accept Raskolnikov’s approach. This parallel epiphany is ironic, indeed, because throughout the novel, Rodya and Porfiry are cast as foils. Even this revelation, though...
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...ian author, Dostoevsky, Turgenev, and Zamyatin, alienates true visionaries from their natural place at the head of society and implies a theme of the perils of idealism. Raskolnikov discovers a rationale for committing crimes in the name of a greater good, only to also discover the theory’s incredibly difficult guidelines of extraordinary men through self-experimentation. Bazarov’s nihilism and rationality is entirely contradicted by his adoption of romanticism in some circumstances, and the impossibility of nihilism is shown through his ignorance of this contradiction. D-503 awakens within himself a long-absent human nature with unlimited creative potential, only to realize its dangerous, anarchistic possibilities. Each protagonist comes across a revolutionary idea, only to eventually be dismissed, and ultimately forgotten, by society.
Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment (New York, NY: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc., 1981) 243.
Ivan Turgenev, Fathers and Sons (New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 1996) 18.
Yevgeny Zamyatin, We (New York, NY: Avon Books, Inc., 1972) 56.
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