Crime and Punishment, written by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, establishes his motifs through the use of. This novel reinstates the motif of self-sacrifice into different characters that interact with the main character, Raskolnikov. Although the largest case of self-sacrifice lies in the character of Sonya which is not thoroughly discussed in Chapter III and IV of Part One, pages 35 to 64 contributes the largest variety of self-sacrifice that is found within Crime and Punishment. Here, self-sacrifice comes in three different forms: the sacrifice of ones own body, the sacrifice of someone you love, and the sacrifice for someone you love. The slight contrast between the three situations allow for a greater understanding of this motif. In Crime and Punishment, the motif of self-sacrifice is established through the characterization of Dunya and Raskolnikov’s mother in the letter and his encounters with a potential young prostitute.
In Chapter IV, Raskolnikov encounters a young girl that represents the motif of self-sacrifice through her potential of becoming a prostitute. Raskolnikov first encounters the girl on page 57, when the sight of an older man pursuing her interrupts his thoughts of his mother’s recent letter. He observes the girl and finds her current state peculiar. Established through imagery, the desolate state of the young girl is described as “wearing a little silk dress of thin material, but she had it on in a very odd manner with hardly any of its fasteners done, and in behind, just where the skirt began, at her waist, it was torn; a whole piece of material had come away and hung loose” (57). The ‘torn skirt’ gives a typical image of what young women and girls looked like in brothels in third-world countries.
Raskolnikov’s examples of what the drunken young girl’s life would be like evoke compassion.
Prostitution is a form of self-sacrifice because it involves the sacrifice of ones body. During the 1800s, in which this story takes context and now, it is unlikely that a young girl would willingly give up her body without a cause. The choice of going into prostitution often involves a financial situation, similar to the situations of Sonya and Dunya. Sonya devotes all her time to her family and prostitutes herself in order to keep her family alive, despite her father’s alcoholic problems. While Dunya is not an example of an extreme self-sacrifice in comparison to Sonya, she depicts a lesser sacrifice in order to sustain her brother, Raskolnikov. These women and girls are now socialized into an ethos of self-sacrifice.
Alexandrovna Raskolnikov’s devotion to her son enables her to sacrifice her daughter’s happiness. Her devotion is to the extent that she is ready to condone her daughter’s self-sacrifice for his benefit. The fact that she willingly gave away Dunya’s hand in marriage to a man whose decision marry her is based on the need to feel that someone is indebted to him is ridiculous. Even though she is aware that Luzhin agreed to...