Religion as Societal Conformity in Crime and Punishment Essay

1038 Words 5 Pages
The central theme of Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky deals with conformity’s role in society. Dostoyevsky uses conformity to make Raskolnikov mentally ill and eventually turn himself in to face the punishment for his crimes. Religion influences every character in the book, but none more ardently than Raskolnikov. Understanding religion’s role as a force for conformity in Crime and Punishment provides a powerful insight into character motives and, furthermore, philosophical influences. The first thing to address while discussing the author’s purpose is to examine the motivation of the main character, Raskolnikov. In Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov becomes an ubermensch, and part of this is that he does not take into account …show more content…
He uses every means to justify his actions, but something is holding that guilt there. That something is undoubtedly religion. In order to understand Raskolnikov’s guilt, it is important to understand the religious influences at work in the time period and place he lived in. In St. Petersburg where Raskolnikov lives, there are strong Christian influences from the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Church condemns killing people with few exceptions. Although is not a devout believer, these influences are still at work in the book. It is clear that Raskolnikov is struggling to fight God away because, as he says that “once God’s will gets mixed up in it, nothing will be done” (389). He acknowledges that the guilt he has is God’s doing, and he struggles internally to get rid of it. The idea that he is not able to feel good about the murder that he knows improved society. He states that “what bothers [him] is this permission according to conscience” (253). Even though he wants to establish his own moral code, it is impossible for him to do so because of the influence of religion.
By not following the rules established by Christianity, Raskolnikov is essentially making himself God, which is an internal struggle throughout the novel because Raskolnikov feels guilty about it. Although he commits murder, which is impermissible in a religious and societal context, Raskolnikov actually saw some value in religion. It is for
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