In Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov, a young Russian scholar, murders two elderly pawnbroker in hopes of proving his Extraordinary Man theory which implies that the extraordinary can overstep the law of inferior or ordinary men.
Following Raskolnikov’s murder, he immediately begins to undergo severe illness and emotional anguish as he tackles difficulties with police and family during his progressive steps. The concept of the need for suffering is used throughout the novel in order to represent the books theme: great suffering can lead to atonement for one’s sins.Characters in Crime and Punishment such as Sonya, Svidrigailov, Dunya, and Katerina undergo much pain and suffering, which therefore binds the concept of suffering to the theme, and provides a solid unifying element throughout the book. Before Raskolnikov’s confession, he seeks out “comfort” through Sonya as he is practically going insane, being the only one with knowledge of his murders.
As he begins to open up to Sonya he then gives her advice, “Break what must be broken, once for all, that’s all, and take the suffering on oneself. Freedom and power, and above all, power! Over all trembling creation and all the ant-heap!…
That’s the goal, remember that! That’s my farewell message”(Dostoevsky,xx). Raskolnikov begins to bind his suffering with happiness when he mentions “Freedom and Power”. Although this occurs he immediately starts to back up his “Extraordinary man” theory by saying ” that’s the goal..
.thats my farewell message”. Clearly, Raskolnikov’s is aware of the consequences that are soon to come, which then assists his attempt in salvation from his suffering. Though many readers often conceive Raskolnikov’s suffering as having a direct relationship with his guilt over his crime, the actual controlling idea behind his punishment is an indirect result of his dual personality and his obsession to prove his theory. Raskolnikov’s love for Sonya gradually escalates throughout the story, yet it does so in accordance with his suffering .
After Katerina Ivanovna begins to go rampant on the street, Raskolnikov goes straight to where Sonya lived, he then commences in taunting Sonya about all her families suffering, including her mother’s soon to be death and how her youngest sister will be forced to go into prostitution just like her. Shortly following this interaction Raskolnikov then bows down and kisses Sonia’s feet he then states, “I did not bow down to you, I bowed down to all the suffering of humanity.” And he shocks Sonya by telling her that he did his sister honor by seating her next to his sister, “not because of your dishonor and your sin but because of your great suffering”. When Raskolnikov bows down to Sonya he states that he is ¨bowing down to all suffering of humanity”Dostoevsky,xx. Raskolnikov bowing down to Sonya and kissing her foot symbolises Raskolnikov’s love for Sonya.
When he tells her he is “bowing down to all suffering of humanity”, he is then portraying the books theme, great suffering leads to atonement for man’s sins. This segment portrays Raskolnikov’s “kind hearted” side which eventually will be the deciding factor for Raskolnikov during the end of the novel.Crime and Punishment is the story of the clash between Raskolnikov’s intellectual ego and his true conscience. He is continually trying to stray away from his conscience but he is unable break from it. Unfortunate events compel Raskolnikov to directly face this conflict and finally decide his future. Dostoevsky uses this battle between his two personalities to explain the complicated conflict deep within Raskolnikov’s character, yet in doing so, reveals his internal message about humankind: that anyone through the acknowledgment of guilt and suffering can be amended of their sins.
Although Raskolnikov commits murder, through his guilt and the love for others around him, he finds salvation.