The Theme of Duality in Crime and Punishment Essay

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The Theme of Duality in Crime and Punishment


In Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, the theme of duality is present throughout much of the novel.  There are dual conflicts: one external between a disillusioned individual and his world, and the other internal between an isolated soul and his conscience (Walsh).  It is the internal conflict in the main character, Raskolnikov, that is the focuses of much of the novel.  The dual personalities of Raskolnikov are constantly at battle with one another, causing the inner conflict he experiences and thus creating his own personal punishment.

The first of Raskolnikov's two sides is his intellectual side.  This side of him is cold, unfeeling, inhumane, and
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Raskolnikov's two personalities completely contradict each other in every way.  "It is not that he has two different sides.  Raskolnikov is TWO people.  There is cold, antisocial Raskolnikov...and there is good Raskolnikov, but he is totally separate...they are two completely isolated individuals" (James).
    One of the first examples of his dual character is right after he drops off Marmeladov and sees how terrible their living situation is.  His compassionate side comes out.  "As he went out, Raskolnikov had time to put his hand into his pocket, to snatch up the coppers he had received in exchange for his rouble in the tavern and to lay them unnoticed on the window" (Dostoevsky 24).  Even though he is almost as bad off as this family, he finds it in himself to leave the little money he has. But in the next line, his intellectual side realizes he doesn't have the money to spare.  "Afterwards, on the stairs he changed his mind and would have gone back. "What a stupid thing I have done," he thought to himself" (Dostoevsky 25).  His dual character is first apparent here.

Another time we see Raskolnikov's two personalities in contrast with each other is when he is on the street and he comes in contact with the young girl who has apparently been raped or drugged.  When he realizes what the man following her wants, he attempts to

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