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Suffering Idealized Essay

1333 words - 5 pages

Universally feared, pain and suffering are typically detested and avoided at all costs. Raskolnikov is humanized in Crime and Punishment due to his fear of suffering and avoidance of it. However, due to the social and economic ruin of Russia during the setting of the novel, many characters seek out suffering. Inspired by Christianity and the self-sacrifice of the Savior, people turn to the religion as a security blanket, which adds meaning to their existence. These characters not only welcome suffering, but also search for it and throw themselves into adversity.
Ironically for the time period, female characters in the book represent Christian symbols, sacrificing themselves for what they love. Raskolnikov’s own sister, Dunya, acquires a very Christ-like position due to her extensive self-sacrifice. Having grown up in the same environmental situations as Raskolnikov, there is still a distinctive difference in their personalities. This difference allows Dunya to be adored by those around her as contrasted with Raskolnikov who, when at school, was mentioned to have “no friends…” and “nobody liked him” (63). Here Raskolnikov’s differentiation from society is clearly demonstrated. Dunya takes her role a step further and is described as someone who “demands to accept torment for someone else’s sake as quickly as possible.” (567). The connotation of the word “demands” conveys her self-brought on obligation to undergo hardships. The word “quickly” demonstrates just how frenzied her need to suffer for others is. An akin female who also craves suffering is Sonya. This is most clearly validated by her occupation as a prostitute. A prostitute typically sacrifices all they physically have for the sake of others. Her life is meager living in a “ very low ceilinged” (375) room, after previously being thrown out of her family home. Her lodgings low ceiling references the absence of air she struggles with as a byproduct of her transgressions. Despite the inadequate treatment she faces, her love for her family never falters and she continues to put them first throughout. She uses her pitiful wages from prostitution to provide for her family when she herself is in great need as well. She got into prostitution as a way to earn her family wages and still provides for them above herself. Sonya and Dunya are excellent representations of capable, women who crave hardship as a means of aiding those they care for.
Raskolnikov’s ultimate foe, Porfiry, is another character who inadvertently puts himself through suffering. Over the strenuous years endured in his criminal psychology field he has fallen to cigarettes as a vice for his pain. Later on he will admit that he is “short of breath”, and even that his “lungs are dilated” (535), but he still cannot give up the habit. His coping mechanism provides temporary relief, but is wreaking havoc on his health. Without consciously realizing it, Porfiry is using the cigarettes to torment himself. His panted...

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