Raskolnikov's Dreams

Better Essays
Eli Jackson
European Literature
4/23/12

Dreams are used In Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment as a tool that adds depth and insight. In the novel, symbolism in the dreams is used to develop Raskolnikov’s character, and to establish recurring themes. The dreams also add a window into the subconscious of Raskolnikov, so that he might better be understood by the reader. Without the two most important dreams, Raskolnikov’s character would not have been nearly as well understood. The complex dreams greatly added to the novel and to the development of Raskolnikov as a character.

Raskolnikov’s first dream in the novel shows his split personality through two different characters. Mikolka is an aspect of Raskolnikov, and represents
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The young Raskolnikov represents his goodness and innocence. When Mikolka is beating the horse, the child cannot understand why. He asks his father “What are they doing? Father, they are beating the poor horse! (59)” The child in him sees that Mikolka’s reasons for beating the horse are silly and cruel. This part of Raskolnikov doesn’t understand the reasoning for the murder, and knows it is wrong. Even though the child knows this, he is only a child and is helpless to stop the grown men from beating the mare to death. After the mare dies, the child feels that Mikolka must be punished. The child “Jumped up and flew into a frenzy with his little fists out at Mikolka (61-62).” This part of Raskolnikov is seeking punishment for the murder, and foreshadows how Raskolnikov will punish himself through his guilt and paranoia. The good part of Raskolnikov knows that the murder is an injustice, but is too weak to stop it. Raskolnikov has an inner conflict, but his cruel side can easily overpower the child in him that calls for …show more content…
In this dream, he finds the old woman sitting under a cloak silently laughing. He tries to kill her again, but he cannot kill her because he can’t kill what she stood for. After first meeting the pawnbroker, he overheard a student saying “....She is wearing out the lives of others...(68). After hearing this conversation he thinks to himself that he “was just conceiving the very same idea (69).” To Raskolnikov, the pawn broker represents the poor being taken advantage of, and all that is bad in the world. He thinks that by killing her, he might also be able to help the poor and be extraordinary. He has already killed her body, but when he tried to kill her in his dream, its like he was hitting wood. After the first few blows, he tries to peep under the cloak that the old woman is covered up with. He sees “the old woman was sitting and laughing, shaking with noiseless laughter (277-278).” The old lady is laughing at his foolishness for thinking he might kill the ideal. As he starts bashing her in a frenzy, he hears whispers and runs out of the room. He is met with “rows of heads, all looking, but huddled together in silence and expectation (278).” These silent people could represent his paranoia at being caught, which would mean he isn’t extraordinary. Raskolnikov is absolutely terrified at the thought he might just be ordinary, and plain. This further develops his character as someone

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