The Unraveling of Sanity:
Guilt as the Cause of Raskolnikov’s Mental Instability in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment
Eric Matthew Charles Sheldon
Word Count: 1650
This Written Assignment will delve into the mind of Raskolnikov and show how Raskolnikov’s guilt causes his mental instability. Raskolnikov’s guilt also causes his other physical symptoms. The way Raskolnikov relieves his guilt is by his confession to the police, after the scene in the Hay Market, in which he kisses the ground. Raskolnikov’s guilt stems from the confliction of his humanity with the atrocity that he committed when he murdered “‘the old pawnbroker woman and her sister Lizaveta with an axe and robbed them.’” (Dostoevsky 526). Raskolnikov was motivated not only by his greed and lust for money, but by many other factors. Raskolnikov was “crushed by poverty” (Dostoevsky 1) and was barely able to buy food. Another motivation for Raskolnikov was his idea that he is a “superman” and that he was allowed, even supposed, to harm others and kill for the good of society. These factors: greed, hunger, the idea of “supermen” etc. all contributed to the fall of Raskolnikov. The idea that Raskolnikov is a superman comes from his time at university where he wrote a paper called “On Crime.” Raskolnikov believes that society has been "somewhat arbitrarily" divided into two groups, the ordinary and the extraordinary. Raskolnikov believes that the duty of the “ordinary” is to be like sheep, the society its self. The second group, the “extraordinary” are those who are better, a step above the rest. They have the ability and the responsibility to overstep morals and disregard the rights of the “ordinary.” The “Supermen” have a duty to society to break whatever laws and restrictions that apply to the “ordinary” to better the society as a whole. Raskolnikov labels Napoleon as one of these “Supermen”. He tells us that Napoleon had the right to kill all of the men that he did...
Cited: Dostoevsky, Fydor. Crime and Punishment. Trans. Constance Gartnett. New York: Random
House, 2003. Print.
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