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Crime And Punishment Essay Sample

Guilt is a force in all that has the ability to bring people to insanity. When guilt becomes great enough, the effects it has on people go much deeper than the surface. People’s minds and body’s are overpowered by the guilt that consumes them every second they live with their burden. The devastating effects of guilt are portrayed vividly in Dostoevsky’s fictional but all to real novel Crime and Punishment. In the story, the main character Raskolnikov commits a murder and suffers with the guilt throughout. Eventually his own guilt destroys himself and he is forced to confess. Through Raskolnikov, Dostoevsky bestows on the reader how guilt destroys Raskolnikov’s physical and mental well being, which, in time, leads to complete alienation from society.

When one suffers with a great deal of guilt, their physical health quickly deteriorates. Raskolnikov’s physical suffering begins shortly after the murder with delusions and nonsense ravings while constantly drifting in and out of reality. He often goes into a state of “not completely unconscious” but is in a “feverish state, sometimes delirious, sometimes half conscious”(98) while blaming it on his previous sickness. Raskolnikov is being destroyed by his guilt. He is unable to physically live in society while he has such a burden constantly looming over him.

When in the police station, Raskolnikov hears talk of the murders and with just a reminder of his crime, he quickly becomes weak. When he “recovered consciousness”(88) the men at the station undoubtedly notice his illness and point out that “he can barely stand upright.”(89) His guilt has driven him to a serious state of sickness. He can no longer function normally or even keep consciousness when he is reminded of his crime. Raskolnikov can no longer function normally because his guilt has destroyed is physical capabilities so drastically.

The mental abilities of a person are stifled when they are suffering with a great deal of guilt. Along with his physical health, Raskolnikov’s mental health quickly deteriorates following the murder. He is in a constant state of mental delirium and has constant ravings that are very irrational. However, Raskolnikov’s true state is shown when Razumihin tells him “You are delirious you know!” and Raskolnikov’s response is a bold “No I am not!”(93) Even though Raskolnikov is in a state of delirium, his problem is so serious because he is totally oblivious to his state and completely denies it when wise, rational men tell him that he is. Raskolnikov’s guilt has taken him from a wise, educated, scholar to being incapable of rational thought. As the story progresses, the guilt becomes increasingly heavier on Raskolnikov’s mind.

Others begin to notice this to including Petrovich who describes Raskolnikov as a “moth near a candle” who will keep “circling around [him], circling around [him]” all the time “narrowing the radius more and more, and-whop!”(352) Petrovich is aware of Raskolnikov’s state and he knows that Raskolnikov cannot live with his guilt. He knows like a moth around a candle that it is only a matter of time before the guilt is unbearable and Raskolnikov will have to confess everything. Raskolnikov’s guilt becomes his biggest enemy as it continues to break down his mind and leads him away from normal society.

As Raskolnikov becomes torn apart by his guilt, he begins to separate himself from society which leads to complete alienation from everybody. He becomes a man that is so different from everyone around him that he no longer belongs. With “a sweep of his arm”(96), a drastic realization falls on Raskolnikov as he flings the coin into the water. “It seemed to him, he had cut himself off from everyone and everything at that moment.”(96) Raskolnikov no longer puts value on what his society values the highest. He is terribly poor and hungry, but throws twenty cockpeckcs into the river and thus destroying any ties he still had with society. Because of his alienation, Raskolnikov is no longer able to express his feelings and emotions with anybody. When Raskolnikov claims of hearing things, Natasha tells him that “it’s the blood crying in [his] ears.”(96)

Unknowingly, she realizes his disconnection from society as she tells him “when there is no outlet for it and it gets clotted, [he] begins fancying things.”(96) The blood in his ears is a metaphor for his alienation and how when there is no outlet, meaning he has no one to talk to, it clots and he imagines things, which is his state of delirium. As Raskolnikov becomes detached from society, he begins to make his own world in his head where his ideals are his deciding factors. He even has reason for murder. He convinces himself that “it wasn’t a human being [he] killed” but rather he believes “it was a principle!”(223)

Raskolnikov believes he has become the world’s superman and truly done a good deed by riding the world of an “illness”(223) to society. By this point, Raskolnikov has no ties to society as he has created his own value system and believes he has a license to kill. Raskolnikov’s guilt changes him such that he breaks away from society, which snowballs into him being completely alienated with no one who thinks on an equal level.

Guilt is the main factor that drives Raskolnikov to insanity which leads to his alienation. Guilt attacks his physical heath making him drift in and out of consciousness, which makes him no longer function normally in society. During this, his mind is being consistently deteriorated by the guilt causing irrational thought. Raskolnikov eventually becomes alienated from society as he no longer thinks or acts like the people around him. Raskolnikov does not improve until he confesses and takes the consequences does he return to normal. Through Raskolnikov, Dostoevsky brilliantly shows the power that guilt truly has on a person.

