The Development Of Rousseau And Raskolnikov In Dostoyevsky's "Crime And Punishment" And Camus' "The Outsider"

1718 words - 7 pages

In every society, it is important for individuals to adhere to a set of principles inorder to maintain order. In Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment and Camus' TheOutsider , however, both protagonists ignored the values of their society. Raskolnikovand Meursault felt their own beliefs were significant, and through their actions they wereable to express them. As a result, one man was judged as a social deviant, while the otherman suffered psychologically. Through dealing with this strife, Raskolnikov andMeursault gained a better understanding of their values and personal worth.In the beginning both men rejected the fundamental values of society and formedtheir own ideologies. Raskolnikov, for instance, believed that "we have to correct anddirect nature. But for that, there would never had been a single great man"1. In fact, hehad written an article titled "The psychology of a criminal before and after the crime". Itstated that 'ordinary' men live according to the law and exist only to reproduce thehuman race, yet 'extraordinary' men may break laws "if in his own conscience it isnecessary to do so in order to better mankind"2. Raskolnikov believed that indeed, hewas an "extraordinary man"3, but like Meursault, his beliefs were untested. As a result,he murdered an old pawnbroker women in order to prove himself. Meursault, as well,acted against the social norm. For example, even though it was expected of a son, he didnot show sorrow at his mother's funeral4. He did not think this was shallow, however, hejust refused to falsely show emotion when he did not feel any; "I realized that I'dmanaged to get through another Sunday, that mother was now buried, that I was goingback to work and that, after all, nothing had changed"5. In addition, Meursault felt that"nothing really mattered"6. He was willing to be transferred to the Paris branch of hisoffice, but Algiers would do for him as well; he was willing to marry Marie, but he wouldhave married anyone else just as easily; and he was willing to write Raymond's letter forthe simple reason that he "had no reason not to please him"7. This honest and nonchalantway of looking at things was the basis of Meursault's essence. He, and Raskolnikov, hada general sense of who they were; based not on society's principles but their own.After they committed their crimes, Raskolnikov and Meursault were forced toquestion their beliefs. Before the murder, Raskolnikov had a dream. In it, a mare wasbeaten to death by it's enraged master, while a boy tried to defend it8. Now after his guilt"had begun already"9, Raskolnikov questioned whether he was the man who could "stepover barriers"10 without being punished or if he was the boy, filled with compassion andregret.I am contemptible and have nothing in me. If I had succeeded I should have beencrowned with glory, but now I'm trapped. I fail to understand why bombardingpeople by regular siege is more honorable...I am further than ever from seeingwhat I did as a crime11Yet from this...

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