p.p1 criminal mind and became aware of different types

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Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment is both a psychological exploration of reality and a philosophical novel. Its inherent psychological aspects are so effectively detailed because of the time Dostoevsky spent in a Siberian labour camp, where he engaged with the criminal mind and became aware of different types of criminals (Peace). This essay discusses Dostoevsky’s exploration of psychology in the context of Raskol’nikov’s motives for murder; Dostoevsky’s application of Freudian pleasure and reality principles, and his depiction of determinism in psychology. This essay also demonstrates that Crime and Punishment has a philosophical dimension that is inherently linked to its psychological aspects, as Dostoevsky compares determinism with free will, and explores justified crime and the Hegelian “extraordinary man” theory. The essay will conclude that the psychological and philosophical elements of the novel are inseparable. 

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Firstly, Dostoevsky creates a psychological conflict within the protagonist, Raskol’nikov, by splitting his personality into parts and linking his motives to them. If we follow Beebe’s analysis, the novel should be read in triples, with Svidrigailov, Luzhin and Sonia each personifying a different alter ego for Raskol’nikov and thereby representing his three motives for murder (Beebe, 152). He argues that Luzhin embodies Raskol’nikov’s intellectual side, Svidrigailov – sensuality, and Sonia, spirituality (152). This approach to dividing Raskol’nikov’s personality among three secondary characters creates a clearer psychological map for the reader and thus generates a better understanding of the protagonist’s mind.

Beebe’s analysis distinguishes between reason, the “conscious explanation” and motive, the “real driving force” that is “at least partly unconscious” (152). Throughout the plot, three principal motives establish themselves as reasons for the pawnbroker’s murder by surfacing to Raskol’nikov’s awareness (152). His intellectual motive is to give her wealth to the more “deserving:” either needy families or himself, to “fund his education to make himself the benefactor of mankind” (152). This motive demonstrates a god complex, as it is rooted in Raskol’nikov’s “dominating characteristic” of “egoistic pride” (152). With this combination of pride, intelligence and a lack of “spiritual or ethical feelings,” Raskol’nikov has the ideal psychology to commit a calculated murder with intellectually justified intentions. His second motive is to determine whether he is an “extraordinary man” capable of overstepping mortal law in order to revolutionize society (154). Significantly, Raskol’nikov does not yet know whether he is extraordinary, which is why he becomes obsessed with committing murder to find out: 

“??? ???? ???? ?????? ?????, ? ???????? ??????, ???? ?? ?, ??? ???, ??? ???????? ????? ?? ? ??????????? ??? ?? ?????! ???????? ?? ????????? ? ????? ??? ???? ????? ?? ? ???????? ??? ????? ????…”  (Dostoevsky 187)  

He fails this test; firstly because he recognizes that extraordinary men need not test themselves (“???, – ?? ???? ?? ??? ???????; ????????? ?????????, ???? ??? ???????????…” (122), and secondly, because he knew beforehand how committing murder would affect him: “”? ??? ?????? ??? ?????… ? ??? ???? ?, ???? ????, ???????????? ????, ????? ?????… ?! ?? ???? ? ?? ??????? ? ????!..” – ????????? ?? ? ????????.” (122)

Raskol’nikov’s third motive is “aggressive lust” (he is captivated by the gruesomeness of murder), which is sanctioned by his will to suffer (Beebe 155). Beebe suggests that this motive is symbolized in Raskol’nikov’s dream about a horse that is beaten to death: “??????? ?????????? ????? ? ???????? ???? ????? ??? ?? ?????. ????? ??????????? ?????, ?????? ???????? ? ???????.” (Dostoevsky 27). He discusses three important instances of aggression for Raskol’nikov:  when he sees and tries to help a drunk woman who has been raped; his dream about the beaten horse; and finally his murder of the pawnbroker and Lizavetta. This progression from observation to dream to violent murder demonstrates an awakening of Raskol’nikov’s “aggressive sensuality” (Beebe 155).  In contrast to his first two motives, this one is not rational, particularly because Raskol’nikov is more masochistic than sadistic, as he considers himself the main victim of his crime (155). This is reflected by Sonia’s reaction to his confession: “… ??? ?? ??? ??? ????? ???????!” (Dostoevsky 184) and “? ???? ????, ? ?? ??????????!” (188)

Furthermore, Wilkinson underscores Dostoyevsky’s use of Freudian psychoanalysis with regard to the Pleasure Principle and Reality Principle, as well as his depiction of the life instinct (Eros) and death instinct (Thanatos) (4). According to her, Thanatos pushes Raskol’nikov to commit murder and thereby self-destruction, while Eros prevents him from confessing his crime or committing suicide (4). However the reality principle constantly intervenes as Raskol’nikov experiences hunger, finds his way home, and undergoes elaborate planning (4). This attention to detail shows that Dostoyevsky has created a masterful literary exploration of psychology. 

