Crime and Punishment and Freud
Hubris, or extreme pride, has been the downfall of heroes since the beginning of story-telling. In fact, pride is considered one of the seven deadly sins that can bring nothing but pain in the end and has been condemned by the church and the majority of the world. Psychology has named this excessive pride narcissism, a disorder that by definition, entitles that one feels extreme love and high regards for themself. Many serial killers have been diagnosed with this disorder, such as Ted Bundy, due to their low regard for the lives of anyone but themselves. Sigmund Freud, the controversial psychologist of the nineteenth century, believed that narcissism stemmed from denial of love in the early stages of development. That lack of love caused one to find it elsewhere: in himself. Actions of a narcissist were not rational, according to Freud, nor are those of any human because humans are not rational and are driven by violent and sexual impulses. In Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel, Crime and Punishment, the main character Raskolnikov believes himself to be an ‘extraordinary man’ who is above the law and believes his life is more valuable than anyone else’s. Because of his illusion of superiority, he brutally murders a woman. Raskolnikov’s reason for the murder was simple: he wanted to better the world by ridding everyone of this nuisance to society. He was motivated, however, by the superiority he felt over everyone else which was fueled by an excessive love for himself in an attempt to make up for a childhood of an absent father and a lack of attention from his mother.
Prior to the murder, Raskolnikov receives a letter from his mother, discussing his sister's future marriage. In the letter, she apologizes for neglecting to write sooner, and repeatedly tells Raskolnikov how much she loves him. However by the time he finished the letter, his initial happiness turned into 'bitter, wrathful, and malignant smile.' (Dostoyevsky 35)....
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