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Where does one begin? Is the novel a search for motive? What drives Raskolnikov? Is it simple arithmetic-kill the old lady and use the money for good?  How close is this to a perfect crime? How does the killing of Lizaveta complicate the moral issue? Does Raskolnikov care too much for others to be a real man of decisive action? What is the meaning of dreams in real life and in literature?   Answer any of mine or raise your own and answer it.

18 Responses to “Crime and Punishment”

  1. Russell Jacobs says:

    As has been pointed out above, Raskolnikov’s relationship with reality seems inconsistent—or, if not quite “inconsistent” then complex. There’s an apparent, almost contradictory, dual nature to it. On the one hand he’s “hyperconscious,” to use a borrowed phrase. His perceptive ability is notably acute (as seen in his identification of the man following the helpless drunk girl in the street, his ability to determine complex aspects of Dunya’s relationship with Luzhin by reading his mother’s letter, and his immediate identification of Porfiry’s attempt to trick him into talking about the painters) and yet, as Vanda noted above, he’s not quite part of a real human community. He is nearly friendless, removed from his family, deplored by his landlady. His perceptiveness is, perhaps, all the more fascinating when we realize how distant Raskolnikov is from the people around him. There’s a “judge not” thing going on in C&P, which may be the most basic message Dostoyevsky is trying to convey here (with Sonya as its exemplar) and Raskolnikov is incredibly judgmental. His keen ability to identify the faults of others is matched only by his inability to recognize their laudatory qualities (and his own shortcomings). His logical fallacy is in his most basic premise: the presumed despicableness of Alyona and his measurement of his own “greatness.” In a world in which she were truly despicable and he were truly great, then maybe his murder would be the perfect crime but this isn’t the case. Everyone can be redeemed. The reason that Raskolnikov’s perspective is so fundamental to the novel is that we get to see this tenet in action; we see the redemptive qualities of an axe murderer, his ability to care about others and empathize. Presumably, another story could be told from Alyona’s perspective or, perhaps, even Luzhin’s, in which we’d be able to forgive them. The imperfection of Raskolnikov’s crime is conveyed quite clearly, I believe, in the text: he has no right to do god’s work and his efforts, as a consequence, will be met with unpleasant complications.

  2. Katherine Burdine says:

    Raskolnikov’s motives to murder are quite complex. Originally, he seems to have decided to kill the old woman for her money. But he gives the lie to this motivation by never using any of the valuable objects he took from her apartment; in fact he gets rid of them as soon as possible. No, Raskolnikov kills her for a stranger and more subtle reason. Gain does probably play a small role, as does spite. But in the end, Raskolnikov commits his murder because he wants to be an extraordinary man. To him, an extraordinary man must be able to cross thresholds and boundaries, to do with impunity deeds that others can’t. The crime is the extraordinary deed that Raskolnikov chooses to make trial of himself and gauge wether or not he really is extraordinary.

    Was it a perfect crime? Surely not. The presence and accidental second murder of Lizaveta threw a large wrench into the proceedings, as did the presence of the men on the stairs. The murder was not quick and clean, but brutal and messy; a blood sacrifice not unlike the murder of the mare in Raskolnikov’s first dream.

    A word about that dream. To a degree, that short sequence early in the novel seems to capture the arc of the entire story. A young Raskolnikov walking down a road accompanied by his father (a metaphor perhaps for God, or a heavenly father) passes the tavern, a place of fleshy things (drinking, women) as well as thoughtless cruelty (the killing of the horse). However the road winds on through a cemetery, and in the cemetery the chapel rises above everything, representing the death that is the fate of everyone, but also indicating Dostoevsky’s hope and belief that people can find salvation through religious belief. Sounds a lot like what actually happens in Crime and Punishment.

