In every age we live, there is a constant struggle between finding a cure to our neurosis with the advent of urbanization and finding qualities in nature that supersede our abilities in enhancing modern man. With that kind of chaos come various forms of behaviors and actions, most of which stem to arguments of good versus evil. Dostoevsky insists that men have the choice between good and evil every moment of their lives; no matter the circumstance, they have the choice between moral and immoral. Crime and Punishment is a story of Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov’s struggle with the ideologies of his time. The young and impoverished law student is torn between unifying and nihilistic cultures afflicting nineteenth-century tsarist Russia. Through a journey of crime, it becomes clear to Raskolnikov that his ultimate failure was caused by his transgression in murdering cold-heartedly, attempting to prove his self-worth by crossing the law. As Raskolnikov’s guilt overwhelms him and becomes unbearable, his only solace is confession to the crime. Serving his prison term in Siberia, Raskolnikov comes to the realization that reason cannot beat the human conscience.
Motive is central to any crime committed. When put on trial, a prosecutor must first prove that the accused acted in the crime, and then he/she must prove the criminal possessed a “guilty mind.” There is neither doubt nor denial that Raskolnikov murdered the old pawnbroker and her half-sister. As he was approaching the old woman’s house, Raskolnikov protested to himself, “Can it be, can it be, that I will really take an axe, that I will strike her on the head, split her skull open . . . that I will tread in the sticky warm blood, break the lock, steal and tremble; hide, all spattered in the blood . . . with the axe . . . Good God, can it be?” (Dostoevsky 60). And apart from the fateful act, Raskolnikov is by no means a resolute character (Jones 70).
Dualism tears the protagonist into two. Raskolnikov is torn between doing good and evil. Even after committing the terrible crime, Raskolnikov “manages to defend the meek, vulnerable and falsely accused Sonya and at the same time to attack the cynical, philistine Luzhin” (Jones 78). Proving he is not an evil person. Throughout the novel, Raskolnikov attempts to figure out whether it was better to prove his theories through evil or satisfy his conscience by doing good. “His crime is the outcome of a monomania” (Hackett 74). And sadly to say, it is that one crime that defines Raskolnikov throughout the rest of the novel. His obsession with his own ideas led his split between reason and morality. However, no amount of reason can rid man’s conscience—it is an immutable force that haunts Raskolnikov from the murderous act.
Raskolnikov argues after the murders, “Extraordinary men have a right to commit any crime and to transgress the law in any way, just because they are extraordinary” (Dostoevsky 247). After publication of his essay...