Secondary School Students
The 2nd Runner Up of English Senior Section
|Name of School |: Wa Ying College | |Name of Award Student |: Chow Tsz Yin, Amelia | |Title of Book Read |: Crime and Punishment | |Author |: Fyodor Dostoyevsky | |Publisher |: Penguin |
On the surface, Crime and Punishment is the story of a murder, set in the city of St. Petersburg, then the Russian capital. It is not, however, a murder mystery: we know the murderer’s identity from the very beginning. Moreover, although Dostoyevsky depicts the crime and the environment in which it takes place with great realism, he is more interested in the psychology of the murderer than in the external specifics of the crime.
Raskolnikov plans to murder and rob an old woman. After the visit, Raskolnikov feels miserable, so he stops at a tavern for a drink. There he meets a drunk named Marmeladov who tells him how his daughter Sonya became a prostitute to support her family. Raskolnikov helps Marmeladov home, and he is touched by the pitiful scene of poverty he sees there. After leaving the family some money, he returns to his cramped room. The next day, Raskolnikov receives a letter from his mother. She informs him that Raskolnikov's sister Dunya is set to marry a bachelor named Luzhin. Raskolnikov realizes that his mother and sister are counting on Luzhin to give him financial assistance after the wedding. As he sees it, Dunya is sacrificing herself for him, a sacrifice that reminds him of Sonya's prostitution. He berates himself for his passivity. Soon afterwards, he falls asleep, and he dreams of watching a peasant beat an overburdened horse to death. When he awakens, he articulates for the first time his plan to kill the pawnbroker with an axe. Hearing that the pawnbroker’s sister would be away from their apartment the next evening, he realizes that the time to execute his plan has arrived. The murder itself does not unfold as intended. Lizaveta, the pawnbroker’s sister, returns home unexpectedly, and Raskolnikov kills her too. Distraught, he finds only a few items of value, and he is nearly discovered by two of the pawnbroker’s clients who knock at the door. When they leave momentarily, Raskolnikov slips out of the apartment undetected.
During the next few days, Raskolnikov alternates between lucidity and delirium. He feels torn between an impulse to confess his crime and an impulse to resist arrest. He begins a game of cat-and-mouse with an examining magistrate, who investigating the murder, Porfiry Petrovich. Porfiry has read an article written by Raskolnikov in which Raskolnikov expounds the theory that a few select individuals may have the right to commit crimes if they think it necessary to attain special goals. Raskolnikov now explains his theory to Porfiry, beginning with the idea that there are two categories of people in the world—the masses and the elite. The first group, that is the material, are, generally speaking, by nature staid and conservative, they live in obedience and like it. They ought to obey because that is their destiny, and there is nothing at all degrading to them in it. The second group is all law-breakers and transgressors, or is inclined that way, in the measure of their capacities. The aims of these people are, of course, relative and very diverse; for the most part they require, in widely different contexts, the destruction of what exists in the name of better things. But if it is necessary for one of them, for the...