Essay on Is Personality Determined by Nature or Nurture?

1633 Words Apr 12th, 2007 7 Pages
Crime and Punishment Essay

Societal Rehabilitation

Fyodor Dostoyevsky's work in Crime and Punishment can be cited as largely autobiographical. Although the author never committed anything like the atrocious murders depicted in the novel, the nihilistic traits of his protagonist, Raskolnikov, closely resemble his own ideals as a youth. In 1947, Dostoyevsky joined the revolutionary Petrashevist cause. The author and this group of radical socialists narrowly escaped death after being arrested by police. They received a pardon from the czar only moments before a firing squad was to take aim. They were sentenced instead to four years in a Siberian labor camp. In his penal servitude Dostoyevsky examined his revolutionary
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In Raskolnikov's opinion, the ends justify the means. This in mind, he murders the old pawnbroker in a political statement. He attacks the power and corruption that Alyona Ivanovna represents and, thus, her death serves a higher purpose. Raskolnikov's extraordinary man theory closely parallels the radical work of one of Dostoyevsky's contemporaries, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche. Nietzsche, a German philosopher and classical scholar, was also a precursor to Existentialism. Like Raskolnikov, he was an atheist who promoted a sort of "master morality." He opposed Christianity for venerating the weak and humble and believed that one should celebrate his time on earth without striving for a heavenly after-life. Nietzsche believed each person possessed a "will to power." While the common people chose to exert power over their passions, Nietzsche's "superman" was able to channel his passions for a purpose. In this way, the "superman" was able to "live dangerously" and rule with dominance. Part of Nietzsche's theory was his observation of a conflict between two human tendencies. The Apollonian tendency represents rational thinking and a desire for order, clarity, and restraint. The Dionysian tendency corresponds to irrationality and passion. Nietzsche believed that these two tendencies existed together. If either tendency were denied, chaos would result. These ideas can easily be related to Raskolnikov's socialism. Raskolnikov's argument for his piece in

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