Guilt, Suffering, Confession and Redemption in Crime and Punishment
"You keep lying!" screamed Raskolnikov, no longer able to restrain himself. "You're lying, you damned clown!" And he flung himself on Porfiry, who retired to the doorway, but without a trace of panic. "I understand everything, everything!" He approached Porfiry. "You're lying and taunting me so Ill give myself away-" "You can't give yourself away any more than you have already, Rodion Romanovich, old man. Why, you've gone into a state. Don't shout, I'll call my men, sir!" (Dostoyevsky, 34)
No humane person with any values is able to commit a heinous crime without some feeling of guilt or remorse afterwards. Slowly, this guilt festers and eats away at one's conscience until the point of escape, reached by confession, thus leading to salvation. Throughout Dostoyevsky's Crime and. Punishment the main character, Raskolnikov is stricken with guilt and suffering that eventually lead to his confession and redemption motivated by many forces.
Crime and Punishment is the story of a young "intellect", Raskolnikov, who develops a superman theory. In his hypothesis, he felt that certain men were extraordinary and could commit unethical acts without punishment or a guilty conscience. In his case, he wanted to rid the earth of a parasite through the vicious slaying of an old pawnbroker, Alyona, and her sister, Lizaveta, in order to gain money so that he could continue his studies and to see if he was truly extraordinary. Was he truly the Napoleon that he thought he was? Could he walk over people with no regard for their feelings or sufferings as Napoleon had? (Literary Criticism, 68) "He is obviously no superman or Napoleon, but didn't get enough fresh air to his cubicles." (Timoney)
It may be seen among many critics that Dostoyevsky could have directly related to his character, Raskolnikov. Both of them had experienced sufferings beyond what one can imagine. Dostoyevsky felt that suffering gives one the chance of puri6cation and transformation. Through his many ordeals of suffering, ranging from the near death of his sick children or his epileptic seizures, to his early imprisonment and exile to Siberia, Dostoyevsky felt that he eventually reached the point of happiness "The way of salvation is the way of suffering" could often be heard mumbled from Dostoyevsky's mouth. For these reasons, critics believe that Raskolnikov may have been a direct symbol of Dostoyevsky and his suffering. (Kjetsaa, 346-349)
Dostoyevsky most likely modeled Crime and Punishment after his own experiences. Since the two men's lives had striking similarities, many people believed that was evidence to prove their thinking. As Raskolnikov was overcome with tremendous suffering, sent to Siberia, and fell madly in love with a beautiful woman; so did Dostoyevsky within his lifetime. "I do believe that the character (Raskolnikov) was the epitome of...