  3. Margaret Fulford says:

    Juan’s comment made me think a little differently about the symbolism and possible religious significance of various characters and actions in the book. The first thing that came to mind was that Raskolnikov was a sort of Prometheus, at least in his premeditations of the murder (of course the reality turned out to be quite different.) He could redistribute Alyona’s wealth to those who needed it most, defying authorities and the Authority in one fell swoop. He justified his crime by truly believing it, in that instant, to be for the greater good of society. Of course, he himself is included in this “society,” but I honestly don’t think that personal gain was a factor in his decision, except perhaps as the initial impetus — as we see even more clearly, later in the novel. I do think that had he not been in such a dire financial situation, he probably would not have thought of committing the murder, but once the idea was in his head, he came up with a thousand and one more selfless reasons to go ahead with the plan. Over the course of the novel, he comes to truly believe these reasons (ridding society of a “louse,” testing to see if he was one of his extraordinary people, like Napoleon, etc.)
    Knowing Dostoevsky to be a religious person changes the reader’s perspective on the novel. Is this a retelling of the redemption story? Let’s say that Sonya’s position in society places her in the shoes of Mary Magdalene, based on the popular idea that she was a prostitute (whether or not this is true.) Is Raskolnikov then a Jesus figure in the story, in some ways? He commits a murder with good intentions, thereby ridding others of the need to kill Alyona. He alone bears the weight of sin on his chest for the entire novel. He performs various good deeds throughout the story, helping those in need. It is not a perfect fit, but it bears consideration.

  4. Ben Kingstone says:

    It may seem simple to say that Raskolnikov is a character searching for agency. But his rationalization to murder Avdotya becomes a way of expressing his power. Because Dostoevsky provides very few descriptions of the protagonist’s life in recent years, we might assume this story chronologically represents the final progression in Raskolnikov’s paralysis. As Vanda noted, he hadn’t seen his family in three years, is no longer studying, and isn’t employed when we Dostoevsky introduces him. When he approaches Razumikhin for work, “it had taken him only a moment’s trial to realize that he was less inclined than ever to enter into personal relations with anybody on the face of the earth. Gall welled up in him. He felt choked with rage…” (94).
    Raskolnikov’s transgression–the carefully rehearsed plot–takes on a crusade-like quality. As Juan suggested, he wants justice: “Kill her, take her money, on the condition that you dedicate yourself with it help to the service of humanity” (57). This romantic quest to kill someone he feels represents the evils of modern society is important for two reasons. One, it illustrates heroism–the Napoleonism that only great men can achieve. Two, it demonstrates Raskolnikov’s power to overcome the stagnation of insignificance. It attaches him to reality, though it is a harsh reality. Like the Underground Man, he attacks others because it makes him feel powerful when he otherwise has little agency. Paranoia and schismatic paralysis constantly deter him. His acceptance of his guilt and subsequent suffering–to “achieve atonement” (355)– allow him to respond to Sonya. At last, taking up Lizaveta’s cross and pursuing God–another crusade–gives him the power and agenda to live more freely.

  5. Laura Howard says:

    Wow. Wow is all I have to say about this book. I am raising my own question for this blog post, because while I was reading the book, someone came up to me and said, “So, Crime and Punishment! Are you going crazy yet?” Well, yes. The answer is yes. The book did make me go a little bit crazy — and not just because I was trying to read 550 pages in 9 days. The book made me go a little crazy because it was SO psychological. The story truly adheres to Prof. Beyers’ assertion that “Literature was the original psychology.” The book delves so deeply into the mind of its main character that I felt, as a read, as if I were along with him, to start and to see Lizaveta, to look down at the waters of the Neva, to juggle family and friends and love and life. I had never thought about crime before the way that Dostoevsky presents it. The thoughts/feelings/theories presented in the book are so complicated that at times I felt as if I were watching a movie based on mind games — one like Inception, or something of the sort. Where the viewer/reader doesn’t know what is a dream and what is reality. I kept thinking, throughout the book, that someone needs to turn this into a movie! It would make a fantastic movie. Having checked IMDB, I see that many people already have…and now I am eager to see in which ways other artists (movie directors) have interpreted this dark story. While it is true that while I was reading, I was fully engrossed and, as my friend said, “going a little crazy”, luckily, as soon as I closed the book, and realized that I was not in St. Petersburg running away from drunkards and prostitutes and crazy men from the underground – well, then I was able to gain back my sanity.

