The Struggle in Crime and Punishment Essay

1524 Words 7 Pages
The Struggle in Crime and Punishment


Reading this book makes you ill because from the beginning to the end you watch as psychological forces eat away at the thoughts and actions of their victim causing him to finally confess to the hideous crime he has committed. The story is basically the struggle between Raskolnikov's Napoleon-übermensch theory and his conscience which make him confess to his crime. Dostoevsky's genius is in describing how Raskolnikov struggles in his thoughts and actions. His thoughts become increasingly disjointed and desperate and his actions show that he has an increasing need to escape the uncertainty of being convicted, to talk about the crime, to confess, and to suffer for his crime. It is even at times
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He lets the criminal incriminate himself. It's uncanny how Profiry manages to keep Raskolnikov hovering around him until he finally confesses--it's also uncanny to realize how natural it is for Raskolnikov to come under Porfiry's psychological spell. This leads to a central question of the book: are laws just abitrary human constructs or are there psychological laws which govern our behavior in societies. Raskolnikov believes (as he wrote in his article) that people can rise above human laws as Napoleon did, but Profiry (and Dostoevsky) believe otherwise:

What is running away?--it's merely formal; the point isn't that he won't run away because he has nowhere to run to, but that psychologically he won't escape, he, he! What an expression! By a law of his nature he wouldn't escape, even if he had somewhere to escape to. Have you ever seen a moth with a candle? Well, he'll be just like that, he'll circle round me as if I were a candle: Freedom will no longer be a boon to him; he will begin to brood, he will get himself into a muddle, entangle his own feet in a net, and worry himself to death! . . . More than that, he himself will provide me with a mathematical proof, of the nature of two and two make four--if only I allow a long enough interval between the acts of the drama . . . And he'll keep on, keep on circling round me, closer and closer, and then, plop! he'll fly straight into my mouth and…