Crime and Punishment: Analysis

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ime and Punishment

“Nobody, but he who has felt it, can conceive what a plaguing thing it is to have a man’s mind torn asunder by two projects of equal strength, both obstinately pulling in contrary direction at the time.” (Laurence Sterne) In Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, it is this exact miscalculation that leads the protagonist Raskolnikov (Rodya) to his ultimate mental, physical and social demise. Similarly, the theme of the novel directly correlates to Sterne’s quote, as Dostoyevsky delves into the psychology of a criminal, centering the novel on a murder and its after-affects on the transgressor. Dostoyevsky’s use of an omniscient viewpoint leaves the character of Rodya with a slight ambiguity, as privy to his emotions an occasional pang of sympathy is felt while he battles his inner thoughts. In the opening pages of the novel, Rodya is already pained with a decaying mind as he contemplates the robbery and murder of an elderly pawnbroker, but at the same time battles with his conscience as to the morality of this act. “Good God, can it be, can it be, that I shall really take an axe, that I shall strike her on the head, split her skull open…that I shall tread in the sticky warm blood, break the lock, steal and tremble; hide, all in splattered blood…with the axe…Good God can it be” (Dostoyevsky 61). At this point Rodya recognizes that his intended actions are entirely evil, but simultaneously calls for empathy as the audience is privy to his inner disgust with himself. This parallels with the psychology of a criminal theme, as his mind is pulled in opposing directions, and his mental capacity is reached. Moreover, Rodya’s physical health is impacted just as severely when his delirium and fever turn into an extended bed stay. Throughout the novel the insanity in his mind, escapes not only through his dialogue, but also through his physical bouts with fainting, fever, and lack of appetite. Rodya’s original fainting spell in the...
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