Analysis Of Crime And Punishment, By Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Crime and Punishment is a novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky on the account of a murder and its consequences. Raskolnikov is the murderer, and the novel describes his guilt, suffering, and redemption. Sonya, a prostitute and a devout Christian, convinces Raskolnikov to confess, and out of her love, follows him to Siberia where he serves hard labor. Raskolnikov’s sister, Dunya, is pursued by Svidrigailov, a vile man with terrible habits. The subconscious drives of these characters emerge through their actions, causing irrational behavior and dire consequences. However, this behavior cannot be explained by Freudian psychoanalysis alone; Dostoevsky also uses the human psyche to demonstrate the redemption achieved by the characters in the novel.
The subconscious
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Svidrigailov pursues Dunya out of libido, he “could not restrain himself and dared to make Dunya a vile and explicit proposition…” (Dostoevsky 32). He was greatly motivated by his sexual drive, even striking a deal with his wife to, “not be completely faithful to her” (Dostoevsky 472). Svidrigailov attempted to ease Raskolnikov’s suspicions about his pursues of Dunya by stating that he was already engaged to someone else. His fiance was almost sixteen years old, explaining that, “to my mind those sixteen years, those still childish eyes, that timidity, those bashful little tears—to my mind they’re better than beauty…” (Dostoevsky 479-480). Svidrigailov’s rash actions result from an unchecked Id, causing his despicable behavior. It is possible that only applying Freudian psychoanalysis would be sufficient to explain the actions of the characters in Crime and Punishment. Raskolnikov’s actions come from his neurosis, unable to properly suppress his primal instincts. His continued state of delirium throughout the novel might explain his bouts of selflessness, while other times he is especially rude to even his family. Svidrigailov lived off of his libido, and his aggressive tendencies combined with the rejection by Dunya led to his suicide. However this does not explain the entire …show more content…
After he was rejected by Dunya, Svidrigailov did not attempt to fulfill his desires for her. Instead, he was awed by her resilience and strength. Realizing his depravity, Svidrigailov commits selfless acts in donating his money to his fiance and to Sonya for her to accompany Raskolnikov to Siberia. Instead of attempting to reform himself, like Raskolnikov, Svidrigailov shoots himself for redemption. He writes that, “he was dying in his right mind and asked that no one be blamed for his death” (Dostoevsky 530). These acts of morality completely contradict the typical resolution sought by Freudian psychoanalysis. In Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky delves into the complex nature of the human psyche. While agreeing with parts of Freud’s psychoanalytic theories, Dostoevsky expands on the nature of the human mind. He demands redemption of the human soul, no matter how depraved or sinful, as the ultimate goal; simply conforming to the structures of civilization is not enough. Human nature is about passion, love, and in the end, moral integrity, not just its basic instincts. Freud’s decomposition of the human mind to just its basic instincts is too simplistic, but Dostoevsky gives the whole picture of the human

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