There are many links between Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and A Doll’s House, by Henrik Isben. Each character goes through many ironic situations. Throughout both of the works all three types of irony are used. In this essay irony is going to be used to link the two works together. Dramatic, situational, and verbal irony are going to be used to link the two works together.
Dramatic irony is used throughout Crime and Punishment. The reader knows that Rodion Romanovitch Raskolnikov killed the pawnbroker, Alyona Ivanovna, and her sister, Lizaveta Ivanovna. A quote to support this is,
“He took the axe right out, swung it up in both hands, barely conscious of what he was doing, and almost without effort, almost effort, almost mechanically, brought the butt of it down on the old woman’s head.” (Dostoyevsky 114)
No one in the novel knows who killed the pawnbroker and her sister except for Raskolnikov. The police officer, Porfiry Petrovitch, suspects that Raskolnikov killed the pawnbroker and her sister but he cannot prove it.
The reader also knows that Luzhin puts money in Sofya Semyonovna Marmeladov’s pocket when she is not looking. After Sofya, whose nickname is Sonia, finishes talking to Luzhin she leaves. Sonia has no idea that Luzhin has put money into her pocket. Raskolnikov’s friend, Andrei Semyonovitch Lebezyatnikov, was present when all of that takes place. “All of this was observed by Andrei Semyonovich.” (Dostoyevsky 460) Luzhin goes to a reception for Sonia’s father, Semyon Zakharovitch Marmeladov, and announces that Sonia is a thief. Sonia immediately denies the accusation.
Luzhin tells her to look in her pocket. Sure enough the money that he was missing was there. Luzhin wants Sonia to marry him but she does not love him. Luzhin plans to blackmail Sonia into marrying him. Lebezyatnikov steps in to save the day when he says, “I saw it. I saw it…. And even though it’s against my convictions, I would be prepared to swear to it on oath in any court of law you’d care to name, because I saw how you slipped it into her pocket on the sly!” (Dostoyevsky 465)
A Doll’s House also contains many examples of dramatic irony. In A Doll’s House the reader is aware that Nora borrowed money from Krogstad without her husband’s permission. Nora also forged her father’s name to gain the money. She says, “You don’t know all. I forged a name.” (Isben 44) In the following conversation between Nora and Christine it is clearly stated that Torvald does not know of Nora’s actions: “Mrs. Linde. And since then have you never told your secret to your husband? Nora. Good heavens, no!” (Isben 13)
Another example of dramatic irony in A Doll’s House is when Nora wants to practice a dance called the Tarantella. When Torvald goes to look in the letter box Nora says, “Torvald please don’t. There is nothing in there.” (Isben 46) The reader knows that Nora has not forgotten the dance. The reader knows this when Torvald goes to check the mail and Nora begins to play the Tarantella. Nora then says, “I can’t dance to-morrow if I don’t practise with you.” (Isben 46) The reader knows that all Nora is trying to do is keep Torvald from reading the mail which contains a letter from Krogstad.
Situational irony is also used throughout the two works. In Crime and Punishment Raskolnikov is the one who murdered the two sisters. It was totally unexpected when Nikolai came to the police office and said, “I’m the guilty one! The sin is mine! I’m the murderer!” (Dostoyevsky 413) The reader did not expect Nikolai to confess to the two murders because the reader knows that Raskolnikov is the one who murdered the two sisters. Porfiry did not expect Nikolai to confess either. He was positive that Raskolnikov had murdered the pawnbroker and her sister.
It is also ironic when Raskolnikov goes to the police station and says, “What if it were I who murdered Lizaveta and the old woman?” (Dostoyevsky 211) Zamyotov just sits back and smiles. Raskolnikov then says, “Admit that you believed me! You did didn’t you?” (Dostoyevsky 211) “Of course I didn’t! And now I believe you even less!” (Dostoyevsky 211) The reader expects Zamyotov to do his job and arrest Raskolnikov when he confesses to the murders. Letting Raskolnikov is a surprise to everyone including himself.
In A Doll’s House there are also examples of situational irony. An example of situational irony is when Nora leaves Torvald. There is no hint that Nora is going to leave Torvald until the end of the book. At the beginning of the book she acts as if she loves him very much. Not until she says, “Or if anything else should happen to me-anything, for instance, that might prevent me from being here-” (Isben 45) does anyone think about Nora leaving Torvald. At the end of the play she calls Torvald a “stranger” and walks out.
The reader does not expect Mrs. Linde and Krogstad to have been get married. The reader does not even know that they are friends. When Christine, Mrs. Linde, says, “Nils, how would it be if we two shipwrecked people could join forces.” (Isben 51) The reader finds out that Christine and Krogstad need each other. No one expects Christine to want to be with Krogstad because he has been corrupt in the past. But Christine also knew and loved Krogstad in the past.
Raskolnikov says many ironic things throughout the novel. When he is trying to confess to Zamyotov he says, “All ears upstairs?”(Dostoyevsky 207) He really does not mean if Zamyotov’s ears are physically upstairs. He is asking Zamyotov if he is listening to what he is saying. He just wants Zamyotov to listen carefully to what he is about to say.
After Raskolnikov receives a letter from his mother he says, “Because the whole thing is perfectly clear.” (Dostoyevsky 74) The letter is not clear or opaque. Raskolnikov understands the letter completely. He is able to see what his mother is trying to say in the letter. He says, “No, mother, no, Dunya, you won’t full me!” (Dostoyevsky 74) He realizes that his mom and sister are trying to fool him in the letter.
Verbal irony is also present in A Doll’s House. When Helmer says, “Is that my little skylark twittering out there?” (Isben 3) He is not really asking if Nora is a bird. He is not even saying that she is twittering like a bird. He is just asking if it is his wife, Nora, and if she is saying something. When Torvald Helmer says, “Is it my little squirrel bustling about?” (Isben 4) He does not think that Nora is a squirrel either.
Nora has her share of verbal irony too. When she is sitting down talking to Mrs. Linde she says, “There now, it is burning up.” (Isben 15) The place is not literally burning up. The house is not on fire. Nora is just stating that the temperature inside the house is hot. Nora then gets up and, “Shuts the door of the stove and moves the rocking-chair aside.” (Isben 15)
All three types of irony are used throughout the two works. Crime and Punishment and A Doll’s House would be incomplete without irony. Irony plays an important role in any type of literature. Irony is used to help show the opposite of what is actually said and/or done. I think that without irony there would be no literature. I think that literature would be boring and plain if there was no irony to add to its originality and creativity.