Morally Ambiguous Characters in Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment

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Often times in literature, we are presented with quintessential characters that are all placed into the conventional categories of either good or bad. In these pieces, we are usually able to differentiate the characters and discover their true intentions from reading only a few chapters. However, in some remarkable pieces of work, authors create characters that are so realistic and so complex that we are unable to distinguish them as purely good or evil. In the novel Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky develops the morally ambiguous characters of Raskolnikov and Svidrigailov to provide us with an interesting read and to give us a chance to evaluate each character. Svidrigailov is one of the most unfathomable characters in Crime …show more content…
Being the protagonist in Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov is subject to most ridicule and analysis for his moral ambiguity and outlandish views. After reading about his dreadful murder of Alyona and Lizaveta Ivanovna, many come to the conclusion that Raskolnikov is purely evil. His lack of guilt and belief of justification for his crime surely points readers in this direction. Raskolnikov remains convinced that he is superior and that it was his duty to kill such a worthless person. Although some may view this as evilness, others may perceive it as downright ignorant. His atypical way of thinking doesn’t necessarily make him evil, but that is how some comprehend it. At certain points in the story, we see Raskolnikov not as a deranged man, but instead as a compassionate human being. After the murder, we see him carrying out various charitable acts, perhaps as an attempt to atone for his unforgivable crime. For example, we see some good in him when he gives Sonya’s family twenty rubbles after Marmeladov passes on. We also see this when he attempts to rescue a drunk girl from a man by giving her money for a taxi. As much as Raskolnikov expresses that he was justified in his actions, through his mental and physical illnesses it is apparent that he feels some guilt about it. This guilt makes him seem at least a little bit more human. For these reasons, when all is said and done, it is difficult to determine