In the novel, Crime and Punishment, the principle character, Raskolnikov, has unknowingly published a collection of his thoughts on crime and punishment via an article entitled “On Crime.” Porfiry, who is trying to link Raskolnikov to a murder, has uncovered this article, read it, and tells Raskolnikov that he is very interested in learning about his ideas. Porfiry brings Raskolnikov into this conversation primarily to find out more about Raskolnikov’s possible involvement in the crime. Raskolnikov decides to take him up on the challenge of discussing his theory, and embarks into a large discussion of his philosophy of man.
Raskolnikov holds that by a law of nature men have been “somewhat arbitrarily” divided into two groups–ordinary and extraordinary. Raskolnikov believe that the duty and vocation of the first group is to be servile, the material out of which the world and society is to be formed. The first group are the people of the present, the now. The second group, those who are extraordinary, are a step above the normal, ordinary curs. They have the ability to overstep normal bounds and transgress the rights of those who are simply ordinary. They are the prime movers–they have a right to transcend normal societal strictures to accomplish those things they have determined are valid in their conscience. Extraordinary men are the prime movers. He cites such extraordinary men as Newton, Mahomet, and Napoleon. He tells us that Newton had the right to kill hundreds of men if need be in order to bring to the world knowledge of his findings. Napoleon and other leaders created a new word. They overturned ancient laws and created new ones. They had the right to uphold their new ideal, even if it meant killing innocent men defending the ancient law. “The first class of people preserve and people the world, the second move the world and lead it to its goal.” Despite these tremendous differences in his theory, and the obvious superiority that the extraordinary people are afforded, Raskolnikov maintains that both classes have an equal right to exist. This is interesting, and anyone who sees tremendous problems with this theory must realize this very important point–both classes of men and women are necessary to understand the true meaning of Raskolnikov’s theory.
Without the extraordinary branch of men, without their ability and moral obligation to overstep the bounds of society at certain times, the history of the world would never have progressed to the state that we find ourselves now.
Suffering in Crime and Punishment
Suffering in Crime and Punishment
In the novel Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky, suffering is an integral part of every character’s role. However, the message that Dostoevsky wants to present with the main character, Raskolnikov, is not one of the Christian idea of salvation through suffering. Rather, it appears as if the author never lets his main character suffer mentally in relation to the crime. His only pain seems to be physical sicknes.
Raskolnikov commits a premeditated murder in a state of delirium. He ends up committing a second murder, which he never ever wanted to be responsible for. He kills Lizaveta, an exceedingly innocent person. But does the author ever remind us of the murder at any time in the novel again? Not in the physical sense of the crime itself. The reader doesn’t hear about how heavily the murders are weighing on his heart, or how he is tormented by visions of the crime. He doesn’t feel the least bit guilty about having committed the crime, only his pride’s hurt. He doesn’t mention the idea of the pain that might arise from recurrent visions of the crime. Raskolnikov never again recalls the massive amounts of blood everywhere, the look on Lizaveta’s face when he brings down the axe on her head. These things clearly show that the crime isn’t what might cause him suffering, or pain, it is something else.
After Raskolnikov is sent off to Siberia, he doesn’t feel remorseful. His feelings haven’t changed about his crime, he feels bad at not being able to living up to his own ideas of greatness. He grows depressed only when he learns of his mother’s death. Raskolnikov still hasn’t found any reason to feel remorse for his crimes. He takes Siberia as his punishment, because of how annoying it is to go through all these formalities, and ridicularities that it entails. Yet, he actually feels more comfortable in Siberia than in his home in St. Petersburg. It’s more comfortable, and has better living conditions than his own home. But he isn’t free to do whatever he likes. But this does not contradict what I’ve said before. He doesn’t view Siberia as suffering, but he does view it as punishment, because he would rather not have to go through seven years in his prison cell. His theory of the extraordinary, and the ordinary is something he has to follow and adhere to .