Crime and Punishment


Dear Raskolnikov,

I can’t help but compare your story to that of a great number of films I have seen involving the righteousness of the ‘Good Killer’. As I read Crime and Punishment I thought of Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver”, Hitchcock’s “Rope”, Chaplin’s “Monsieur Verdoux” and Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” as companion pieces to your own story.

The book is an assault on the senses, unpleasant and uncomfortable as we see the story through the eyes of a man who kills. What I found highly interesting was the change in perspective, from the author to Rashkilnov and at mid point when  Raskolnikov shares his horrible truth to Razumikhin in silence changes to first person, who it is I am unsure. Dostoevsky? At the end it is “we” the audience that are the narrators of the story as we leave it.
While I realize that Dostoevsky himself had spent time in Prison with Murderers I can’t help but feel he himself might have killed someone or seriously considered it and spent time meditating on it.

Raskolnikov is too close to the reality of that dreaded feeling that he portrays when he considers murdering the pawn broker, taking the action and dealing with the psychological impact afterwards. It’s an interesting study of human behavior, but one wonders could Raskolnikov really have done it if this were reality, purely focusing and desiring to kill someone might not be enough of a tipping point to murder which Raskolnikov, himself well knows at the beginning of the novel, yet his action undertaken is rash and foolish, perhaps driven by the chance he comes across hearing that the pawnbroker would be alone. Yet in sickness and a delirious state he takes greater risk by fulfilling this act. Today we might consider it to be the act of a schizophrenic. It seems too that while trying to avoid detection by the police he is more than eager to hint at his crimes with an almost childish glee to his friend Razumikhin and Sonia, as if to prove what he is capable of. People cannot commit the act of murder alone without some desire of wanting others to know for what would be the purpose of killing without reason. Raskolnikov tries to fool himself into believing that he is doing it for a greater good while it seems that his true reasoning is that he is doing it because he simply can, he is a man without god but has the power of god by taking a life. Of course it all goes horribly wrong for him as he sloppily kills the old lady and her sister and drives himself almost mad with guilt and fear of reproach which seems to disprove his own theory that some men have the right to kill. It seems as though he doesn’t take his own conscious into account on this theory.

On the whole I felt there are three different points of the character. At first his thinking is cold, calculated, he hates the world, people and wants to remove the bad people. His character is most like that of Travis Bickle of “Taxi Driver”, they each live in their own thoughts, removed from society, with similar views of the world around them thinking how disgusting it is. They both devise ways to conceal their weapon of choice for murder. There is even further similarities when Raskolnikov is trying to help a young drunk girl with torn clothes on the street at the beginning of the story, and his desire to assist Sonia much like Travis who wants to save the young prostitute, Iris, who gets into his cab at the beginning of the film . Both Raskolnikov and Travis find the acts of these women to be beyond terribly yet feel a duty to save them. Neither character can truly cut themselves off from their humanity and compassion.

Raskolnikov’s actual act of killing and justification is like that of  Chaplin’s “Monsieur Verdoux” whom also kills to support his family and at the end of the movie defends his actions in court as his right, saying “As for being a mass killer, does not the world encourage it? Is it not building weapons of destruction for the sole purpose of mass killing? Has it not blown unsuspecting women and little children to pieces? And done it very scientifically? As a mass killer, I am an amateur by comparison

Mid way through Crime and Punishment Raskolnikov seems to take a uturn in his personality. He is much calmer like, intelligent, weaker and more disgusted with himself from his action, he can barely hold up to questioning by Porfery and with what money he has he spends it trying to help Katerina Ivanovna’s family.

By the end I thought the Raskolnikov that we knew at the beginning of the story seemed to have returned yet still much like Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” he is psychologically tormented by his action and wonders whether it is better to kill himself rather than suffer the repercussions of his actions and the anguish that goes with them. he eIn tnd he gives himself up and goes to prison.At first he holds onto his philosophy that he still had the right to kill, gradually it gives way when his focus becomes Sonia and the desire to spend his future with her. At this point we leave the story and as the author says, the story of Raskolnikov and Sonia is for another time to be told. I often feel empty when I finish reading a book, I’m always interested to continue the journey with the character, however I think the point of Raskolnikov life which I read was the most interesting and we won’t see an interesting time like this again for that Character unless he truly is superhuman. My own reflection on it is that he doesn’t survive in Prison as he was rather sickly, he never gets to be with Sonia. However that may not be the important thing. What is important was the fact that his hope of living that future life with her was stronger than his situation and maybe that was all he really needed in the end. No longer a free desperate man alone in his room, now he is a imprisoned man but a hopeful one, a man who is free in his heart.

Favorite Quote: “There is no one, no one in the whole world now so unhappy as you” – Sonia

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