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Crime and Punichment by Dostoevsky

In real life humans are multidimensional not only physically but also in their actions and emotions.  Majority of the time when it comes to any form of entertainment being it movies, plays, or books, the characters are flat, one dimensional.  You don’t get a sense of who they really are, the author in his writings portrays him in a certain light.  Could be portrayed has the good guy, bad guy, or just your average man on the street.  But Raskolnikov in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment is displayed with more then one persona. His range of actions and emotions is almost unheard of, he is a Dr. Jekyl, Mr. Hyde type character.  For Raskolnikov has some very extremes ranging from the kind, compassionate, caring side he displays towards Sonia to the murderous, selfish, materialistic side in killing Alyona and Lizaveta Ivanovna. There are many other instances where Raskolnikov shows his colors other then committing the murders and his relationship with Sonia.  His first dream along with, revisiting the crime sight contrasted with his reaction to finding Marmelodov run over in the street, both showcase his different sides.  Raskolnikov can also be compared to a current event, that being the happenings in Littleton, Colorado.

You would think that a swing in attitude and emotion that Raskolnikov has would follow a deep impacting event, like the murders of the Ivanovna sisters.  This is not the case though, even before the horrendous crimes he commits, you can see him sway from one side to the other.  This is prevalent during and after his first dream.  The dream is of a man brutally beating to death a horse.  Raskolnikov is a child in the dream and like every child would is concerned and worried for the well being of the animal, for the mare is old and being asked to do something it is incapable of doing.  The dream continuously gets worse and he ends up screaming and chasing after the owner of the horse, once he has killed it.  While his father is trying to comfort him he awakes from the dream, and after standing up in horror says, “Thank God, that was only a dream.”  Then he questions what the dream represents; trying to figure out if it is a premonition of him killing the old lady, Alyona Ivanovna.  He cries “Good God!  Can it be, can it be, that I shall really take an axe, that I shall strike her on the head, split her skull open”  Raskolnikov then argues that he could never commit such a horrible crime saying, “yesterday I realised completely that I could never bear to do it Why am I going over it again, then?yesterday, I said to myself that it was base, loathsome, vile, vile the very thought of it made me feel sick and filled me with horror.”  Goes on to say, “I couldn’t do it!  Why, why then am I still?”

The dream and the following conversation with himself displays the two sides of Raskolnikov.  He is arguing both sides, of why he could or could not commit the murder.  It is like a scene from a cartoon where there is a devil on one shoulder of the character and an angel on the other.  Raskolnikov has these thoughts fighting in his head.  The child caring and showing concern for the ill-fated animal reflects the caring side that is present in him.  It shows that he is not a cold-hearted killer that is depicted by the owner of the mare.  Upon waking though his thoughts turn to the possibility of killing Alyona.  This is a representation of his murderous half looking to improve his standard of living by taking another’s life.  The two sides of his mind are fighting wanting him to make the correct decision with each side having its pros and cons.  The compassionate side gives one last futile attempt to set Raskolnikov straight when he prays “Lord, show me my path-I renounce that accursed dream of mine.”
The events leading up to Raskolnikov’s return to the scene of the crime and his visit are of great contrast to his actions towards Marmelodov and his family, after Marmelodov is run over in the street.  With the immediacy of the scenes Dostoevsky is able to exhibit the vast differences within Raskolnikov’s character.

Raskolnikov is wondering all about the city after he awakens from a bout of delirium.  He is in search of information on the crime that he has committed, especially after finding out that there was an arrest of someone for it.  Along with wanting more information he talks of turning himself into the police and ending the situation.  Upon entering the Palais de Cristal, a restaurant, Raskolnikov notices Zametov another room who is a friend of his.  In conversation with Zametov he almost confesses to him numerous times.  Raskolnikov is paranoid of the questions he is being asked and in some cases not asked, thinking that Zametov already knows he is the murderer of two innocent ladies.

