Existentialism In Crime And Punishment

863 Words4 Pages
Fyodor Dostoevsky’s magnum opus, Crime and Punishment sucks the readers into the consciousness of the protagonist, RodionRomanovichRaskolnikov where a battle, the eternal struggle between the good and evil and reason and sentiment is going on. Considered one of the wonders of European literature, the novel portrays a young man, expelled from the university due to financial deprivation, becoming ensnared in the intricacies of certain abstract theories. To break the impasse, he resolves to murder a lousy, old pawnbroker. After the heinous crime, the protagonist, in order to rejoin the stream of humanity, embraces suffering as an act of expiation.
Key words : Existentialism, Nihilism, Superman Theory, paranoia, schizophrenia, suffering, redemption
Jean Paul
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The deed of atrocity makes him lose his mental equilibrium and plunge into a world of frenzied fantasies. “Did I murder the old woman? I murdered myself, not her!” (Crime and Punishment, 353) He, eventually, is filled with an abominable feeling of self - hatred that stems from his Napoleonic theories. His delirious, semi - oblivious wanderings invite the readers to partake in his agony and terrible despair. Typical of a schizophrenic, he is haunted by hallucinations and occasionally overcome with an urge to confess.
However, despite his intense desire to get rid of his poverty and wretchedness, he fails to gratify his desires even as he deprives the old pawnbroker and her stepsister, Lizaveta of their lives and possessions. Delirious, the protagonist sees and hears someone calling him, “murderer” but desperately clings to his conviction, “I didn’t kill a human being but a principle” (Crime and Punishment, 234). Guilt torments him and he dreams of the old woman who does not die at the repeated blowing of the axe but goes on chuckling
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