Moreover, Dostoevsky explores determinism as both a psychological and philosophical theme. Throughout the novel, the environment both reflects and explains the psychology of his characters. As determinism states that the environment determines its inhabitants, it is often presented as an explanation for criminal behaviour, particularly  in the context of pre-revolution Russian society. Determinism is consistently contrasted with the idea of free will, discussed below. Wilkinson argues that the deteriorated innards of the city mirror the psychological conflict within Raskol’nikov (2): “??? ???? ?????? ???????????? ?????, ??? ?????? ?????-?? ?????????” (Dostoevsky 48). This quote shows how Dostoevsky simultaneously explores the psychological effects of isolation by focussing on a setting of solitude and confinement. Readers are forced to share Raskol’nikov’s limited perception of St. Petersburg, which is often blurred by his periods of unconsciousness and paranoia: 

???????? ?? ??, ??? ???? ?? ?????, ?? ???-???? ?????? ????? ? ?????? ????? ? ?????? ?????? ???????. ?? ? ?????? ?????? ?????? ?? ? ? ?????? ?????? ????; ?? ??????? ???? ?? ??? ?????? ?? ???????? ? ????? ?????? ???????? ? ??????. (Dostoevsky 39). 

Through this perspective, especially considering that Rakol’nikov thinks the poverty of his setting represents society everywhere, his crime appears logical and justifiable.

Also through determinism, Dostoevsky addresses similar philosophical questions to Chernyshevsky about utopian socialism, exploring ideas that later influenced the Russian Revolution. As Dostoevsky advocated for less social stratification, he addresses the idea that societal change can improve people in his novel: “… ???? ???????? ???????? ?????????, ?? ????? ? ??? ???????????? ????????, ??? ??? ?? ??? ???? ????? ????????????, ? ??? ? ???? ??? ?????? ??????????.” (114)

In contrast, Dostoevsky employs the philosophy of free will alongside determinism to allow the readers to decide which theory they prefer as an explanation for the actions and motives of the characters. Free will dictates that one’s choices create their environment, as in the case of Katerina Ivanovna, whose choice to give up her family’s fortune to marry Marmeladov has led her to misery and poverty. Dostoevsky contrasts victims of circumstance such as Sonia, who is left with no option other than prostitution to survive, with “free villains” such as Svidrgailov. Svidrigailov’s character is often interpreted as a reflection of Raskol’nikov’s “evil” side (Lee, 328), yet a more accurate analysis is that he personifies self-gratification as he allows his will to dominate over others’. He disregards the law simply because he can, without feeling moral or ethical restriction, yet his subsequent isolation leads him to commit suicide. In contrast, Sonia is a victim of circumstance yet never becomes bitter. Thus, the message Dostoevsky conveys with his emphasis on free will is that we have a choice of behavior regardless of our situation.

Dostoevsky’s novel centers on the philosophical question of whether actions are justified by their outcomes, as utilitarianism suggests. Razumihin voices the novel’s central debate regarding justified crime: “???? ??? ??? ?????????????” (Dostoevsky 114). Dostoevsky’s principal philosophical argument is that killing cannot be justified, even for a “good cause” since the psychological effects of violence overpower its potential benefits (Doyle). He demonstrates, by providing intimate insight into the psychological aftermath of Raskol’nikov’s crime, that human conscience overpowers utilitarian measurements of greater good (Doyle). However, Dostoevsky suggests that a justified crime can exist, only not in the form of murder. He contrasts Sonia’s crime of prostitution  (she supports her family with these earnings) with Raskol’nikov’s murder, as his crime is shown explicitly, whereas Sonia’s image is never desecrated because she is never shown engaging in prostitution. Even on a basic level of analysis, Raskol’nikov’s guilt and suffering for his crime are juxtaposed with Sonia’s freedom from guilt, thus demonstrating the importance of human conscience in determining which crimes are justified: 

