Dosteovsky’s novel Crime and Punishment depicts the Biblical account of Jesus’ path to crucifixion burdened with a wooden cross through the character of Raskolnikov. After committing a cold-blooded murder he experiences mental anguish, and in a defeated state, confesses, and accepts the consequences of his crime.
Although the novel begins by focusing on the crime itself, the majority of the book discusses Raskolnikov’s struggle through denial and redemption after the murder has been committed. His own “greatness” leads to his denial of God, and his attempt to suppress his conscience causes insanity and sickness. However these negative consequences force him to acknowledge his rectitude and realize his need for confession.
The prostitute, Sonya, helps Raskolnikov take a step toward redemption by discussing with him the Biblical account of Lazarus’ revival from death. This scene depicts his inability to comprehend Sonya’s God, and epitomizes his refusal to cling to a higher being. Raskolnikov’s incessant pursuit of hindering Sonya’s faith characterized the frustration and struggle he experienced because of spiritual issues. However, his path to confession progressed during their conversation because of his hidden desire to understand Sonya’s faith. With her aid, he took a step toward redemption foreshadowing her action in raising him from the “dead.” Sonya pleads with him to wear her cross and confess to his heinous crime. However, he refuses to accept this burden. This directly parallels with Jesus’ refusal to die before his proper time.
The climax of the novel takes place after Raskolnikov’s realization and acceptance of his consequences. He visits Sonya and receives her cross. Through this action, he accepts punishment and ironically, his life. This gift’s benefactor, Sonya, carries significance in this allusion to the Bible. Sonya, a sinner through the world’s eyes, bestows her cross on Raskolnikov. In addition, she gives him the strength to live again. Jesus was given the cross to carry by the people, sinners by definition of the Bible. By his actions, he gave life back to the people that condemned him to death.
Raskolnikov’s tread to police headquarters for confession paralleled Jesus’ trudge to crucifixion with his cross.
The Theories of Porfiry in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment
The Theories of Porfiry in Crime and Punishment
Raskolnikov commits a murder. He has a theory. Porfiry is an investigator. He too has a theory. Porfiry’s is getting closer and closer to winning. Porfiry Petrovich believes many things about criminal nature–and therefore he believes these things will happen to Raskolnikov, the man that he has pinned as the perpetrator or the murder. He uses the comparison of a butterfly moving closer to a candle, the fact that if he lets the criminal wallow in mixed freedom and terror he will be able to complete a mathematical proof of the crime, and that the criminal’s best move is to tell the truth, during which endeavor he will ultimately lie and fumble his plan. Perhaps Porfiry Petrovich is an excellent wax maker. He also has some very powerful and resilient matches. He uses these skills to light and let burn a candle that keeps Raskolnikov coming to him, so far twice, on the naive pretense of seeing about his father’s watch. We know that Raskolnikov no longer has any care for things in the material world. He deposits all that he stole under a rock. He gave Katerina’s family 25 roubles. Money and goods are not a concern for Raskolnikov. He is there because of the undeniable force of the light which Porfiry is relentlessly shining on him. Raskolnikov fits this aspect of Porfiry’s theory expertly. Unlike Porfiry did to Raskolnikov’s theory, Raskolnikov can find no holes to pick in Porfiry’s.
Descartes believed that mathematics was the only thing that really existed with certainty besides his own existence, his own mind. Porfiry strongly believes in the benefit of having a “mathematical” proof in order to determine the guilty nature of a suspect. Like Descartes, Porfiry is able to doubt all things, such as circumstantial evidence and inclination, in order to await the completion and realization of a “mathematical formula” that leads directly to the true perpetrator of the crime. Porfiry’s equation though is not yet balanced. This is why Raskolnikov is still spared for a time. The eventual arrival of Nikolay disrupts this drive to develop a concrete mathematical theory for Porfiry.