  6. Vanda Gaidamovic says:

    Deprived of any thick communal ties, separated from his family for almost three years (even the word friend applied to Razumikhin is written in italics in the Russian edition), a monomaniac by nature, Raskolnikov is left for his own reasoning and his own discovery of what is true and acceptable. He struggles between generosity and self-interest, compassion and anger, soulfulness and reason (hence the name: raskol in Russian – schism, split): e.g. after leaving 50 kopecks at Marmeladov’s apartment he immediately regrets this gesture, or after the fruitless attempt to help the intoxicated girl on the street, he becomes mad at himself for even caring. And yet, after the tedious confession of Marmeladov, and the ‘sacrifices’ of his mother and sister, Raskolnikov is utterly disgusted by his own uselessness and hence, decides to perform ‘justice’.
    The storyline fluctuates back and forth between the protagonist’s mind and the material milieu he inhabits. He is either hyperconscious of the outer environment, or retrieves deep into his thoughts that carry him as far as Africa and Egypt, or back to childhood memories. I think what drives Raskolnikov to commit the crime is not mere calculations, but rather the blurring distinction between the two worlds: real and imagined. In his mind everything is possible, whereas reality is just a cluster of limitations (e.g. material hardship). By mixing reality and non-reality he eliminates all the limitations of the external world and believes he gained god-like privilege to decide who has the right to live and who does not. The decline of the actual religious authority and the rise of Western science and philosophy might have ‘inspired’ Raskolnikov. As a student, he must have been exposed to the concepts of rationalism and utilitarianism, and thus the allegation “One death and a hundred lives in exchange” could seem not only plausible, but also appealing to him. Moreover, Raskolnikov’s theory of superiority of some individuals over the others echoes elitists J.S. Mill’s ideas from ‘On Liberty’.

  7. Anna Mackey says:

    Does Raskolnikov care too much for others to be a real man of decisive action?

    Differing from the stories we have read in the past, I believe that at this point in the book Raskolnikov provides the reader with enough to judge him by a man of action (not inaction), while his mental responses to these actions deepen our interpretation of his character. Before the murders, the reader constantly sees Rasholnikov act in generous ways. First, he leaves a few coppers for Marmeladov’s family, then he gives the policeman money to help the drunk girl, yet after the deed is done, he always realizes he’s done a good thing, changes his mind, and wishes to take it back. He, “anxiously trie[s] to find some sinister meaning for himself in this seemingly quite ordinary act.” (52) Raskolnikov’s immediate actions and tendencies tell the reader that by nature he is a caring a decent man; his subsequent reflections bring this into question, but he never does end up attempting to take back the money, so once again his actions speak louder than words. However, when Raskolnikov acts not on impulse and instead in a premeditated manner, that is when the problems arise. After planning and preparation, Raskolnikov murders Avdotya, which is undoubtedly a crime and undoubtedly “wrong”, although he is still able to justify it to himself. However this murder is not the real problem. This murder causes another – the murder of Lizaveta, which is done by Raskolnikov out of impulse. This is the first natural and impulsive action of Raskolnikov’s which is neither caring nor decent, and that is why it causes Raskolnikov, and the reader, so much pain. Here we see his cruel, premeditated plans conquer his natural tendencies for good, and knowing this drives him crazy. Because of this reaction after the act of murder, I do now think Raskolnikov could perhaps care too much for others to be a real man of decisive action ever again, although to me, this is not a fault.

  8. Flora Weeks says:

    How close is this to a perfect crime?