“??, ???????????? ? ????, ? ?????? ?????? … ?????? ? ???????????? ????, – ???????? ??, ???????? ??????, – ?????? ??? ???-?? ?, ????? ????, ??? ???????? ? ????, ??? ?????? ????, ? ??????? ??????????????, ??? ????? ???? ??? ??? ????? ????, ??? ????!” ( Dostoevsky 123)

Sonia’s crime is therefore justified because it is born of self sacrifice and altruism, instead of egoistic pride like Raskol’nikov’s. It is significant that the pawnbroker is not a true villain, since this would have justified her murder (Welsh, 142). This analysis of justified crime centers on morality, as Raskol’nikov’s guilt results from committing a crime that would probably be considered ethical by utilitarian standards. Dostoevsky hereby suggests that human nature recognizes that killing is immoral. Interestingly, Raskol’nikov admits in his article that “??? ?????????? ???????????? ?????????????? ?????? ????????” (Dostoevsky 115), yet it is unclear whether he means that crime is rooted in mental illness or whether he foresees the physical effects that guilt will cause him. 

Moreover, Dostoevsky forces the reader to think philosophically, by introducing the Hegelian “Ubermensch” in the form of Raskol’nikov’s “extraordinary man” theory, whereby the superior intellect of some men gives them the right to transgress mortal law in order to revolutionize society: 

“??????????????” ??????? ????? ?????… ?? ???? ?? ??????????? ?????, ? ??? ????? ????? ????????? ????? ??????? ??????????? … ????? ???? ???????????, ? ??????????? ? ??? ?????? ??????, ???? ?????????? ??? ???? (?????? ????????????, ????? ????, ??? ????? ????????????). (115)

Rudicina connects Dostoevsky’s “superman” to Russian intellectuals of the time (Rudicina, 1065). She suggests that Dostoevsky’s narrative denounces the idea of a superior social class, as evidenced by the demise of every “free villain” who considered himself above the law: Raskol’nikov, who finds redemption in exile, Svirdigailov, who commits suicide, and Luzhin, who is simply removed from the plot. 
Dostoevsky cleverly forces the reader to adopt a murderer’s perspective on morality though melodramatic oversimplifications in the persona’s (Raskol’nikov’s) mind. For instance, he sees the pawnbroker as a representation of all societal evil (Welch 144); and therefore reasons according to Hegel, that by removing this harmful person from society, he is benefitting mankind. The most important philosophical question in the novel is therefore the one Raskol’nikov asks Sonia:

???? ?? ????? ??? ??? ?????? ?? ???? ??????? ??????: ???? ??? ??? ???? ?? ?????, ?? ???? ?????? ?? ???? ? ?????? ????????, ??? ??????? ???????? ????????? ?? ??? ?? ?? ??????: ???? ?? ??? ???????? (Dostoevsky 182)

The reader’s first reaction is to save Katerina Ivanovna, yet Sonia’s refusal to decide suggests that humans have no right to make such a choice (Welsh, 140). This is also demonstrated by the fact that the novel’s “free villains” including Raskol’nikov and Svidrigailov, who would take it upon themselves to decide over the lives of others, are alienated from society. Thus, alienation is a cause and direct consequence of Raskol’nikov’s crime. Ironically, the crime intended to separate Raskol’nikov from “inferior” people reveals his conscience which connects him to humanity.  At its core, the “extraordinary man” theory is therefore Dostoevsky’s demonstration of the power of ideas over human behavior. 

In conclusion, Crime and Punishment is not merely a two dimensional exploration of psychology but it forces readers to engage with philosophical questions as these two elements are interconnected throughout the plot. The philosophical questions that Dostoevsky poses have psychological origins and effects. For instance, Raskol’nikov’s “extraordinary man” theory and the idea of a justified crime are not only philosophical questions directed towards the reader, but are Raskol’nikov’s psychological reasoning for murder. As Raskol’nikov personifies an entire theory, psychology and philosophy are inseparable. Dostoevsky also cleverly intertwines these elements by contrasting determinism with free will, so that through these philosophies, the reader can better understand the characters’ psychologies. His psychological exploration gains credibility as he borrows from Freud, while his focus on Hegel deepens the novel philosophically. Ultimately, Dostoevsky’s novel is a complex exploration of the psychological effect of  the philosophical debate surrounding justified crime.