Psychoanalysis of Raskolnikov’s Horse Dream in Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment

Topics: Crime and Punishment, Carriage Pages: 7 (2053 words) Published: May 28, 2014
Psychoanalysis of Raskolnikov’s Horse Dream in Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment
To completely capture the essence of a human being, and discover inner qualities that he may not even know he has, it is necessary to analyze deep into a person’s subconscious. In other words, an analysis of his or her dreams would have to occur. Dreams are the door to the inner workings of the mind just as eyes are the windows to the soul; they are able to relay what a person’s subconscious is trying to say, because while he or she sleeps, “the subconscious does not need to battle with the conscious mind” (Llewellyn). In Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novel, Crime and Punishment, Dostoyevsky explains several dreams that his characters have in the novel. Each dream represents the subconscious desires and fears that the individual characters have. However, Raskolnikov’s horse dream in the beginning of Crime and Punishment impacts the entire book the most; the dream “makes a powerful impression” (Dostoyevsky 52) on Raskolnikov’s actions and relationships prior to, during, and after the murder. Dostoyevsky uses dense situation rhyme, in regards to the master-slave relationship, and several symbols, including the crowd and Mikolka, to show the importance of Raskolnikov’s dream, and how it explains Raskolnikov’s character and religious beliefs.

Before the dream is analyzed, it is important to briefly discuss the dream itself and the context in which it occurs. Before he kills Aliona and Lizaveta, Raskolnikov is a nervous wreck; He is distracted and feverish. These emotions are normal for Raskolnikov in this scenario however because he is planning on killing somebody in cold blood. While walking down a street in St. Petersburg, Raskolnikov passes “luxurious carriages and men and women on horseback” which is a crucial aspect of the dream (52). He also walks into a tavern for a glass of vodka and a meat pie. After drinking the one glass of vodka, Raskolnikov, currently an extreme lightweight, passes out in a bush and experiences the dream. In the dream, he is walking down a street in alongside his father with a dark wood, usually symbolic of the subconscious, off in the distance. While walking with his father, he passes a tavern, which “made the most unpleasant impression on him” (52) because of the noisy crowds, a familiar “stone church with a green cupola” (53) that he went to morning mass at as a child, and a cemetery that holds his deceased brother that is unknown by Raskolnikov. Finally, they see a man, Mikolka, who is letting passengers board his horse drawn carriage while beating the mare with a whip. After several of the passengers join in, Mikolka eventually kills the horse with a crowbar. All the while, his father is saying to Raskolnikov, “It’s not our business” (57) and trying to take him away from the scene.

Raskolnikov’s father is not present for a majority of the scene when the mare is being beaten, or in the entire book at all for that matter. This absence of a father figure attributes to Raskolnikov’s disbelief in religion. The father in his dream refers to God. In the dream his “father” is trying to protect him by not letting him see what evils can really happen in the world. He is trying to get Raskolnikov to mind his own business even though Raskolnikov can see that the mare is getting beaten to death. However Raskolnikov is unable to allow this torture to happen because of his sympathetic and generous nature, which is shown when he gives money to poor women on the street: ‘Let’s go, let’s go,’ his father says. ‘They’re drunk, they’re fooling around, they’re idiots. You mustn’t look, let’s go!’ His father tries to lead him away, but he tears himself loose from his father’s hands and, beside himself, runs toward the horse. For the poor horse, things are in a bad way. (53). Raskolnikov takes his father’s unwillingness to help the horse as a betrayal. He realizes the “limitations of his father’s moral and physical power” (Bloom 155)....

Cited: Bloom, Harold. Bloom’s Major Literary Characters: Raskolnikov and Svidrigailov.
Broomall: Chelsea House, 2004. Google Book Search. Web. 6 April 2014.
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor. Crime and Punishment. 1866. Trans. Sidney Monas. New York: Signet, 2006. Print.
Llewellyn Worldwide. Dreams: What are they trying to tell us?. 1 November, 2004. Web.
9 April, 2014.
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