free booknotes online

Help / FAQ


printable study guide online download notes summary


<- Previous | First | Next ->
FREE Barron's Booknotes-Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky-Free
Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version | MonkeyNotes

REFERENCE

THE CRITICS

The theme of alienation as the source of crime is the subject of this comment:

Crime and Punishment was Dostoevsky's first great revelation to the world, and the main pillar of his subsequent philosophy of life. It was a revelation of the mystic guilt incurred by the personality that shuts itself up in solitude, and for this reason drops put of the comprehensive unity of mankind, and thus also out of the sphere of influence of moral law. A formula has been found for negative self-determination by the individual: the name for it was- isolation. Raskolnikov's incarceration within himself, which was the result of the supreme decision of his free will (a will cut off from the universal whole), finds its final expression in the crime he commits. The sequence is not from crime to self-incarceration, but the converse for from the latter arises the attempt to ensure the strength and autarky of the solitary personality-an attempt which, on the plane of external events, expresses itself as a crime. Vyacheslav Ivanov, Freedom and the Tragic Life

Here's another perspective on the same subject:

Raskolnikov never repented of his crime because he did not hold himself responsible for the murder. He had fancied that he could plan and carry out the deed, but when the time came to act, it was as if he were impelled by forces over which he had no control, by "some decree of blind fate." Man must suffer, he decides, because man, his intellect a delusion and its power demonic, trapped by his instinctive brutality and the conspiracy of his victims, does not will his destiny. "Not on earth, but up yonder," Marmeladov has cried out, "they grieve over men, they weep, but they don't blame them!" [Part I, Chapter 2] The aloneness of man is offended by the gods' refusal to blame what they cannot blame, but once suffering, man's bondage, is accepted man feels a part of something beyond aloneness, feels no longer that he can be a god but that he is part of the God that is "everything." The revelation that comes to Raskolnikov through love and humility "in prison, in freedom," is inevitable because it is the obverse side, the pro, of the will-to-suffering, the contra, that has been throughout the entire novel his primary motivation. Maurice Beebe, "The Three Motives of Raskolnikov," in College English XVII (December, 1955), p. 158.


Raskolnikov is a "double" character. Several critics have commented on that aspect of Crime and Punishment. Here's one:

Crime and Punishment is not only the first of Dostoevsky's stories in which religion plays any part, it is the first in which the double's dilemma is worked out in terms of inwardness. It is also the only novel in which a double is purged. Is Raskolnikov really a double, and does he exhibit affective and moral ambivalence?... Raskolnikov does indeed wobble back and forth between the claims of pride and pity.... he understands that the interior battle is essentially between reason as an instrument of the ego's desire for power and glory, and the heart's sorrow for others.... He represses pity as long as it gets in the way of the egoism that his rational crime is fed by. But he never denies the necessity of pity. "Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart. The really great men must, I think, have great sadness on earth." Not only does he never deny pity, he is constantly tortured by his Titanic pride. He has an instinct within him that solemnly condemns him even while he refuses to listen. In Raskolnikov too the contradictions exist side by side. Repression only acts to elevate one side, it does not make the other any less active. Time after time Raskolnikov's pity produces works of compassion, charity, and self- sacrifice. What makes his simultaneity or doubleness look different is that his reason remains active on one level, and pity on another.... Crime and Punishment is the story of the half-conscious debate of inwardness rising slowly and surely to a fully conscious plane. Raskolnikov confesses to the police, not because he has failed or been caught, but because he knows he cannot resolve the torment of his questionableness or suppress the inward debate. Ralph Harper, The Seventh Solitude pp. 50-51.

Here is another comment on Raskolnikov and the concept of the "double":

Raskolnikov may act irrationally at times, but he is not mad nor even half- mad, and his creator never intended him to be mad....

Raskolnikov is a typical Double. Dostoevsky makes this perfectly clear in Razumikhin's description of his friend in the novel. "He is morose, gloomy, proud, and haughty; of late (and perhaps for a long time before), he has been mistrustful and depressed. He has a noble nature and a kind heart. He does not like to show his feelings, and would rather do a cruel thing than open his heart freely...."

This "alternating between two opposing characters" is the most sustained feature of Raskolnikov's nature.

To the very end of the novel, and even in prison, the dualism of Raskolnikov pursues its relentless course. It is impossible for him to accept either path as the solution: the path of blood and crime to power or the path of submission and suffering to a Christ-like salvation. He loves and hates both, the meekness and submission of Sonya and the self-will and desire for power of Svidrigailov. Indeed, both these characters represent the extreme poles of his dualism and it is psychologically inevitable that he should be drawn to each of them. Ernest J. Simmons, Dostoevsky, The making of a Novelist pp. 142, 147, 151.

Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version | MonkeyNotes


<- Previous | First | Next ->
FREE Barron's Booknotes-Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky-Free
Google
Web
PinkMonkey

Google
  Web PinkMonkey.com   
Google
  Web Search Our Message Boards   

All Contents Copyright © PinkMonkey.com
All rights reserved. Further Distribution Is Strictly Prohibited.


About Us
 | Advertising | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Home Page
This page was last updated: 5/9/2017 9:51:33 AM