Analysis of Raskolnikov's Character in Crime And Punishment

"So absorbed in himself had he grown, so isolated from everyone else, that he was actually afraid of meeting anyone at all, not simply his landlady. He had been crushed by poverty; but even his reduced circumstances had of late ceased to be a burden to him. His vital interests no longer concerned him; he did not even wish to think about them. As a matter of fact, no landlady on Earth had the power to make him afraid, whatever she might be plotting against him.

But to have to stop on the stairs and listen to all that mediocre rubbish that had nothing whatsoever to do with him, all those pestering demands for payment, those threats and complaints, an be compelled in response to shift his ground, make excuses, tell lies- no, it was better to slink down the stairs like a cat and steal away unseen by anyone. As he emerged onto the street on this occasion, however, his terror of meeting his creditress shocked even him.

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'I plan to attempt a thing like this, yet I allow that kind of rubbish to scare me.

'"(1. 1. 5-6) This illuminates aspects of Raskolnikov's character, particularly his qualities of being prideful, contemptuous, and emotionally detached from society. It also, is when the audience is first given a glimpse that Raskolnikov is planning to commit murder. Raskolnikov thinks very highly of himself and believes others to be inferior because of the living conditions people subject themselves to. This is due to how the neighborhood is described as being filthy and full of chaos, further in the novel.

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Although, he also resides in the same neighborhood as his "inferiors" he justifies his condescension with that fact that he dose not choose to live here and that it is simply all he can afford at the time. The isolation he describes is what allows him to dream of committing heinous acts, which eventually, leads him to be so engrossed with his crazed dreams that he loses his touch on reality. His pride enables him to be contemptuous towards others, his lack of human contact leads him to increasingly abstract and inhuman ideas, and these ideas cause him to separate himself from society. Setting-

"Outside the heat was terrible, with humidity to make it worse; and the crowds of people, the slaked lime everywhere, the scaffolding, the bricks, the dust and that distinctive summer aroma, so familiar to every inhabitant of St. Petersburg who has not the means to rent a dacha in the country - all these things had a shattering effect on the young man's already jangled nerves. The unbearable stench from the drinking dens, of which there are in this quarter of the city inordinately many, and the drunks he kept running into every moment or two, even though it was still working hours, completed the sad and loathsome coloring of the scene.

An emotion of the most profound repugnance flickered for a moment in the young man's features. " (1. 1. 6) This tells us about the setting, by using a historic event of a heat wave. The "terrible heat" also alludes back to the first sentence in the novel "At the beginning of July, during a spell of exceptionally hot weather," which allows the reader to deduce that the novel takes place during a heat wave in Russia, in the summer. There is a footnote that is also used in the novel to help further the understanding of the time period of the novel.

The footnote states "The action of Crime and Punishment takes place in the summer of 1865, which in St. Petersburg was an exceptionally hot one. " Through the imagery Raskolnikov's character gives it can be inferred that St. Petersburg at the time is filthy, everything is in disarray, and it is crowded. From the actions of the citizens getting drunk instead of working suggests that the neighborhood Raskolnikov lives in is a very poor area because everyone is drinking their money away.

"It is my view that if the discoveries of Kepler and Newton could not on any account, as a result of certain complex factors, have become known to people other than by means of sacrificing the life of one person, the lives of ten, a hundred or even more persons, who were trying to interfere with those discoveries or stand as an obstacle in their path, then Newton would have had the right, and would even have been obliged... to get rid of those ten or a hundred persons, in order to make his discoveries known to all mankind.

" (3. 5. 308-309) This section tells us about the setting, particularly by describing an article that Raskolnikov wrote that contains a philosophical position that developed in Russia in the eighteen-fifties and eighteen-sixties. The ideas expressed in the article have strong ties to nihilism. Nihilism rejected the traditional bonds of family and society as well as emotional and aesthetic concerns in favor of a strict materialism promoting the idea that there is no mind or soul outside of the physical world.

A theory of nihilism was utilitarianism which is the idea that actions are moral as long as they work toward the greatest possible happiness for the largest number of people. Character development (minor character) - "Raskolnikov did not miss a single word and learned everything in one go: Lizaveta was the old woman's younger half sister (they had different mothers), and she was thirty-five years old. She worked for her sister day and night, performed the functions of cook and washerwoman in the household, and, in addition, did sewing which she sold, and even hired herself out to scrubs floors, giving all that she earned to her sister.

She did not dare take a single order or accept a single job of work without the old woman's consent. Another thing was that the old woman had already made her will, a fact that was known to Lizaveta, who did not stand to inherit a single copeck, just the old woman's personal effects, some chairs and so forth; all the money had been earmarked for distribution to a certain monastery in the province of N - , in return for the eternal remembrance of her soul.

Lizaveta had retained her petty-bourgeois origins, unlike her sister, who had married into the civil service; she had not married, and was terribly awkward, of remarkable height, with great long almost bawdy-looking legs, always with down-at-heel goatskin shoes on her feet, and she paid especial attention to her cleanliness. " (1. 6. 79) This passage develops Lizaveta's Character, particularly by how she is seen by others and the rumors of how she is treated by Alyona. From the passage it can be inferred that Lizaveta is meek, mild, and compliant which enables for Alyona abuse her.

It is said later on that Alyona bit Lizaveta's finger out of meanness, so the threat of being more than just mentally abused frightens her into being acquiescent to her sister's demands. The severity of the line "She did not dare take a single order or accept a single job of work without the old woman's consent" supports how much she fears being disobedient to her sister. It is these fears that paralyze Lizaveta from standing up for herself and benefiting from her own labors.

Through this section Lizaveta's life is viewed as a hardship and they only one who benefits from her hard work is her sister. By the way Lizaveta is described it can be inferred that she has very low self-esteem which is why she puts up with how she is being treated and never got married. Character Development (Antagonist) - "'What if it were I who murdered Lizaveta and the old woman? ' he said suddenly and - recovered his grip. Zamyotov stared at him wildly for an instant and turned as pale as a sheet. His face distorted by a smile. 'Is this really possible?

' he said in a voice that could scarcely be heard. Raskolnikov gave him a look of malicious hostility. " (2. 6. 199) This passage further develops Raskolnikov's character, particularly by showing his impulsiveness that almost leads him to confessing for the crimes he has committed. He is his own antagonist because he is constantly fighting with his own conscience with his desire to evade suspicion of being the murderer. The battle of his guilty conscience and his misdeeds is so great that it drives Raskolnikov to the point of delirium.

It is in this state of delirium that Raskolnikov is influenced to "fake" a confession to see if he is even suspected of the murder. By Raskolnikov's only interest being to talk about the murders Zamyotov becomes a little suspicious of him. These impulses later in the chapter lead him to the scene of the crime where he almost confesses again leaving the workmen suspicious of him. Through these dangerous and impulsive actions police suspicion is aroused, and is the apparatus in his own downfall thus, making him his own worst enemy.

Updated: Nov 15, 2022
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Analysis of Raskolnikov's Character in Crime And Punishment. (2020, Jun 01). Retrieved from

Analysis of Raskolnikov's Character in Crime And Punishment essay
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