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Suffering To Achieve Happiness In Dostoevsky’s Crime And Punishment

769 words - 3 pages

In such poor living conditions, those that the slums of Russia has to offer, the characters in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment1 struggle, living day to day. Raskolnikov, the protagonist, experiences multiple layers of suffering (the thought of his murder causes him greater suffering than does his poverty) as does Sonia and Katerina Ivanovna (1). Through these characters as well as Porfiry Petrovitch, Dostoevsky wants the reader to understand that suffering is the cost of happiness and he uses it to ultimately obliterate Raskolnikov’s theory of an ubermensch which allows him to experience infinite love.
The character’s suffering is thrown in the readers face right from the beginning. Raskolnikov’s suffering has two apparent layers, “he was crushed by poverty, but the anxieties of his position had of late ceased to weigh upon him” (1). It seems that the suffering caused from his current state of mind is so great that he does not even feel the suffering caused by his poverty. Throughout Crime and Punishment Raskolnikov’s main point of suffering is caused by his inability to let others know of the crime he has committed and as a result he alienates himself from those who show him compassion (156). As the novel progresses he decides to tell Sonia because expressing his crimes would alleviate some of the suffering, however, her morals encompass the idea that it is inconceivable to “go on living” without suffering and “expiation” (416). At this confession, the reader is presented with a righteous character (probably the most) that does not judge Raskolnikov for what he has done but instead sympathizes and tells him that turning himself in and bearing the consequences will relieve him of the suffering caused mentally.
Another character that is faced with multiple layers of suffering is Katerina Ivanovna. Not only is she poverty-stricken she also has tuberculosis, which is amplified by the conditions she has to live in. While dying, Katerina Ivanovna looked at Sonia “with a face of suffering” because she was so occupied with caring for all her other children that she never had a chance to see how Sonia lived (429). In the scene where Marmeladov dies, leaving Katerina to raise the children on her own, the reader is given a sense of the compassion and understanding between the husband and wife. The priest is...

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