Book Review: Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment

Topics: Crime and Punishment, Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, The Brothers Karamazov Pages: 22 (8051 words) Published: November 22, 2012
Crime and Punishment Novel Responses
“He was so immersed in himself and had isolated himself so much from everyone that he was afraid not only of meeting his landlady but of meeting anyone at all. He was crushed by poverty; but even his strained circumstances had lately ceased to burden him.” By portraying the protagonist as an individual who is going through major suffering, Dostoevsky allows the audience to establish that Raskolnikov is beginning to detach and isolate himself from the world, thus allowing the audience to understand his actions later on in the novel. The second sentence creates a sense of apathy because even though he is “crushed by poverty”, the circumstances that he faces “ceased to burden him”. “Raskolnikov had a terrible dream...To shouts of ‘Giddap!’ the little mare starts pulling with all her might, but she can scarcely manage a slow walk, much less a gallop... ‘Take an axe to her! Finish her off fast,’ shouts a third... The nag stretches out her muzzle, heaves a deep sigh, and dies... ‘Papa! What did they...kill...the poor horse for!’ [Raskolnikov] sobs, but his breath fails, and the words burst like cries from his straining chest.

Dostoevsky uses the story of the murder of the horse to foreshadow the oncoming violence that will happen later on in the novel. The author conveys this scene to be very graphic by using imagery, and this accentuates the concept of guilt that Raskolnikov feels about committing a crime, thus suggesting that it is not his nature to be violent, however the suffering that he has encountered has driven him to the point of violence. “Kill her and take her money, so that afterwards with its help you can devote yourself to the service of all mankind and the common cause’... ‘Of course, she doesn’t deserve to be alive,’...” Raskolnikov overheard this conversation between men in a bar, which shows that it isn’t a coincidence as he was also contemplating doing a similar act himself. This conversation allowed Raskolnikov to create more of a reason for him to commit the crime as he now knows that he is not the only one that considered this. Dostoevsky uses this to accentuate the protagonist’s eagerness to carry out actions in which he believes are appropriate, even if it is morally and legally wrong. “Here a strange thought came into his head: perhaps all his clothes were covered with blood, perhaps there were stains all over them, and he simply did not see, did not notice them, because his reason was failing, going to pieces...his mind darkening” Doestoevsky uses a limited omniscient narrator to convey Raskolnikov’s deteriorating state of mind and descend into insanity. By displaying Raskolnikov’s thought process, Doestoevsky is able convey the overwhelming guilt that is clouding Raskolnikov’s mind. The author depicts the frantic nature in which Raskolnikov sees himself thus portraying a sense of paranoia and the burden of the crime in which he committed. Chindasook3

Where was it,’ Raskolnikov thought as he walked on, ‘where was it that I read about a man condemned to death saying or thinking, an hour before his death, that if he had to live somewhere high up on a cliffside, on a ledge so narrow that there was room only for his two feet--and with the abyss, the ocean, eternal darkness, eternal solitude, eternal storm all around him--and had to stay like that, on a square foot of space, an entire lifetime, a thousand years, an eternity--it would be better to live so than to die right now! Only to live, to live, to live! To live, no matter how--only to live!’ The author portrays the internal conflict that Raskolnikov is experiencing about whether or not to confess through the juxtaposition of life and death. Dostoevsky uses the metaphor of the man on the ledge to depict an image of how Raskolnikov’s life would turn out to be if he holds on to his secret. However, the epistrophe of the phrase “to live” enunciates the internal conflict that the protagonist is...
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