AP English IV
The Redemption Cycle
The development of theme is an intricate process that combines various elements of the novel. This fusion of diversified elements of the novel serves to highlight pertinent characteristics of the theme. In Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky utilizes the development of secondary characters and Raskolnikov’s guilt to depict the idea of redemption. The characters of Sonya and Svidrigailov represent the polar ends of Raskolnikov’s personality, and highlight the “process of spiritual regeneration” (Telgen and Hile 76) that Raskolnikov must follow for rehabilitation. Raskolnikov and Svidrigailov’s erratic dreams and Raskolnikov’s strange behavioral patterns upon committing the murder highlight the influences of guilt. These factors are utilized by Dostoevsky in order to highlight the fundamental concept of the cycle of redemption.
The secondary characters in the novel serve to accentuate certain characteristics of Raskolnikov that in turn project the central idea of the novel. The most effective of Dostoevsky’s secondary characters are Svidrigailov and Sonya. While Svidrigailov is the “philosophic embodiment of Raskolnikov’s desire to be above morality” (Wasiolek 22), Sonya is the innocence and rehabilitation that Rodya seeks. Both characters highlight some of Raskolnikov’s contrasting characteristics.
The power of these connections is evident in Svidrigailov’s implicit and explicit connections to Raskolnikov. Dostoevsky portrays Svidrigailov as “Raskolnikov’s dark self, as an extrapolation of the would-be superman in Raskolnikov” (Seeley 81) who is a more direct and explicit characterization of Raskolnikov’s suffering. Svidrigailov’s dreams the night before his suicide are “a confirmation of his guilt” (Seeley 82). This guilt enhances the reader’s understanding of Raskolnikov’s guilt. Rodya’s strange delirium and isolation are justified by Svidrigailov’s guilt-ridden dreams. The...
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