Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime And Punishment And Albert Camus The Stranger

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Written in two different time periods, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and Albert Camus’ The Stranger illustrate differing ideas on the influence of society on the individual. Published in 1866, Crime and Punishment draws on the ideas developing during the 19th century of Great Man Theory, the notions that there exists a tension between society and the individual, and that some individuals may transcend the influence of society act independent of societal forces. As such, society influences Raskolnikov, who tries to show he can transcend its pressure and ultimately fails in his attempt. In contrast, written after the first World War, The Stranger draws on modernist and existentialist ideas that a life does not have meaning by simply …show more content…
One major issue that Raskolnikov faces is that of money and status. In Russia during the 1860s, poverty was a pressing issue for students such as Raskolnikov, so it follows that Dostoevsky would use it to illustrate the effect of society on him. The letter from Raskolnikov’s mother demonstrates that Russian society pressures Raskolnikov’s to attain a higher social and wealth status. Informing Raskolnikov about Dunya’s engagement, the letter incenses Raskolnikov, who thinks about his sister’s reasons for marriage and notes he “can be kept at the university, made a partner in the office, his whole fate can be secured; maybe later he will be rich, honored, respected, and perhaps end his life as a famous man! … How can she not sacrifice such a daughter for the sake of such her firstborn son!” (Dostoevsky, 44). Russian society pressures Dunya and Pulcheria into advancing their family’s social status. This pressure, in turn, forces Raskolnikov to act since he recognizes that his sister agrees to prostitute herself for her brother through marriage to a man of perceived better standing. In fact, the most desirable aspect of the fiancée, Luzhin, is that “serves in two posts and already has his own capital” (Dostoevsky, 34). Therefore, social forces push Raskolnikov towards attaining this …show more content…
The social forces acting in The Stranger are less active than those in Crime and Punishment. Although Meursault was once ambitious as a student, his experiences in life causes him to lose this fire “As a student I’d had plenty of ambition of the kind he meant. But, when I had to drop my studies, I very soon realized all that was pretty futile” (Camus, 41). Meursault demonstrates this loss of interest by his decision not to leave his current position for a higher paying position. Additionally, Meursault at times feels as though he wants society to include him, thinking that he felt the urge to reassure him that he “was like everybody else, just like everybody else” (Camus, 66). People tend to keep to themselves. For these reasons, society assists in causing Meursault’s distance from society and therefore his ability to murder the Arab. Therefore, society impacts Meursault and his decision to commit the

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