The complexity of the human nature and psychology dominates the conceptions, ideals, thoughts and philosophies of life that an individual perceives. The sense of superiority and the sentiment of pride are inclusive to the causal effects of those thoughts and conceptions. One’s pride, aggravated to vanity and conceit, makes his soul susceptible to the commitment of a crime which serves no purpose of vengefulness or service of justice but mere acuities brewed under egoistic delusions.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime And Punishment centralises such submission to vanity and the resultant regret as a theme and enforces a man’s dependence on others as a canon for his survival and the sustainability of the system of the human world as created by the Lord. Every seed that is sown stems into a plant, a beautiful flowery shrub, a curing herb or a poisonous weed and crime bears a poisonous weed, the redemption of which lies not in the dark cells of a prison but in the torment and guilt the doer must dwell in.
A literary psychologist, Fyodor Dostoyevsky is known for his work manifesting the grave social realities, commenting on political enigmas and religious conundrums of his time through the prism of human psychology with the most convincing of literary excellence. Human psychology is bound to be affected by and react to the turn of events and primarily determine the consequences of each instance. Dostoyevsky’s work is based on this very reality; the tormented and tortured psychology of the doer, the suffered, the protagonist. “Crime And Punishment” sets focal on the psychology of narcissist pride, the overwhelming power of passion over reason and the torment of regret which the stifling acceptance of mediocrity can bring to one.
“Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart. The really great men must, I think, have great sadness on earth.”
- Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime And Punishment
The book “Crime And Punishment” is an account of the psychological state of a criminal who commits a sin out of egotism and the delirium to prove himself extraordinary and superior to others, and the culminating suffering in guilt, fear and tribulation. Fyodor Dostoyevsky has narrated a story of a young student who sets out to commit a crime, in his vanity and as an endeavour of proving himself to be another Napoleon, with the objective of proving his superior status as an extraordinary man.
For Dostoyevsky’s protagonist, Raskolnikov, an extraordinary man is free to commit a crime, free not of the law but of his own conscience. To him, a man’s ordeal lied in conquering his own conscience and for this very reason, he theorised that those with a lesser stature were bound by their morals and conscience but those, the superior men, with higher stature could commit a crime and flee the shackles of moral justice of not the law but their own consciousness.
Each of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s characters in “Crime And Punishment” depicted the grave realities of human nature and circumstances that challenge humans in their conventional lives; however, the focal of the story is set in the acts of the main protagonist and the consequences which draw him to disregard his ideals and proves the absolute universality of the invincible human conscience, the voice of morality dubbed as the God’s will. Fyodor Dostoyevsky has written “Crime And Punishment” expounding the viewpoint of the criminal, his protagonist Rodion Raskolinkov who is a former student and resides in a small apartment in the setting created by Fyodor.
Raskolinkov is estranged to the human societies, lives in his delusions of superiority and an exalted individuality. He murders a pawnbroker Alyona Ivanovna and her sister in their apartment with a motive which is not revealed until the very end of the story. His sin forces him into a dark pit of fear, torment and guilt; regret engulfs him as the time ticks over despite the fact that the police, though suspicious of him, has insufficient evidence to convict and prosecute him. His senses dissolve and he faints at multiple times when a mention of the murders he committed is made.
Through the course, from the committing of the two murders and his confession Raskolinkov sees a turn multiple events where he finds himself shunning away the help his friend, sister or mother try to offer to him. His self-proclaimed superiority has been the key factor driving him to isolation and seclusion. The ultimate reason for his crime is rooted in his vanity which he makes a confession of, “I was ambitious to become another Napoleon; that was why I committed a murder.”
To Raskolinkov, becoming Napoleon was not being the conqueror of the world but the conqueror of his own conscience which he deemed as the testimony of his exalted status. The reason for his outrageous act was merely the irrelevance of logic before his passion, the urge to prove his worthiness as an extraordinary, a really great man. Dostoyevsky has masterfully depicted the control a man’s strongest of passions and will to be proven and acclaimed has on his ability to reason. As Dostoyevsky elucidated in this novel, in the most simple of words, “When reason fails, the devil helps.” It is this lust to prove, the wish to be acknowledged, the delusion of superiority which takes good men like Raskolinkov and bends them to evil.
“The man who has a conscience suffers whilst acknowledging his sin. That is his punishment.”
- Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime And Punishment
However, he submitted to his conscience as a mediocre human would and eventually accepted his ordinary stature and broke his wall of isolation as he confessed his love for Sonya in the prologue of the story. Raskolinkov’s redemption is a story of melancholy and grief, the trial which is the fate of every mediocre man who submits to his soul’s liability to committing a sin.
Rodion Raskolinkov’s actual punishment was never his eight years sentence of imprisonment in Siberia with hardship but his acceptance to his mediocre status and love confession to Sonya, an acceptance to his reliance on another human for his survival. As Fyodor writes, “What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love.” Raskolinkov bore the burden of his delusions until he rotted in his secluded abyss, his true punishment was his grief and the confrontation with his conscience. His confession to Sonya set him free and broke the shackles and that is where his punishment ended.
“Crime And Punishment” is Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s commentary on the philosophical complexity of human intellect ant his psychology, the overpowering delusions which a sense of pride can create and the always triumphant standing of human conscience and for this very reason, this book is worth a read. Take advice:
“Don’t be overwise, fling yourself straight into life, without deliberation; don’t be afraid – the flood will bear you to the bank and set you safe on your feet again!”