Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky is a striking and sharp analysis/retrospective of one man’s remorse and mental conflict regarding the murder of his pawnbroker. Even though it might seem to only concern itself with the crime committed by the protagonist, the novel seeks to make insightful and arguable opinions regarding the very concept of moral superiority among the human psyche.
Rodion Raskolnikov is a cynical yet intelligent former student who holds a strong belief that those who are “exceptional” within society are not held to the same moral constraints as the rest of the populous, in which people with Napoleonic personalities are given a moral right to be above the law, as they are intersected in more utilitarian goals relating to the idea of “necessary evil” to bring about a higher level of peace and stability. To test his radical theory, Raskolnikov murders his unscrupulous pawnbroker, Alyona Ivanovna, and by lack of foresight, Lizaveta Ivanovna, the pawnbroker’s submissive sister. The rest of the novel is dedicated to gradually expand Raskolnikov’s internal struggle to comprehend the weight of his actions, which leads him on a path of redemption as the police slowly come to realize the truth behind the murders as Raskolnikov’s guilty conscience causes him to undergo a fundamental shift in his beliefs and nihilistic worldview.
Although the novel takes a considerable amount of time to establish the full extent of Raskolnikov’s fractured and remorseful mindset after the murders, it only serves to create an excellent atmosphere of tension and suspense as the police investigations draw closer to their haunting suspicions regarding Raskolnikov. The time spent viewing how Raskolnikov slowly reaches out to others to extend kindness and compassion in spite of his horrendous crime serves to create a sentimental and introspective ending which pays tribute to all the hardships that were exhausted throughout the novel. This novel would be a ⅘, as the initial buildup can be tedious at times, but this is only a minor aspect of the novel which is balanced out with excellent descriptions, compelling characters, and a unique yet critical tone of writing that the author deploys to great extents. This novel would be for mature readers who are interested in intense and captivating character studies regarding the true function and purpose of our conscience and the role it plays in our everyday lives, and how by ignoring our basic and fundamental beliefs on morality in pursuit of any goal in life can prove to be detrimental to society and our own core compunctions.
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