    Before committing this crime, Raskolnikov had studied criminal thought, and the patterns by which criminals are often caught; “At first—even long before—he had been occupied with one question: why almost all crimes are so easily detected and solved, and why almost all criminals leave such an abvioulsy marked trail” (70). In answer to this question, Raskolnikov decides that it is due to the absence of reason and rational thought in the criminals during the act of the crime. Raskolnikov calls this the “disease,” and is sure that he will avoid this downfall when committing his own crime. In this sense, I would say that he is largely successful in committing a “perfect crime.” Raskolnikov remains fairly level headed during the murder and robbery, even when Lizaveta appears and when finding a way to escape from the apartment.

    However, his biggest mistake, and one many criminals seem to make, lies in his proximity to Alyona and her riches. It is because he had been a customer of hers, had recently visited her apartment, and lived nearby that he can be suspected in the crime. Whether he kept a level head during the crime or not, whether or not he was able to escape without a trace of his having been there, because a link can be made between Raskolnikov and Alyona, he will eventually be questioned. In addition, because he lives in a society where this murder continues to be talked about, he is continuously reminded of what he has done, which makes it much more difficult for him to act innocent.

  9. Emily de Koning says:

    I agree with Melody that to some extent it seems as though Raskolnikov is guided towards committing the murder by fate “as if someone had taken him by the hand and pulled him along irresistibly, blindly with unnatural force, without objection.” However I believe that the reason why Raskolnikov lets fate drag him along is because it parallels his own desires. This is the clearest is the scene where Raskolnikov overhears the conversation between the student and the officer, where the student declares his thoughts on murdering the old Alyona Ivanovna, “…exactly the same thoughts had just been conceived in is own head?” But perhaps he is less noble than the student in his intentions. After leaning of his sister’s marriage Raskolnikov is convinced that she only married for his sake “she wouldn’t sell herself; no, she’s selling herself for someone else! […] for her brother, for her mother, she will sell herself!” He convinces himself that his whole life, and that of his family, can be saved with not by earning a living a kopeck at a time, but with “a whole fortune at once”.
    Raskolnikov plays an important part in the unfolding of his on fate, such as memorizing the layout of the rooms or designing a handle to hold the axe steadily under his jacket. He simply uses what fate has given him to fulfill his own desirers.

  10. Alexandra Siega says:

    Does Raskolnikov care too much for others to be a real man of decisive action?

    I just can’t wrap my mind around this question: it challenges all of my initial readings of the text! It is interesting to think about Raskolnikov as a “caring” person, for I had certainly pinned him as the opposite: a rather insecure, introverted individual. I definitely see how one could arrive at the conclusion that Raskolnikov is a caring person, for during Parts I and II he exhibits many qualities of such a character. After Lizaveta’s murder, he almost succumbs to the wave of self-loathing for the crime that he committed towards the innocent girl, which would seem to indicate that Raskolnikov does have a sense of morality that influences his actions. The charity he displays towards Katerina after her husband’s death also suggests that he is a caring person, because he helps out a stranger’s family in the greatest way that he possibly can.

    However, his motives for the actions question the caring aspect to his nature. Is his response to his second murder solely a result of the sudden breach of morality, or is it also (and perhaps more so) his reaction to the extreme deviation from his original plan? On page 79, the narrator says about Raskolnikov: “Fear was taking hold of him more and more, especially after this second, quite unexpected murder.” (79) The hurried, fearful nature of the following narration suggests to me that Raskolnikov was panicking because he had no further predetermined plan, and that the awful murder threw a wrench in all that he strove to achieve in his plan: what he viewed as the just murder of Alyona.

