Analysis of Crime and Punishment

Why the novel Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky should be considered a classic.

The idea that human morals should be sacrificed for the ‘greater good of humanity’ is a very interesting idea. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky should be considered a classic because Raskolnikov’s character and his illness stands out in the story, Porfiry the policeman’s psychology about the aspect of the criminal mind is intriguing, as is his character, and the theme of ‘crime for the greater good of humanity’ is the biggest reason this book is a classic, for it is very interesting to ponder.

Raskolnikov’s character and his illness are interesting, as it is very unexpected. He often talks to himself, and then questions his own identity. He says, “I shall go to him… on the next day after It, when It will be over” (page 43.) He capitalized the I, which does two things. It creates suspense, and it makes him seem insane. Afterwards, he stops and then, “He left the seat, and went off almost at a run; he meant to turn back, homewards, but the thought of going home suddenly filled him with intense loathing; in that hole” (Page 43). The things he does are very unexpected. In the very beginning, on Page 1, his personality is shown well. “And each time he passed, the young man had a sick, frightened feeling, which made him scowl and feel ashamed.” (Page 1.) Raskolnikov is scared of human interaction. Later on, as he is walking home, he does something else interesting. “he knew indeed how many steps it was from the gate of his lodging house: exactly seven hundred and thirty. He had counted them once when he had been lost in dreams.” (Page 3.) Similar instances occur with him, his odd little quirks are very interesting. Later on it the story, after the murder, he is pondering why he feels the need to tell Sonia. “He did not yet know why it must be so, he only felt it, and the agonizing sense of his impotence before the inevitable almost crushed him.” (Page 330.) He feels that telling Sonia must happen. Throughout the story, he shows a pure heart, even as he strikes down Lizaveta and the pawnbroker.  It is interesting how someone would give his last penny to a hopeless widow, would strike down an innocent woman. Raskolnikov is one of the most interesting characters in literature, for his ideas, his illness, and his oddness.

As well, Porfiry’s psychology about the criminal mind is very profound. When he is chatting with Raskolnikov about his idea, he states, “They begin executing other people?” (Page 213.) He begins his suspicion of Raskolnikov in this conversation. Later on, he says, “Your attitude to crime is pretty clear to me now” (Page 214.)  He begins to add little snippets such as these two, which shows his suspicion. The later conversation he has, when he finally accuses Raskolnikov of the murder, starts off him assuring Raskolnikov that he enjoys his company, and only wishes to be front with him and be friends. “ ‘I’ve come to have it out with you, Rodion Romanovitch, my dear fellow! I owe you an explanation and must give it to you,’ he continued with a slight smile, just patting Raskolnikov’s knee.” (Page 367.)  Porfiry first tells Raskolnikov that he believes he is innocent. “The thought that Porfiry believed him to be innocent began to make him feel uneasy.” (Page 369.) He was so used to Porfiry accusing him of being guilty of the murder, when Nikolay finally confessed, Raskolnikov began to feel uneasy. Porfiry’s trickery, by ‘accusing’ him of innocence and then at the very end after explaining how Nikolay was clearly not the murderer because he felt that there was no reason for it, throws this at Raskolnikov, “Why you, Rodion Romanovitch! You are the murderer,” (page 373.) He states that Nikolay does not have the mind for it, but rather the this murder was the work of an ill man, who was killing for a theory, as he did not even rob the old woman. Porfiry was suspicious of Raskolnikov even after Nikolay had confessed, because he felt that Nikolay would have killed the pawnbroker differently. After he found a single grain of evidence, and the way Raskolnikv reacted after their conversation, he was 100% sure, and this he states.

The defining aspect of this book is the theme of ‘crime for the greater good of humanity.’ Raskolnikov believes that, “if the discoveries of Kepler and Newton could not have been made known except by sacrificing the lives of one, a dozen, a hundred, or more men, Newton would have had the right, would indeed have been duty bound… to eliminate the dozen or the hundred men for the sake of making his discoveries known to the whole of humanity.” (page 211) Since he notices that every great leader in history has had to make sacrifices and commit crimes. He believes that they should have different laws for them, and should be punished if they do not commit these ‘crimes.’ It is the essence of the book, and is something to ponder. Raskolnikov wants to become one of these men. “I wanted to become a Napolean, that is why I killed her.” (Page 337) His theory however, does make sense. Sometimes. What he felt was ok, killing the pawnbroker, was not. Except he did it for his family. “All of their hopes were centered on me,” (Page 339.) His family relied on him to get a job, but he needed money to get through university. But alas, he was not just in his cause.

Concluding, Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky should be considered a classic because Raskolnikov’s character and judgment are very interesting, Porfiry’s aspect and infusing guilt was effective, and the theme was very strong and very prevalent.

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