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Crime and Punishment Essay Sample

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Crime and Punishment Essay Sample

In Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, the main character, Raskolnikov, develops throughout the novel and ultimately becomes a dynamic character. Raskolnikov first seems as an individual who struggles with conforming to society and believes in his superiority. As he comes back to reality and realizes his human identity, Raskolnikov’s thought process becomes complex. His personality and ideas alter from beginning to end due to influences such as Svidrigailov, Sonya, and his essentially good conscience. Raskolnikov experiences a revelation with his values and thinking changing completely. In the beginning of Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov is portrayed bluntly as one who feels superior to society and shows pride, but as he comes to terms with reality throughout the book, he develops as a dynamic character, changing from self-centered values to ordinary values such as family and religion.

When Dostoevsky first introduces the reader to Raskolnikov, Raskolnikov believes he displays no flaws especially in his ability to rationally think. He perceives himself as superior to the human race and holds an interesting disgust for them which is conveyed through his distaste for human interaction. Raskolnikov obsesses his mind with the idea of getting rid of the pawnbroker for the betterment of the poverty-rich society, which he believes depends on him. His mind is completely consumed with the plot for the crime. He talks himself into proceeding with the misdeed by convincing himself that society would diminish without it. After the murders, he still only thinks about himself. The main dilemma compiles of his need to remain innocent and to make himself enjoy the murders. While not so concerned about the punishment that comes with being caught, Raskolnikov does not want to face the chance that he belongs at the low level of a human criminal. As he begins to realize he killed not an idea but rather a person, Raskolnikov begins his transformation after talking talks with characters like Svidrigailov and Sonya.

With his lack of human interaction, one could infer that part of his moral realizations spark because he talks with Svidrigailov and Sonya. Raskolnikov never found himself caring about his sister and saw her only as a source of money and someone who praised him until the possible marriage with Luhzin and the advances made by Svidrigailov. Readers see irony in the fact that Raskolnikov sees Luhzin as only wanting Dounia for his own benefit, while Raskolnikov used her in the same way. Luhzin poses a threat to Raskolnikov in a sense, which is why Raskolnikov wants to get rid of him. Svidrigailov, on the other hand, impacts the emotional nature in Raskolnikov. The first time Raskolnikov shows a hint of emotion and care for his sister is when Svidrigailov comes to Raskolnikov and tells him about his life and interest in Dounia.

Raskolnikov hesitates in regards to letting Dounia interact with Svidrigailov due to his past including rape, murder, and sadist tendencies. Something Raskolnikov did not possess in the beginning of the novel presents itself after conversations with Svidrigailov: a conscience. Raskolnikov’s ability to recognize Svidrigailov’s corruption shows improvement in his rational thinking concerning morality. It also suggests his protective and caring nature over Dounia, emotions not present in the beginning of the novel. Sonya signifies the religious change in Raskolnikov. Raskolnikov almost holds Sonya on a higher level since he goes to her for guidance. Sonya ultimately convinces Raskolnikov to confess, and she is the first true relationship and interaction Raskolnikov pursues with another human. Through her influence and power over him, Raskolnikov becomes more religious and less self-centered. As he weeps in Sonya’s arms and bows down to her, Raskolnikov allows another to have power over him, something unheard of in the beginning of the novel. By the end of the book, he allows himself to open up to Sonya in the form of a natural, human relationship and looks for guidance in the bible, both of which never make an appearance in the beginning for obvious reasons such as his self-centered nature.

The novel develops Raskolnikov as a dynamic character by changing him from a self-centered loner to a family-oriented, religious character. While he struggles with the possibility that he is as human as the rest of humanity, he ultimately benefits from owning up to his imperfections. By the end of the novel, Raskolnikov’s main value is his family, especially Sonya, and his religious relationship with God. Dostoevsky downplays elements he dislikes by having Raskolnikov’s original characteristics fail and then having him find a new, promising beginning with things Dostoevsky believes people value in their own life. Having relationships, religion, and morality in life represents a more fruitful and less conflicted living, something Dostoevsky believes all humans strive to possess.

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