Evil, a Force Deserving of Punishment Essay

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Evil, a Force Deserving of Punishment What are the best ways to justify a crime? What if that crime were murder? And what sort of punishment would be necessary if that crime wasn’t justified? In the novel Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky multiple characters do immoral or outright evil deeds, but often attempt to justify their actions. Three of the characters who do evil and seek to justify their actions are Rodion Raskolnikov, Sonia, and Svidrigailov. Raskolnikov is the first “criminal” who commits a crime. Early on in the novel, he murders Alyona Ivanovna and her innocent sister Lizaveta Ivanovna and steals several of their items. Raskolnikov however seeks to justify his murders with the belief that his actions had a higher purpose and by mentally connecting himself to individuals such as Napoleon Bonaparte. He also holds a belief that with Alyona Ivanoyna’s money he can do good actions, providing a counter-balance to his earlier, murderous deeds. Despite these attempts at justification, Raskolnikov still throughout the novel struggles with the internal conflict of whether his actions were right or wrong and whether he should turn himself in, something that in the end, Raskolnikov does. In the end, Raskolnikov finds that murder is not justifiable, and is sentenced to eight years of servitude in Siberia for his crime. Sonia is another individual depicted who commits evil, but tries to justify her actions. Sonia’s family is poor and her father is a drunkard, yet she finds a way to keep her family fed. Sonia’s poor living situation forces her to work as a prostitute in order to feed her family. Despite her sinful career, she has no choice but to prostitute with no one able or willing to assist her and her family. Not only does she do evil in order to keep her family fed, but upon learning of Raskolnikov’s crime, she encourages him to confess and is a source of moral strength for him. Sonia is an individual who had no choice but to do some evil to survive, and when confronted with moral issues elsewhere, remains an honest and positive character. The final character who commits actions on both ends of the moral spectrum is Svidrigailov. On one side he is a cruel individual, who is accused of murder and rape, while on the other hand he does random acts of charity. When he first learns of Raskolnikov’s crimes, he does not go to the police, but instead uses the information to torment Raskolnikov cruelly. When he is rejected by Dunya who tells him that she could never love him, he commits suicide instead of working through his problems in a