When he does answer Zametov he is defensive, but displays his guiltiness.  When asked if he was reading about the fires in the paper “No…But confess now, my dear fellow, you’re awfully anxious to know what I am reading about.” Raskolnikov answers.  Later before storming off in a bit of rage he says “twenty-five roubles.  Where did I get them?You know I had not a copeck.  You’ve cross-examined my landlady.  I’ll be bound” dropping hints of his guilt.

Arriving at the crime scene Raskolnikov shows his same lunatic self-centered side that he showed Zametov.  He just walks into the flat where he killed two innocent ladies, and finds two men fixing it up.  When questioned about who he is and what he wants Raskolnikov gives the impression that he is mad.  In doing so he comes close to disclosing that he murdered the two ladies.  He says many things that would link him to the crime, “Is there no bloodthe old women and her sister were murdered here.  There was a perfect pool there”.  Also tells the men to follow him to the police station where they will find out the truth, along with telling a porter his name and residencey.  With this and the conversation with Zametov, Raskolnikov wants to get caught so he can be punished for being the selfish, materialistic being that he is.  But only in a matter of moments his thoughts turn to the scene of a horrible accident.

After heading off for the police station he comes across an accident where someone has been run over by a carriage in the middle of the road.  Pushing his way through the crowd he comes to see that he knows the man that is seriously injured, it is Marmelodov.  He told the police that were present who it was and then led a group of people taking Marmelodov to his apartment.  Arriving at the apartment he turns to Katerina, Marmelodov’s wife, and said, “be calm, don’t be frightened!  he will come to, I told them to bring him hereI’ve been here already, you remember?  He will come to; I’ll pay!  I’ve sent for a doctor.”  And later after Marmelodov passes away he gives the family twenty-five roubles, everything that he has. Giving everything he has away does not bother him at all.  In a matter of moments Raskolnikov goes from his self-interested greedy half to the concerned compassionate being that he displays from time to time.  When he is the soft caring side he seems to forget about himself and worries for others around him.  If he would have been in one of his stints of thinking about himself he would have never have given up his last rouble with out worrying where he was going to get more.

Raskolnikov can also be compared to the recent happenings in Littleton, Colorado.  Where two students terrorized their high school.  The students for the most part seemed to be carefree not able to hurt a single person to the people around them.  They were quite and kept to themselves not relieving that they could perform such a terrible act, but there were a few signs that could have predicted what they have done.  Raskolnikov is similar in he comes across as a gentle caring person, especially to the people closes to him like his mother Pulcheria and sister Dounia.  When he is around others though he shows signs of his other side.  Like in talking to Zametov and the workers when he revisited the crime sight.  Though he does not display that he could commit the crime prior to it he does afterwards.  One other difference is that Raskolnikov even though at first avoids it eventually accepts the punishment he deserves for his actions.  Were the two students took their own lives and did not have take the punishment that they rightfully should have.  The punishment being having to live knowing that you have done an unthinkable crime.

Dostoevsky represents Raskolnikov’s different attitudes very well throughout Crime and Punishment.  Dostoevsky goes as far as having his closes friend Razumihin and his mother mention how his emotions sways.  Razumihin in telling her about her son the last three years says “does not like showing his feelingsit’s as though he were alternating between two characters”  And in response she says “how moody and, so to say, capricious he is.  I never could depend on what he would do when he was only fifteen.  And would do something now that nobody else would think of doing” The characters in the novel add to Raskolnikov’s dimensions by commenting on his character.  Just like in every day life people act different from time to time.  There are moments when you want to be by yourself and worry only about oneself, but other times you want to be around as many people as possible and willing to help no matter what the situation.  Raskolnikov sits alone in his room delirious when worrying and thinking about what he should do.  When out and roaming the city he is willing to help others without even thinking.  Raskolnikov is a rare character; his multidimensional personality shows the complete human spirit from the pleasant to the evil.

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