The Theme Of Individualism In Crime And Punishment

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Register to read the introduction… Compared to his other works, the theme of Crime and Punishment isn’t as deliberately Christian. The novel was written in 1864 shortly after Dostoyevsky lost his first wife, brother and a close friend. It reveals a time in his life when he felt detached from society and religion and this was portrayed through the characters in the book, mainly through the protagonist, Raskolinkov, whose name is derived from the Russian root meaning schism or apostate. Even though Crime and Punishment mainly has a social message, it provides the reader with insight to the Christian interpretation of man. Through Raskolinkov he illustrates that the individualism carried to the extreme is self destructive. In addition, in the novel Dostoyevsky portrays that by being humble and loving, the vilest man can be changed, and it is though learning to love that man begins to change. Despite his actions, Raskolinkov is a good man that is conscious of the right way. He believes that he is an 'extraordinary man', one who would do anything do assure his success, and by killing the pawnbroker and her sister he proves this theory. Raskalnikov’s greatest sin is not the murder of Aliona Ivanovna or that of Litzeveta though, it his is alienation from society due to his arrogance that is the greatest sin. Despite successfully committing the crime, he is unable to live with himself. After Raskalnikov murders what he calls a 'louse' in the name of freedom, he becomes a slave to guilt and lousier than his victim. This guilt negates Raskalnikov’s 'Napoleon' theory, and he continually asks himself how he could stop the …show more content…
This leads our protagonist to realize that he is miserable but unrepentant; he believed that he has done nothing wrong and he is convinced that through the strength of his will, he can overcome his guilt, but the only way that he can overcome his guilt is with the help of Sonya, who is the embodiment of divine weakness and is the reason behind Raskalnikov’s eventual redemption. She is the daughter of Marmeladov who is forced into prostitution in order to help provide for her family even though she does so willingly. Sonya is an uneducated, poor and submissive woman, who is seen as folly in the public eye, but to Dostoyevesky she is a testament to the grace of God. At a point in the novel she feels that it is only God who keeps her going as she sinks through the depths. Similar to her father, Sonya realizes how unworthy she is before God, and that her belief in God allows her to love others unconditionally, including a sinner such as Raskalnikov. It is the meekness and love that begins to break Raskalnikov down. At first he is argumentative as he mocks her faith. Being attached to Sonya’s strength, Raskalnikov realizes that he is not alone, and this realization leads him to confessing to Sonya. Through this confession the reader sees that Raskalnikov’s aggression and isolation towards society begins to submit to divine weakness. However, the confession is not enough for Sonya. Sonya only wants one thing from Raskalnikov, that he should acknowledge the reality of mankind outside himself, and that he should solemnly confess and declare to all people the acceptance of his newfound faith. She wants him to declare this by telling him to bow down at a crossroads, kiss the earth and say aloud that '[he has] killed'. Sonya also knows that after Raskalnikov repents that he would then have to suffer the

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