Crime and Punishment: Protagonist and Antagonist Essay

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Crime and Punishment: Protagonist and Antagonist Essay

Crime and Punishment is considered by many to be the first of Fyodor Dostoevsky's great books. Crime and Punishment is a psychological account of a crime. The crime is double murder. A book about such a broad subject can be made powerful and appealing to our intellectual interests if there is a link between the reader, the action, and the characters. Doestoevsky makes all these links at the right places. The action takes place between the protagonists and the antagonists. The protagonists include Dounia, the Marmeladovs, Sonia, Razumhin, Porfiry Petrovich, and Nastaya. The antagonists of the story are Luzhin, Ilya Petrovich, and the landlady. Raskolnikov could be considered to be the primary protagonist, while Svidrigailov could be thought of as the primary antagonist.

In every story the protagonist is the character that the reader cares most about. In Crime and Punishment the reader cares about Rodion Raskolnikov. He is the primary and most significant character in the novel. We are introduced to this complex character in Part 1. We get to know the poverty stricken condition that he resides in, and we get to know his family situation as we read the long letter from Raskolnikov's mother. Then we witness the murder as it is graphically described by Doestoevsky. After reading this graphic description of the murder, how can the reader be sympathetic towards Raskolnikov? How can the reader believe that a murderer is the protagonist? It is, in fact, not hard to accept this murderer as the protagonist. Raskolnikov believed that by murdering the pawnbroker, he rid society of a pest. We realize that if the victim would have been someone other than an evil old pawnbroker the crime would never had taken place. He could never have found the courage to kill an innocent person. It would not prove anything to him. So, Raskolnikov was not a criminal. He does not repent because he does not feel that he had sinned. All he did was violate laws that were made by society. Raskolnikov definition of crime was evil will in action. Raskolnikov knows that he possesses no evil will, and so he does not consider himself a criminal. He is capable of justifying his crime. He murdered a pawnbroker that was of no use to society and wanted to use her money to improve his life and career. Not only was he helping himself by attempting to improve his career, but he was also helping society as society would benefit from his career. He would also free his mother and sister from the encumbrance of financially supporting him, and thus maybe even prevent the marriage of his sister to the evil Luzhin. We are introduced to Raskolnikov's thoughts about mankind when we read about Raskolnikov's published article. He divides man into two classes: the extraordinary man and the ordinary man. He considers himself extraordinary and the pawnbroker to be ordinary. Presumably, the murder of the pawnbroker was an experiment of his theory. One could argue that his experiment failed because he had to rely on his family and friends and because he confessed, unlike how his theory suggests. Maybe he was not the extraordinary person he thought he was. Maybe his theory was bogus. In either case, his theory proved that Raskolnikov had an intellectual side. From this we can believe that he did not murder for the money but he really believed that he was superior and he was doing society a favor. Perhaps he was not superior, but it can be safe to say that he did society a favor. The same society that he did a favor for does not believe in Raskolnikov's explanation. Society believes that murder is wrong. Society's morals and rules dictate that crime is wrong no matter what the circumstances. It is evident that Raskolnikov did not believe in society's definition of crime and he proved this by murdering the pawnbroker. We still find sympathy for him, as deep down inside we perchance...
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