    The muddled nature of the motive for his caring actions continues in Part II. Why does Raskolnikov give all of his rubles to Katerina? His words to the despondent widow during the action imply that he truly cares about the wellbeing of the suffering family, yet it is unclear of how he meant these words; his speech to Katerina exhibited an admirable and incredible selflessness that he doesn’t seem capable of before this event. The reader is left to question Raskolnikov’s sanity, for while the act of charity was charitable, it was also completely detrimental to himself and disrespectful towards his mother and sister, who worked hard to earn the funds. In addition, we are already conscious of Raskolnikov’s descent into madness, demonstrated in his period of sickness following the murder. Is Raskolnikov only capable of caring when he is teetering on the brink of madness? If so, does that make him a genuinely caring person, or a person that is more susceptible to his moral code when his usual defenses (various character traits that allow him to be removed from the general flow of society) are down?

    The issue of Raskolnikov’s decisiveness is a whole other point of discussion, but I will leave that be for now…

  11. Melody Wang says:

    What drives Raskolnikov?
    Raskolnikov wants to believe himself to be free, but at the same time he is subject to the force of predetermination. For example, when Raskolnikov is about to murder the Alyona, he repeatedly feels that “he was no reasoning about anything, and was totally unable to reason; but he suddenly felt with his whole being that he no longer had any freedom either of mind or of will, and that everything had been suddenly and finally decided”(I.5.62). Or for another instance, Raskolnikov feel the “traces of superstition” or presence “of some peculiar influences and coincidences”(I.6.63). In short, it almost seems like he cannot be held responsible by his crime. When Raskolnikov recalls how he has been drawn many times to Haymarket for no particular reason; his crime is not a result of rational will but of just an arbitrary walk. After Raskolnikov decides to abandon his plan for the murder after his nightmare dream of a mare being savagely beaten by a group of ruthless peasant; instead of heading home, he randomly wanders in the Haymarket, where he learns an opportune chance to commit the crime.
    What is the meaning of dreams in real life and in literature?
    And in the brief description about the vividness and lifelike qualities of dream, the narrator asserts that “the resulting picture [of a dream] happen to be so probable, and with details so subtle, unexpected, yet artistically consistent with the the whole fullness of picture, that even the dream himself would be unable to invent them in reality,”(I.5.53). I believe one of the most prominent results or psychological consequences that Raskolnikov suffers from after his crime is the blurred states between his dream-states and wake-states.

  12. Bryanna Kleber says:

    Raskolnikov’s original murder plan was thoroughly premeditated. That’s not to say that he was perfectly fine with it. The thought of it and the playing out of it in his head disgusted him and made him sick. He had, however, not thrown out the idea of his plot. Which is to say, that he had, in some sense, accepted his murder plot. He, of course, justified it. It would be better for society to have Avdotya dead. She was a horrible woman and was not fair and Raskolnikov knew that from the instant he met her. She treated her sister horribly and her wealth should be distributed to others. It was by the conversation of two other men that made Raskolnikov believe it to be his duty to kill the old woman, and little signs along the way confirmed this to him.
    The plot then became something Raskolnikov believed he was predestined to do. So the murder became inevitable in his mind and he was able to rationalize it. He even planned around when he would commit the crime—he would not visit Razumikhin until he had killed Avdotya. Raskolnikov believed that his murder would be beneficial not only for himself, but for many other people as well. I think in his pre-planning, the only thing that disgusted him was the grotesque nature of murder, not the repercussions.
    Lizaveta’s murder was not premeditated and is the main cause of his illness and guilty conscience. Lizaveta’s murder would not better anybody and was not an act that Raskolnikov felt he was meant to commit, thus he finds a hard time taking the blame for this crime. He is constantly blocking Lizaveta’s murder out of his mind, and only taking into consideration Avdotya’s, “My life hasn’t died with the old crone!” (188) There is no mention of Lizaveta’s murder… he is so sick by the thought of this murder’s repercussions (not only the grotesque nature).
    Without Lizaveta’s murder, I think Raskolnikov would be in decent health and would not be having his dreams. Raskolnikov is not fazed by death as witness by the attempted suicide, “Raskolnikov looked upon it all with a strange feeling of indifference and detachment.” (170) It is the fact that Lizaveta was innocent and a decent being that is making this murder a moral issue.
    This murder, for Raskolnikov, it completely flawed. It has sparked some guilty conscience action that can’t be rationalized and it not what he plotted.

