Psychological War: Crime and Punishment

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In Feodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, the main character, Rodion Ramonovich Raskolnikov, becomes very ill due to guilt of a murder he committed. Many times during the novel, Raskolnikov debates whether or not he should confess his crime. When Raskolnikov visits the police station, he converses with an investigator by the name of Porfiry Petrovich. Porfiry is very aware of the crime, and knows without a doubt that Raskolnikov is the culprit. Porfiry does not approach Raskolnikov in the traditional manner of an investigator. Instead, he talks about nonsense that Raskolnikov has no interest in. When Rask feels that he is even close to being interrogated, he becomes offensive and demands that Porfiry stop playing games. Porfiry’s reaction to Rask is always apologetic and one of confusion. Porfiry proclaims that he only wants to have a conversation and nothing more. He states, “I gave it you with both hands, I, an examining magistrate! Don’t you see anything in that? If I suspected you at all, should I have done that? On the contrary, I should first have lulled your suspicions, and pretended that I had not been informed of the fact, I should have drawn your attention in the opposite direction, and then stunned you, as with a blow on the head with an axe…If I haven’t acted like that it follows that I am not harbouring any suspicions,” (Dostoevsky 294). As Rask and Porfiry talk, they undergo a psychological war; a war that is fought for the purpose of Raskolnikov’s welfare and mainly for his confession of the crime. Although Raskolnikov has no intentions of becoming friends with Porfiry, Porfiry has Raskolnikov’s health in mind. Porfiry states, “I know that now you regard my words as a sermon learnt by heart, but perhaps later you will remember them at some time and they will stand you in good stead; that is why I am talking,” (Dostoevsky 388). Rask’s options are to confess, commit suicide, or to run away. Porfiry explains to Rask that the life of a...
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