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The Theme of Duality in Crime and Punishment

The Theme of Duality in Crime and Punishment

In Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, the theme of duality is present throughout much of the novel. There are dual conflicts: one external between a disillusioned individual and his world, and the other internal between an isolated soul and his conscience (Walsh). It is the internal conflict in the main character, Raskolnikov, that is the focuses of much of the novel. The dual personalities of Raskolnikov are constantly at battle with one another, causing the inner conflict he experiences and thus creating his own personal punishment.

The first of Raskolnikov’s two sides is his intellectual side. This side of him is cold, unfeeling, inhumane, and exhibiting extreme self-will and power. This is the side of him that comes up with his theory. The crime was a result of his theory that some people possess extraordinary abilities while others have no ability. It’s this intellectual side of him that caused him to conceive and execute his murder. This half of his personality is part of the reason he lives in the run-down place he does and it’s the reason he has let himself get so far away from his goals. This side gets him into a lot of hard times throughout the novel. His extreme apathy towards everything is this side of his personality.

There is also a completely opposite side of Raskolnikov. This side is the compassionate, kind, humane, pitying, warm side of him. It’s a large part of his conscience and does charitable acts and fights against the evil in his society. This is the side his mother wants to see and he trains himself to only let her only come in contact with this side of himself….

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… Eventually the good side of his personality won him over and he realized he needed help. Killing someone is a crime and would do him no good (Harris). His mind was very much in sync with Raskolnikov, who thought he could better humanity through a justified crime.

The truth is, everyone has a complex personality. No one has a one-sided character. The difference between Raskolnikov and us is the way we choose to act on our instincts. Raskolnikov clearly didn’t know how to handle his intellectual nature and therefore he had to suffer punishment from his own self and the law. Balanced people know how to deal with their emotions and their personalities in a healthy way. Raskolnikov teaches us that whatever man does, must be done in terms of general humanity and for that reason man must learn to master his dual personality.

A Nihilistic Analysis of Crime and Punishment

A Nihilistic Analysis of Crime and Punishment

This paper provides an exhaustive analysis, from a Nihilistic perspective, of the novel, Crime and Punishment. The paper is divided into many sections, each with a self-explanatory title in capital letters, such as the section that immediately follows this sentence.


Katerina Ivanovna must deal with a man who drinks his life away while his family starves. Marmeladov recounts their suffering by first describing his loss of a job. He claims that, “. . .through no fault of mine but through changes in the office [I lost my place], and then I did touch it [alcohol]!” He attempted to educate his daughter, but what little knowledge she has amounts to nothing when she cannot even collect money from Ivan Ivanitch Klopstock, a man she sewed six shirts for. Katerina, fed up with her entire situation, screams at Marmeladov and eventually is driven to introduce her daughter to prostitution. Through the prodding of Darya Frantsovna, Sonia enters her first night of prostitution only to come home and collapse on her bed. Marmeladov recounts his drunken state as he watched Katerina kneel at her daughters bed and kiss her feet. Not only does Sonia’s activity force her to sacrifice her own morals, but she also forced out of her family’s apartment by Mr. Lebeziatnikov. Sonia must then continue her life of prostitution while living at the apartment of the Kapernaumovs’. The Kapernaumovs’ are described as “very poor people, all with cleft palates.” Marmeladov continually dwells on the fact that they all have cleft palates as he describes his daughters. This motif is used by Dostoevsky in order to bring out the theme of Sonia’s own defamatio…

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…murders? Raskolnikov denies these accusations because confessing to them would be a show of submission to Porfiry. Dostoevsky wants Raskolnikov to be viewed as a respectable man who must decide his own path, to be led to confession through his own suffering.

Raskolnikov approaches his confession alone. Upon Reaching the crossroads, “He knelt down in the middle of the square, bowed down to the earth and kissed that filthy earth with bliss and rapture. He got up and bowed a second time.” (Page 453, paragraph 2, line 1). Raskolnikov upon bowing and kissing the dirt feels a wild influx of pleasure, symbolic of religious retribution.

Works Cited

Dostoevsky, Feodor. Crime and Punishment. Trans. Jessie Coulson. Ed. George Gibian. New York: Norton, 1989.

Frank, Joseph. Dostoevsky: The Miraculous Years, 1865-1871. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995.

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