Friedrich Nietzsche And Dostoyevsky’s Crime And Punishment

2336 words - 9 pages

Crime and Punishment, written by Fyodor Dostoyevsky in 1866, is a political novel about a poor former student, by the name of Raskolnikov, who murders a pawnbroker in an attempt to fulfill his own theory that if a man is truly extraordinary, then crime bears no meaning for him; therefore nothing he does is a crime, and he is exempt from morality. However, under the law, no one is exempt from punishment if they have committed a crime, and Raskolnikov is punished for his. Though Raskolnikov is physically punished for his crime, he did not truly suffer because he believes that murdering the pawnbroker was not a crime, but a benefit to humanity, and does not suffer the moral consequences of it. Raskolnikov justifies the murder by reasoning that by killing the pawnbroker, who no one at all admires, he “will be removing a ‘louse’ from society” (Cernich). Dostoyevsky is suggesting that there are philosophical thinkers who theorize that not only are there beings with the capability to transgress the law, but they are exempt from the morality of it because they believe themselves to be superior beings.
In Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, an article that Raskolnikov wrote has come to the surface after the murders of Alyona Ivanovna and her half sister Lizaveta. This published article reveals Raskolnikov’s “Extraordinary Man Theory,” in which he theorizes that “all people are divisible into ‘ordinary’ and ‘extraordinary’ (Dostoyevsky 256). Raskolnikov believes that the “ordinary” are “morally obliged to obedience, because that’s their role in life” (Dostoyevsky 258). He adds to this by saying that the “ordinary” are “people conservative by nature, sedate, who live obediently and who like being obedient” (Dostoyevsky 258). As for the “extraordinary,” Raskolnikov explains that the “extraordinary” “all transgress the law” (Dostoyevsky 258). Raskolnikov defines their actions simply by saying, “They call for the destruction of the present in the name of something better” (Dostoyevsky 258). Raskolnikov better explains the “extraordinary” man by saying, “that the ‘extraordinary’ man has the right… I don’t mean the official right; but he has the inner right to permit his conscience to transgress… certain obstacles, but only if the execution of his idea- which might involve the salvation of all mankind- demands it” (Dostoyevsky 257). He justifies his theory by using Newton as a hypothetical example of an “extraordinary” man. Raskolnikov insists that “Newton would have the right, he would even be obliged… to remove these ten men, or these hundred men, so he could make his discoveries known to all mankind” (Dostoyevsky 257). He also justifies his theory by saying, “well, for example, the lawgivers and architects of our humanity, from the most ancient on through the Lycurguses, Solons, Mohammeds, Napoleons, and so forth- they were all criminals, to a man” (Dostoyevsky 257). Raskolnikov adds, “You might even take note that these benefactors and...

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