Importance of St. Petersburg in Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment

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Importance of St. Petersburg in Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment

Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment explores the dangerous effects of St. Petersburg, a malignant city, on the psyche of the impoverished student Raskolnikov. In this novel, Petersburg is more than just a backdrop. The city plays a central role in the development of the characters and the actions that they take. Raskolnikov survives in one of the cramped, dark spaces that are characteristic of Petersburg. These spaces are like coffins; they suffocate Raskolnikov's mind. St. Petersburg creates a grotesque environment in which Raskolnikov can not only create the "Overman Theory," but he can also carry it out by murdering a pawnbroker in cold blood, then
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According to the Overman Theory, extraordinary people have the responsibility to transgress the laws of society to bring about a greater good. Raskolnikov applies the Arithmetic of Morality to the Overman Theory, and he concludes that an extraordinary person is the one who should save the hundred people, even if he has to commit murder in the process. Raskolnikov’s cramped, isolated spaces allow him to not only accept these theories as true, but he is able to take them a step further in believing that he is one of these extraordinary people. The spaces that Raskolnikov inhabits close in on him; the physical spaces restrict his body. This tears apart his psyche. Just as he cannot escape the grotesque spaces in Petersburg to find solitude, Raskolnikov’s ideas continue to bounce around in his mind until he has thought about them so much that they make sense. The ideas become so distorted in this process that it is possible for Raskolnikov to convince himself that he is an Overman, an extraordinary person. This implies that in the greater interest of society he is obligated to commit murder.

Petersburg is a city where the poor exist in cramped, dark spaces that distort Raskolnikov's thought patterns and keep him from finding peace. In ordinary circumstances, a home is a place of sanctuary from the rest of the world. It is the place where one can retreat to and find peace. Raskolnikov has no sanctuary. His room is not a place of peace, but instead a
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