Fyodor Dostoyevsky was a Russian writer born in Moscow in 1821. He is most famously known for his outstanding short-stories and psychologically controversial novels.
Dostoyevsky was the second child to a former military doctor. He was mainly educated in the privacy of his own home up until his mother’s death in 1837. After her death, he was sent to St. Petersburg where he enrolled into a college for engineering. After graduation however, he decided to pursue writing. He devoted himself passionately to writing until his arrest and death sentence in 1849. He was arrested for being part of a socialist Russian group. He was then imprisoned in Siberia where he spent and worked for the next eight years of his life. Eventually Dostoyevsky returned to St. Petersburg as a writer again. His experience in Siberia influenced him to write many short stories including The House of the Dead. In 1857 Dostoyevsky finally got married to a 29 year old widow. In 1864 however, he lost her and his older brother. Losing both loved beings caused him to become a gambler and fall into great debt. However, his depression and need for money produced one of his greatest novels, Crime and Punishment (Fyodor).
We can say that Dostoyevsky’s personal challenges greatly influenced all his writing. Dark and somber could describe the time in which he wrote Crime and Punishment. The dark cloud which surrounded him is reflected in the novels protagonist Raskolnikov, who also was a former college student who fell into a deep depression.
It is likely that Raskolnikov can be a representation of what Dostoyevsky felt or believed at the time. The desire to commit murder is a little improbable, but maybe suicide or grandeur of character is possible. Furthermore, it’s possible that Raskolnikov is Dostoyevsky’s dream figure: someone who’s smart, witty, and willing to experiment. A man who lived a far more fetching life than that of one spent in prison and deep in writing; like an imaginary figure to escape reality. Reality is also a theme covered in Crime and Punishment.
Raskolnikov is a broken, confused man. His name actually translates into divided. His personality and actions also live up to his name. Since the beginning of the novel, we can see the polarity of his actions. One moment he is a selfish intellectual then drastically turns into a giving, emotional individual. Hence when he gives money to a drunken young girl on the street; his charitable feelings quickly escalated to complete revulsion (45-49). His feelings are no doubt the effect of his inner battle of what he perceives himself to be and the reality of who he is. The struggle manifests itself in several other ways as well for instance, his dreams.
Dreams carry vast significance in different religions, beliefs, and cultures. Dreams have always captivated mans curiosity because of the mystery that surrounds them. They are unpredictable, prophetic, and extraordinary. People have always been baffled by its many qualities. On dreams, one of Freud’s theories actually suggests that if someone is affected by guilt, it will manifest itself as nightmares and hallucinations. Dreams are just our attempts of perceiving reality in a different perspective. Buddhists have a short story that relates to the mystery of dreams as well: there was once a deva who was playing with several others. As the day grew old, she grew tired and decided to take a nap. During her nap she passed away and was reborn as a girl on earth. There she lived the typical life: marriage, kids, and long happy years. Eventually she grew old and passed away in which she later was reborn among the same devas who had just finished playing the game of before. The moral of the story is to provide evidence of the different planes of existence, thus stating that reality is just a dream.
So if life is but a dream, how do we separate it from reality? This theory that our lives and subconscious is connected to our dreams…