In times of need, people resort to madness. This is shown in the novel Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. The characters, who live in extreme poverty, resort to madness. Set in St. Petersburg, this novel deals with the impact of utilitarianism, that drives the main character Raskolnikov, to commit murder, and from his overpowering guilt and paranoia. In addition, Katerina Ivanovna, the wife of Marmeladov, and a mother of three, must cope with an alcoholic husband and,
and lack of money to buy basic necessities, which make her mad, from suffering and the undeniable poverty she experiences. The madness, reflected through the characters of Raskolnikov and Katerina, the wife of Marmeladov, show the extreme suffering of the characters, and show Dostoevsky’s view of the corruption Society in ST. Petersburg

Raskolnikov’s madness is based on mental suffering. The guilt that torments him after he murders Alyona Ivanovna and Lizaveta cause this suffering. Raskolnikov can be called a nihilist, because he rejects both the law, and the moral principles that come along after killing someone. When he kills Alyona and believing its for the greater good, he has just rejected society’s traditional laws of morality and law. Clearly he has gone mad because killing a bank teller is not for the greater good. He spends a lot of time thinking which puts emphasis on the fact that the murder is constantly on his mind. He rarely showers or has clean cloths, and he lives in a depressing apartment. Raskolnikov spends his time alone suffering and doesn’t even shower. He walks the streets at odd hours wearing an ‘old student’s overcoat and mumbling loudly.In beginning of the book, Raskolnikov is a student who has just published a paper, but as the book goes on, he slowly isolates himself. Dostoevsky in order to show that Raskolnikov is mad gives him duel personalities. These two personalities are best represented as his cold, intellectual, dedicated side that emphasizes power and self-will, and his warm, humane, companionate side. The intellectual side is a result of his deliberate and premeditated actions. This is the side that comes out while he kills the banker, and when he thinks that his action was for the greater good. In addition he believes that he is part of an elite ‘superman’ echelon and consequently accepts the moral standards for higher purposes such as utilitarian good. When he is functioning on this side every action is premeditated. It is this aspect of his personality that enables him to come up with his theories on crime, and to commit his crime. On the other hand, his warm, humane compassionate side causes his isolation and madness. The guilt that torments him after he murders Alyona Ivanovna and Lizaveta, and his recurring faintness at the mention of the murders serve as proof that he is not as he thinks he is.

In addition, Katerina Ivanovna, is also troubled but not as much as Raskolnikov. She was born into an aristocratic family, but ironically ended up becoming the wife of a drunkard, and a mother of three children. Thee reason for this drastic change was because she had a bad test in men. You can see Katerina’s frustration with her poor situation by some of the things she says. ‘She (Katerina Ivanovna Marmeladov) was ‘terribly wasted, a Farley tall, slender, shapely woman, with still beautiful dark-brown hair and cheeks flushed with hectic red.” She was walking up and down the little room with her hands pressed to her Brest. Her lips looked parched and her breathing was harsh and uneven. Her eyes had a feverish glitter, but their gaze was hard and fixed.’ (p.22) When Dostoevsky first introduces Katerina she seems ‘agitated and angry ‘ her eyes had a ‘feverish glitter.’ ‘She must have been beautiful once because of her aristocratic background. Due to her ‘hard and fixed glare, se still seems to have a sense of dominance. ‘ she threw herself forward and began to ransack his pockets.'[ [‘] ‘where is the money then’? she cried. (p.23) She only searches for money. She became a scavenger because she has no money. The fact that she only searches for money shows that she only wanted to support her kids. ”You wouldn’t believe, Polenka, you can’t imagine,’ she said as she walked about the room, ‘how happily and in what luxury we lived at home with my papa, and now that drunkard has destroyed me, and he will destroy all of you too!’ […]” (p. 171) Here Katerina is angry about how Marmeladov ruined her life.??Unlike Raskolnikov, Katerina talks to people. Polenka is her daughter, and she is talking to her because she feels like she cannot deal with the pressure of taking care of her kids all by herself. Even though her and her family were poor, she tried to take carafe thing like cleaning. ‘Katerina could not tolerate dirt’ (p. 173). In the book, there are many emotions, and different interactions between characters. Katerina hated her husband because he took away her luxurious lifestyle, and turned her into a housewife with no money to support her kids. ‘Katerina Ivanovna’s look was stern and sad, and tears were flowing from her eyes.’ (p. 175) This scene is right before Marmeladov dies, and it is the only time that Katerina shows sympathetic feelings towards her husband, instead of complaining about and yelling at him. Unlike Raskolnikov , who had to struggle with the murder of two people, Katerina was mad because she had to deal with her drunkard husband, but at the same time take care of her self and her kids.

In conclusion, one can see that madness is a big part Dostoevsky’s book. The aftermath of Raskolnikov’s crime and the suffering that Katerina goes through are crucial parts of the novel. Through the display of Raskolnikov and Katherina’s qualities, it can be seen that madness is a big part of the book. The reader can see the moral battle that Raskolnikov faces after he commits murder. when looking him, one can see that when he is fist introduced he does not sound like a killer, but when Dostoevsky gives Raskolnikov two personalities, it shows the reader that he does not have an identity, which adds to the madness which he experiences. When looking at Katerina Ivanovna,, one can see that the nihilistic state of St. Petersburg affected even the most non deserving people. Katerina Ivanovna unlike Raskolnikov does not bring madness upon herself. She actually works and trys to improve her situation, unlike Raskolnikov who just walks around while depressed

Reflection
In the book Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky. gives the reader a first hand look into the Nihilistic world of St. Petersburg. in this book we see that the moral battle that Raskolnikov faces after he commits murder. when looking him, one can see that when he is fist introduced he does not sound like a killer, but when Dostoevsky gives Raskolnikov two personalities, it shows the reader that he does not have an identity, which adds to the madness which he experiences. When looking at Katerina Ivanovna,, one can see that the nihilistic state of St. Petersburg affected even the most non deserving people. Katerina Ivanovna unlike Raskolnikov does not bring madness upon herself. She actually works and trys to improve her situation, unlike Raskolnikov who just walks around while depressed.