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The Unraveling of Sanity Essay

Guilt as the Cause of Raskolnikov’s Mental Instability in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment Eric Matthew Charles Sheldon 5/22/2013 Word Count: 1650 ? This Written Assignment will delve into the mind of Raskolnikov and show how Raskolnikov’s guilt causes his mental instability. Raskolnikov’s guilt also causes his other physical symptoms. The way Raskolnikov relieves his guilt is by his confession to the police, after the scene in the Hay Market, in which he kisses the ground.

Raskolnikov’s guilt stems from the confliction of his humanity with the atrocity that he committed when he murdered “‘the old pawnbroker woman and her sister Lizaveta with an axe and robbed them. ’” (Dostoevsky 526). Raskolnikov was motivated not only by his greed and lust for money, but by many other factors. Raskolnikov was “crushed by poverty” (Dostoevsky 1) and was barely able to buy food. Another motivation for Raskolnikov was his idea that he is a “superman” and that he was allowed, even supposed, to harm others and kill for the good of society.

These factors: greed, hunger, the idea of “supermen” etc. all contributed to the fall of Raskolnikov. The idea that Raskolnikov is a superman comes from his time at university where he wrote a paper called “On Crime. ” Raskolnikov believes that society has been “somewhat arbitrarily” divided into two groups, the ordinary and the extraordinary. Raskolnikov believes that the duty of the “ordinary” is to be like sheep, the society its self. The second group, the “extraordinary” are those who are better, a step above the rest.

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They have the ability and the responsibility to overstep morals and disregard the rights of the “ordinary. ” The “Supermen” have a duty to society to break whatever laws and restrictions that apply to the “ordinary” to better the society as a whole. Raskolnikov labels Napoleon as one of these “Supermen”. He tells us that Napoleon had the right to kill all of the men that he did because he was “extraordinary. ” The “Supermen” had the right to deprive the “ordinaries” of all their right even if it meant killing innocent men.

Raskolnikov’s guilt manifests its self as his mental instability through his dreams. The dreams also allow the reader to dive into the subconscious of Raskolnikov. The dreams add to the development of Raskolnikov’s character. Raskolnikov’s first dream in the novel shows his first mental issue: Raskolnikov’s split personality. Mikolka is one piece of Raskolnikov, “Raskol” meaning fractured, Mikolka represents Raskolnikov’s cruelty, while the little boy in the dream represents Raskolnikov’s niceness and morality.

Mikolka wants an old mare to pull a cart full of six people. Mikolka knows that the horse will not be able to do so. Mikolka starts beating the horse vigorously with a whip in the eyes to try to get her to move the cart. Mikolka doesn’t care at all about the pain he causes to the poor mare. Mikolka thinks that torturing and killing the mare is not a bad thing, like Raskolnikov believes that the murder of Alyona Ivanovna is not bad because he is a “Superman. Mikolka doesn’t see the horse as important, like Raskolnikov sees others as merely “ordinaries. ” Raskolnikov sees Alyona as someone that the world would be better off without. Raskolnikov’s guilt also has physical symptoms, Raskolnikov has been: weak, pale, tired, forgetful, panicked, forgetful and subject to fainting spells ever since he killed Alyona and Lizaveta Ivanovna. Works Cited Dostoevsky, Fydor. Crime and Punishment. Trans. Constance Gartnett. New York: Random House, 2003. Print.

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