The Mind Of A Criminal In Fyodor Dostoevsky’s "Crime And Punishment" And Mary Shelley’s "Frankenstein"

748 words - 3 pages

The human mind is a complex labyrinth barely explored. What drives humans to make decisions, behave in certain manors, and react in certain ways are defined by many theories of psychology. What actually goes on in the mind of a criminal or a sociopath? Can crimes be justified? And where do society’s morals take effect? These questions are ones that might be posed when reading Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. A great mind can easily be corrupted by a narcissistic need for knowledge or the simple drive to prove a point. Both protagonists in these novels are faced against a mirror, fighting with their own minds, reaping consequences of past decisions and underdeveloped ideas these characters, although great men force themselves onto a road of redemption after failed experiments. Both works embody main characters that isolate themselves from society in a search for intellectual enlightenment but to their dismay, a reversal of fortune occurs.
Raskolnikov, in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, concocts a plan to murder the town’s pawnbroker to prove a very flawed theory without a distinct motive. Prior to the formulation of his theory, Raskolnikov alienates himself from the rest of society. He lives his life in dire poverty, cut off from the rest of the world, and left to his own thoughts, “The question whether the disease gives rise to the crime, or whether the crime, due to its own peculiar nature, is always accompanied by something like a disease, he did not yet feel able to decide” (Dostoevsky 71). The disease is poverty and alienation. Out of desperation, perhaps, he devised this plan to help alleviate him and his family’s financial difficulties. The pawnbroker was wealthy and he did rob her with the intent of helping the less fortunate, “…would not one tiny crime be wiped out by thousands of good deeds?” (66) Raskolnikov is intent on subconsciously justifying the murder, “Raskolnikov becomes a ‘criminal in search of his own motive;’ he does not in the end know why he committed his crime…” (Leatherbarrow). Corrupted by loneliness, a lack of true self accomplishment, and driven by the need to help his impoverished family Raskolnikov falls victim to the dark side of the human psyche. Desperation becoming his sole...

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