The Significance of Lazarus’s Resurrection
In the Russian novel Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, the main character, Raskalnikov goes through a vast time period of great psychological turmoil. When comparing and contrasting this death and reincarnation of his consciousness and mind to the biblical tale of Lazarus’s resurrection, the author not only highlights the extremeness of the crimes he has committed, but also touches on the importance of recognizing one’s guilt. This theme of reconciliation and religion becomes one of the central themes of the novel.
Raskalnikov’s personality and behavior significantly changes right after he kills Alyona Ivanovna and her sister, Lizaveta. This event took place in total madness because the thoughts and sincerity that Raskalnikov held on to were murdered along with the woman. “But a sort of absentmindedness, even something live reverie, began gradually to take possession of him: as if he forgot himself at moments or, better, forgot the main thing and clung to trifles” (80). As Raskalnikov begins to lose more and more of his mind, the story of Lazarus’s resurrection comes into play. In theory, this is a symbol for Raskalnikov’s mind. This comparison is significant because it provides an idea of the foreshadowing involving a reincarnation of morals and convictions. This also ties into another one of the novel’s themes which is the various versions of reality. Lazarus was dying of a disease on the border between death and life, whereas Raskalnikov was balancing on the border of madness and sanity. When Lazarus physically dies, Raskalnikov’s sanity also dies; the death of his mind. In part IV, chapter IV, Raskalnikov goes to Sonya’s room and demands her to read him the passage in the bible about Lazarus. “Raskalnikov partly understood why Sonya was hesitant to read to him, and the more he understood it, the more rudely and irritably he insisted on her reading” (326). As the reading goes on, he begins to understand...
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