  13. Rouan Yao says:

    Whatever Raskolnikov’s motive was, it certainly can’t be described as simple arithmetic. Yes, it is true that Raskolnikov had heard people discuss the benefits of the pawnbroker’s hypothetical murder. However, it is not that which brings Raskolnikov to kill her; rather, it was only one of the many spurs which pushed him to finally decide on the deed. We find out in this first section of the novel that Raskolnikov hated Avdotya before the incident described.

    As he walks around town in contemplation of his future crime, we note that he is more repulsed by the physical deed of murdering somebody than the moral issues that would come with it. When he overhears Lizaveta say that she will be away from the house the next day at seven, he immediately feels compelled to do the deed, reasoning that now, he had no more control of “all liberty of action and free will”. Similarly, he feels even more compelled to carry out the fact when he happens to find an ax with which to kill the old lady.

    These reasons, I would argue, are not reasons at all, but merely Raskolnikov’s own unstable conscience, trying to grasp at anything that would help him carry out the deed. We are first introduced to the character as emotionally unstable, and somewhat an outcast of the society in which he lives. It is obvious that he does have a choice in committing the murder; however, it dawns upon him every time that he spots a relevant coincidence relating to the planned murder, he sees it as a sign, and finds himself more and more submerged in the idea.

    And lastly, as Brandt has already mentioned, Lizaveta’s death completely dismisses his flimsy justification. Had he truly done this with a calculating, arithmetic eye, he would not have killed the young woman. Instead, Raskolnikov, shaken in his own instability to and feverishness, kills Lizaveta as well. In short, I believe these actions point to a motive that goes far beyond simple calculations, don’t you?

  14. Juan Machado says:

    Raskolnikov murder of Avdotya and Lizaveta is undisputedly criminal, but I would like to analyze his action not only as a transgression of civil law, but as a transgression of God’s law.
    Murder is obviously a sin, but I would argue that in the story, Dostoevsky pushes the sinful angle further. First of all, Avdotya’ money makes her a godlike figure. She can changes people’s lives drastically for the good, by handing out “over five thousand at once” but also making their lives miserable if they don’t repay on time (63).

    Further, Raskolnikov plans to use money he steals to do good. He had heard the student in the tavern talk about how “a hundred, a thousand good deeds and undertakings that could be arranged and set going by the money that old woman has doomed,” the “hundreds maybe thousands of lives put right” (65). Raskolnikov himself dreams of expanding a park for the benefit of the people of Petersburg on his way to Avdotya’s. Thus, if one accepts Avdotya as a godlike figure, Raskolnikov plans to steal that power and take matters into his own hands. To me, this brings to mind the behavior of the people of Babel.

    This reading may seem a bit too imaginative, but I think there’s something to it. Consider, for example, that the money he steals is destined to a monastery, one of God’s outposts on Earth.

  15. Sarah Bellingham says:

    In life, we may look at dreams as our subconscious thoughts being sorted as we sleep. Some may point out that dreams can even indicate psychological trauma or stress. However, there are many times that our dreams seem to us to be entirely random. In great literature, nothing is random. Every phrase and word employed carries meaning for the text and clues for the reader. Therefore, dreams have particular significance in the reality of a novel. Dostoyevsky has us follow the impoverished Raskolnikov, letting us see his desperate actions and hear his frantic thoughts. The dream sequence serves to bring us further into this character’s psyche.

