Crime and Punishment, by Fyodr Dostoevsky, skillfully reveals the flaws of 19th century Russia through multiple complex themes. One of the essential themes expressed in the novel is the rationalization of crime. Dostoevsky deploys the intellectual trends sweeping through Russia at the time, such as utilitarianism and nihilism, in order to portray the framework of mind Rodya uses to justify his actions. Without such ideologies and his belief in the übermensch, Rodya would never think of committing the murder. Through his main character, Dostoevsky portrays the impracticality and inevitable failure of such philosophies. A belief in utilitarianism is a belief in maximizing happiness and minimizing suffering for the greatest number of people through any means necessary (Webster). The event that catalyzes and solidifies Rodya’s decision to kill the pawnbroker is when he overhears a student say killing the old lady would benefit more people than if she were to keep on living. Such a coincidence proves to Rodya that he is destined to carry out the action in order maximize the value to life for the most people. Although, at this point in the book Rodya’s rationale is still unclear, the discussion and analytical dissection of his article “On Crime” reveal his true inner psyche. Rodya emphasizes that as long as the greater good is kept in mind, any action is justified. He even goes as far to say that killing a few people is warranted if the number of people who benefit outweighs the number of people who died. Whereas the first murder of the pawnbroker serves its purpose of removing a louse from society, the second murder of the sister was done on with a self-serving purpose. The second, selfish murder prompts the reader to consider whether or not Rodya can hold true to his own ideologies. His hypocrisy renders his philosophy of utilitarianism an inherently utopian concept that cannot be seen in terms of black and white. Utilitarianism is one of the key layers of Rodya’s mental workings that contributes to the rationalization of the murder. Without the rationale of benefiting the most lives possible, Rodya could not have justified the killing of the pawnbroker as a non-criminal act. Through the protagonist’s flawed epistemology, Dostoevsky playfully mocks how man uses his own version of the truth to give reason to his actions while simultaneously convincing himself that what he is doing is “good.” If everyone were to justify their actions by claiming them to be utilitarian in nature, then there would be no “crime” because everyone’s perception of what is and what is not mutually beneficial is completely subjective. The world would be thrown into chaos and the justification for crime would become infinitely regressive, thus producing a reality where no one is benefiting and going against the very nature of utilitarianism. However, Rodya’s theory of utilitarian actions is best executed by his idea of the übermensch. Philosophers such as Friedrich Nietzsche believe that man should strive everyday to achieve the status of the übermensch, and Rodya attempts to do so. However, his perpetual struggle to become the übermensch proves to be impossible. His action is premised on the fact that there exist a select number of people whose immense greatness allows them to transcend rules and ethics that dictate society. Rodya cites Napoleon Bonaparte and Sir Isaac Newton as examples of the übermensch. Rodya argues that if “Newton's discoveries could become known to people in no other way than by sacrificing the lives of one, or ten, or a hundred or more people who were hindering the discovery, or standing as an obstacle in its path, then Newton would have the right, and it would even be his duty... to remove those ten or a hundred people, in order to make his discoveries known to mankind” (206). In order to prove that he too is an extraordinary man who is above the moral rules that govern humanity, Rodya kills the pawnbroker. By committing…
Punishment Research Paper
October 6, 2013
Punishment Research Paper
As we all know, in our American society there’s four types of punishments. They are; Retribution, Deterrence, Rehabilitation, and Social Protection. In our society we use these four punishments in attempt to help lower the crime rates within the society. When looking at the outcome of these punishments, one would consider some are harder than others.
As written in the early bible years, there’s…
Raskolnikov’s Guilt from the Beginning
A principle part of Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky is the evolution of Raskolnikov’s conscience that slowly drives him to confess.
Crime and punishment is primarily about Raskolnikov’s inner conflict, whether or not to commit the murder of Alyona Ivanovna, and whether or not to confess. Raskolnikov’s primary incentive to kill was backed up; she was a louse that scammed people. He truly believed that good would come from her death. Raskolnikov felt…
Crime & Punishment Essay
May 23, 2012
Dostoyevsky in his novel, Crime and Punishment, introduces the reader to the main
character, Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov. Throughout the entire novel, Rodion suffers; he
suffers mentally, physically, and emotionally. Often, he is the very reason why he suffers.
Rodion believes that mankind is naturally separated into extraordinary and ordinary men. It is
soon revealed that he has an inner struggle with this theory of his and fears that it may not apply…
This barbarous punishment took the life of an innocent mother by pretexting she is a whore. Here's the thing, identify homicide or rape with bodily harm as a crime in the United States that the punishment of stoning would serve as an effective deterrent mechanism. Deterrence is an important part of the criminal justice system. What crime is committed to use the punishment of stoning as an effective deterrent in the United States of America? The law is very specific about which crime can result in…
In Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment he has two crucial characters, Raskolnikov and Sonya. Raskolnikov, a tormented human, and Sonya, his light in a dark room. Sonya has the capability of saving Raskolnikov from himself but as the story progresses the light begins to dim. To agree with the claim that Raskolnikov spiritual regeneration is “unrealistic” is to except the fact he is incapable of love because his own pride is paradoxical. Therefore the idea that he is forever hopelessly…
Crime and punishment
The Elizabethan world was split into to two classes. There were different laws for different classes. The upper class were well educated and they were health. But the poor were very unhealthy and uneducated so some of them had to go to crime to survive. The punishments for crimes then were much more brutal than today’s punishments.
The worst crimes to commit were murder, rape, arson, manslaughter and witchcraft. These were called capital offences. The punishment for…
Crime and Punishment would hardly be the book it is without all the violence. After all it is because of the violence that all the actions that happen within the book happen.
If there were no violence this book wouldn't make sense. All we would no is the story of the characters' lives, and their constant frustrations. They wouldn't do anything about it though, which would make the story boring. Hardly entertaining. It wouldn't show the importance of the murders, family engaments, and the deaths…
RS- CRIME AND PUNISHMENT REVISION NOTES
• 140 prisons in England and Wales
• 70,000 prisoners in England and Wales
• Between £700-1000 to keep 1 prisoner in prison for a week
• Most women in prison are mothers
• Alcohol is part of the majority of violent crimes
• A young offenders institution holds 15-21 year old people
• It’s important to know right from wrong as for society to be functional we have to be law-abiding
Reasons for Crime…
1 May 2016
Reflective Statement on Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
In the interactive oral, we were given scenarios about characters and what their intentions would have been in the case that a different event happened or an added event. In one scenario the question was, if the protagonist, Raskolnikov, had met Sonya with knowledge of the murder, could Sonya have convinced Raskolnikov to not commit the crime? There were many opposing answers, but through the novel…