Crime and Punishment Essay

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Melody Fadaee
AP American Literature

Suffer or Suicide: Only Great Men Take the Right Path

In the novel Crime and Punishment, Feodor Dostoevsky illustrates how sinners have a choice to either suffer and face the consequences of their actions, or escape the pain by ending their suffering and ultimately ending their lives. While both Raskolnikov and Svidrigylov are sinners, Raskolnikov’s mental and physical sufferings lead him to ultimately choose to suffer and hope for redemption, whereas Svidrigylov decides to take his life, stopping his incoming suffering. Through his depiction of Raskolnikov and Svidrigylov’s sins and sufferings, along with their decisions to either bear it or end it, Dostoevsky shows that a person’s suffering can ultimately guide them to the path of redemption. Suffering is an inescapable experience that every human being must go through in order to live a fulfilled life. Dostoevsky writes, “Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart. The really great men must, I think, have great sadness on earth” (224). He is trying to make a statement that one cannot live life without suffering, and all those that avoid it are weak and ultimately not fit for true living. Dostoevsky’s perspective on suicide is apparent as he writes about the two similar suicides in the novel, one of a lady who “flung herself into the canal” (144), but was unsuccessful in her attempt, and then Svidrigylov’s suicide, which was successful. Also depicting how some sufferings are worse than others, Dostoevsky makes it clear that although one may be suffering, there is always a worse alternative, and the longer one withstands the suffering, the better the redemption. The suffering of guilt is less than the suffering of death, the suffering of prostitution is less than the suffering of starvation, and the suffering of confessing is less than the suffering of not confessing. From the first page of the novel, Raskolnikov is depicted as...
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