    In Raskolnikov’s horse dream, an innocent mare is beaten to death. The beating is initiated by her drunk, proud, and foolish master. Others soon join in, mocking and beating the defenceless horse. The mare in this dream is most likely supposed to call to mind the innocent women of this novel who are abused by their respective «masters». Lizaveta is essentially enslaved by her evil step-sister, Sonia’s fate has been decided by her father’s selfish and cowardly choices, and Dunia’s actions are determined by what will best help her brother. Marmeladov and Sonia most clearly bring to mind the image of a cruel master beating his mare—his actions have beaten his poor daughter down. As we will learn later, Sonia is a strong Christian. Because of this, she sees her sin of prostitution as damning her and denying her the second life promised to devout Christians. Her father, though indirectly, has undeniably «killed» her in that way. When the young Raskolnikov runs to the dead horse in the dream, it is showing that he fears becoming like Marmeladov. We see this effect his actions in his response to the letter from his mother. Interestingly enough, the mare only seems to represent the women perceived as innocent in the novel and does not extend to all of them. It explains Raskolnikov’s ability to justify the murder of Alyona to himself, and his revulsion at having killed Lizaveta as well.

  16. Brandt Silver-Korn says:

    I love your comparison Romany, but I think “I am a Rock” presents music a little too upbeat and hopeful for our poor Raskolnikov (“I am a Rock” just does not sound sad unless you read the lyrics). But you may be right that the inconsistencies of the music and lyrics match Raskolnikov’s own inconsistencies.

    I think that Lizaveta’s (the story’s own “Poor Liza”) murder is one of the most important aspects of the novel and pervades the entire book. Raskolnikov initially justifies his murder by convincing himself that ridding the world of Avdotya is a heroic action and will somehow validate his self-purported important existence. As the old and evil pawnbroker (a “louse, a cockroach”) Avdotya’s existence is representative of sin (65). However, when Raskolnikov murders Lizaveta without a second thought, his initially heroic action of ridding the world of a sinful existence, turns into the murder of an innocent girl who “worked day and night” and presented no detrimental traits to the world. This fact ceaselessly taunts Raskolnikov as he is never really able to reconcile it. Later in the novel, he calls himself “an aesthetic louse…and nothing more” and guiltily decries his actions towards Lizaveta, stating that he would “kill [Avdotya] again” if given the chance, but “Poor Lizaveta! Why did she have to turn up there (274, 275)!”

    It becomes evident that it is possible for any individual to morally justify murdering a “louse”, but that it is impossible for a learned man to reconcile murdering a being that epitomizes innocence. Even though it is Avdotya’s murder that he often refers to throughout the novel, it is Lizaveta’s murder (which he outwardly questions why he never thinks about, “as if [he] hadn’t killed her”) that subconsciously consumes him (275).

  17. Romany Redman says:

    Rock music was the medium for Simon and Garfunkel’s famous “I am a Rock” ballad of ’66. (To remind you of the lyrics: http://www.lyricsfreak.com/s/simon+and+garfunkel/i+am+a+rock_20124809.html)
    Golden-age really long literary novel was the medium for Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” ballad of ’66. (If C&P happened in winter, “I am a Rock” lyrics would be straight from the book)
    Though separated by a century, these two stories share a common declaration of complete independence and isolation, which is simultaneously broken down by inconsistencies within the works themselves. In the case of Simon and Garfunkel, the song has a sad tone with bittersweet harmonies, lacking the confidence one might expect from a manifesto of individual strength. In Crime and Punishment, we meet inconsistencies in Raskolnikov’s actions, a fluctuation between declaration and denial. For example, in the case of the drunken prostitute, he first displays compassion, then erases that compassion, and later regrets both. This five-minute interaction between the policeman, the girl, the fat man, and himself serves as a microcosm for his interactions with the pawn lady, Razumikhin, Zamyotov, or anyone else, actually.
    While Raskolnikov is still toying out the morality of his actions, he overridden with guilt at both the unanticipated externalities of his actions and that he notices them at all. Guilt drives Raskolnikov. Disgusted by his own poverty and failure to live up to the meager expectations of his sacrificing family, Raskolnikov strives to validate his own existence, leading ultimately to the extreme measure of murder. He needs to create control. Analogously, the rock/island character of Simon and Garfunkel’s song justifies his loneliness by building up his own fortress and feigning autonomous control.

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