Common Themes In Crime And Punishment And The Brothers Karamazov

2411 words - 10 pages

Russian author and philosopher, Fyodor Dostoevsky, was best known for his literary contributions between 1866 and 1880. Of his substantial work, Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, The Devils, and The Brothers Karamazov are the novels he remains most recognized for. In each of these novels, Dostoevsky examines and interprets several social, physical, mental, and emotional situations and conditions, which he believed to, influenced the nature of humanity. His theories concerning the causes and effects of these situations are evident throughout each of his works in a clear and precise manner. Despite the fourteen-year gap between the first of his novels, Crime and Punishment, and the last, The ...view middle of the document...

In The Brothers Karamazov, the act of murder is depicted in a similar manner. Here, Fyodor Pavlovich is killed by Smerdyakov. Although Smerdyakov actions may have had different motives than Raskolnikov did, the end goal the both of them were trying to achieve was similar. Fyodor Pavlovich’s death wasn’t exactly mourned in the society. He was a drunk, a poor father, and a nuisance to the society; the news of his death brought no sadness within society. In fact, his death was most likely a relief to many. Although both these murders were portrayed to be beneficial in some ways to the general society, in no way does this imply that Dostoevsky was in favor of murder. In both novels the murderers were brought to justice and punished for their crimes.
In Crime and Punishment, even though Raskolnikov faces justice and bears the punishment of his actions by going to prison, according to Dostoevsky, his real punishment was in the form of the mental anguish he faces in the long period before his imprisonment. The suffering he goes through while trying to avoid getting punished is far more serious than when he turns himself in and goes to prison. The psychology of a criminal mind was a subject of great interest to Dostoevsky. Not only does Dostoevsky look into the mind of the killer, but he also studies the minds of people in the society who wouldn’t mind seeing the victim dead. In The Brothers Karamazov, Ivan is shown to have paved the way for Smerdyakov and hence is guilty by association. While he may not have committed the murder, the simple thought that he was an accomplice tormented him constantly. Ivan couldn’t handle the guilt and so resorted to alcoholism as means to calm his mind. This combination was lethal for Ivan as it was the cause of his delirium tremens and nervous collapse. His brother Dmitri, who wasn’t guilty of Fyodor’s murder either, suffered a great deal too as he felt he was guilty of committing many other sins. Smerdyakov eventually killed himself, exposing that he definitely went through a lot of mental stress while trying to subdue the guilt of taking someone’s life. Dostoevsky here, successfully demonstrated that a physical prison wasn’t the only form of punishment for criminals. According to him, every criminal faces their punishment even though all aren’t prosecuted to the full extent of the war and imprisoned. Although one could avoid the legal punishment of being locked up, these sinners could not avoid the punishment they placed on themselves. The most apt example of this psychological theory is demonstrated through Svidrigailov's character from Crime and Punishment. Svidrigailov, as despicable as he may be, realizes that he cannot live completely isolated from the rest of humanity and accordingly decides to kill himself. The fact that even somebody like Svidrigailov suffers a psychological breakdown strengthens Dostoevsky’s idea that no one can avoid the torment caused by one's own past. Hence, every man is punished for his...

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