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In the novel Crime and Punishment, the so-called "extraordinary man" theory plays an important role. Raskolnikov, downtrodden, and psychologically battered, believes himself to be exempt from the laws of ordinary men. It is this creedo that makes him believe he has the right to murder Alyona Ivanovna.
In the nineteenth century, the extraordinary man theory was widely popular. There were two main schools of thought on the subject, the proponents of which were the philosophers Georg Hegel and Freiderich Neitzsche. Both philosophers believed that there were a certain, select, handful of extraordinary people in the world. Both believed that these extraordinary people were above the laws of ordinary men and did not have to submit to their moral code. However, these philosophers disagreed on the motivation of the extraordinary man. Hegel believed that the "superman" could ignore the laws as long as his actions benefited the race of man as a whole. On the other hand, Neitzsche believed that the superman broke the laws in order to benefit himself alone.
In a way, Raskolnikov submits to both theories of the extraordinary man. What is important to understand is why Raskolnikov believes himself to be extraordinary. Firstly, Raskolnikov's perilous financial state and near destitution cause him to be pushed to the edge of sanity. Secondly, the natural arrogance that stems from possessing a great intellect (which Raskolnikov does) causes Raskolnikov to believe that he is above everyone else. In respect to his crime, one can look at it from both the Hegelian and Neitzschean point of view.
For the first five sections of Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov takes a Hegelian view of his crime. He convinces himself that he killed Alyona Ivanovna because she was a bloodsucking leach on the body of the poor. Raskolnikov believes he is doing mankind a service by removing the dishonest and unfair pawnbroker. It is not until part six that Raskolnikov admits to himself that his ultimate motive was Neitzschean. He finally admits to Sonia that he killed Alyona just to see if he could do it. He wanted to know whether he was a "Napoleon," able to commit an evil act and walk away with no remorse. In short, Raskolnikov killed Alyona not because she was dishonest and he needed money, he killed her simply to benefit his ego.
In some ways, the extraordinary man theory also applies to Svidrigailov and Luzhin.
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"Downfall and Salvation in Crime and Punishment." 123HelpMe.com. 19 Aug 2018
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