Contrast and Duality in "Crime and Punishment" Analytical Essay by Nicky

An analysis of the themes of duality and contrast in Fyodor Dostoevsky's novel "Crime and Punishment".
# 150019 | 823 words | 0 sources | 2012 | US
Published on Jan 19, 2012 in Literature (Russian)

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The paper points out several contrasts in the novel "Crime and Punishment" by Fyodor Dostoevsky between the physical nature of the crime and the psychological nature of the punishment, between action and thought, between religion and philosophy, between solitude and interpersonal connections and between knowledge and ignorance. The paper also highlights the duality in the novel concerning the concept of morality itself.

From the Paper:

"The relationship between thought and action also relates to the contrast between religion and philosophy. The first is built on faith, tradition, and community, whereas the latter is built on logic, doubt and questioning, and is highly individual. Raskolnikov embodies the philosophical mind, while Sonia embodies the more religious spirit. The contrast between philosophy and religion is key to the concepts of immorality and redemption in the novel; though Sonia is forced to prostitute herself, her religious convictions leave her appearing as a fully righteous character and promise eventual redemption. Raskolnikov attempts to subscribe to a philosophy that excuses and even exalts his crime, but is tormented by guilt and is convinced he deserves damnation. The epilogue even hints that Sonia is a direct cause of his worldly salvation, as her presence in the town leads to a lightened workload for the prisoner (Dostoevsky Epilogue I).
"There is a certain duality in the novel even concerning the concept of morality itself. It is somewhat ironic that, although Dostoevsky seems to suggest that a pure faith is more useful than a muddied philosophy, he uses Crime and Punishment to elucidate his own philosophy of morality through the various contrasting events in the novel that explore the topic. Morality seems to be determined by motive far more than action; even the original murder of Alyona Ivanovna is displayed as somewhat acceptable; it is motivated by productive intentions and carried out purposefully. But "fear gained more and more mastery" over Raskolnikov after the "second, quite unexpected murder" (Dostoevsky I.7). This murder is even more immoral because it has no purpose beyond simply concealing the first murder. It is unplanned and unreasoned, and that is one of the main reasons it is the more immoral of the murders."

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