Guilt In Crime And Punishment Essay

1274 words - 5 pages

Guilt in Crime and Punishment  

In Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky tells a story of a young man that has been forced out of his studies at a university, by poverty. In these circumstances, he develops his theory of an extraordinary man (Frank 62). This conjecture is composed of the ideas that all great men must climb over obstacles in their way to reach their highest potential and benefit human kind. In Raskolnikov's life, the great obstacle is his lack of money, and the way to get over this obstacle is to kill a pawnbroker that he knows. The victim is a rich, stingy, and heartless old crone, and by killing her, taking this evil from the world, Roskolnikov does many great deeds for mankind (Jackson 99),(Kjetsaa 182).

"The little old crone is nonsense!' [Raskolnikov] thought, ardently and impetuously. 'The old woman was a mistake perhaps, but she's not the point! The old woman was merely a sickness…I was in a hurry to step over…it wasn't a human being I killed, it was a principle!" (C&P, Pevear 274).

Consciously, Raskolnikov refuses to accept guilt for committing the crime because he believes that there is nothing to be sorry for. Subconsciously, he knows that he has taken a human life and must suffer the consequences. His guilt and suffering because of it can be seen in his delirium. Right after Raskolnikov kills the pawnbroker he falls ill. When he sleeps, he has nightmares; when he walks, he sees ghosts. These visions are his subconscious telling him that he is wrong for not taking fault and confessing his sin.

In his delirium Raskolnikov believes that he sees ghosts. "And just now I imagined that perhaps I really am mad and was only seeing a ghost"(C&P, Pevear 295). He believes that he has seen a phantom, "exaggerated by his troubled and sick imagination" (C&P, Pevear 331-332). He is deathly afraid of being given away by his outburst and lack of self-control and is afraid of his guilt. These visions that haunt him, are there to remind Raskolnikov that he has committed a sin.

"'What do you want?' Raskolnikov asked, going dead.
The man paused ….
…'What is this?' Raskolnikov cried out.
'I am guilty,' the man said softly.
'Of what?'
'Of wicked thoughts.'"( C&P, Pevear 356).

Raskolnikov believes that these are outside sources that are bothering him. But the truth is that he is inventing them himself. His punishment is his sickness and the terror given by the phantoms that are in constant pursuit of him.

When he does not see apparitions, he imagines that the people around him are not real. His savior, compassion-evoking friend, Sonia, is constantly being compared to a ghost. "Look at your hand!", Raskolnikov says, "Quite transparent. Finger's like a dead person's."( C&P, Pevear 316). When he sees her on the street he sees her as an apparition that flashes before him (C&P, Pevear 526). All that is good and pure is no longer real. Raskolnikov puts himself in seclusion from those that he knows and loves...

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