I think the feverish state Raskolnikov is in during chapter two and three of part two helps to portray my theory of Dostoevsky writing this as a kind of satire on the Superman Theory. "Someone always prevented him by force" (page 112), displaying Raskolnikov's weakness and inability to really be the extraordinary man he believes himself to be.
I think that your idea is incredibly interesting and I see your point, however, I respectfully disagree. If Dostoevsky is in fact writing the novel as a satire, what then does Sonia signify? I realize you say that he is satirizing the Superman Theory specifically, but if he assumes that man cannot be extraordinary – ever – then what is the point of writing a novel with such strength in its theme of salvation? To assume that the novel was written with a nihilistic (or even slightly communist) slant to it is to assume that Dostoevsky is asking what is the point of living? Of failing? Or being saved?
I think that we must take the work in full. I know we also talked about how maybe he could be satirizing Raskolnikov’s initial idea of what it is to be extraordinary, and not what he finds it to be by the end, though even then I think that to do that would be to assume that Raskolnikov’s sin, mental crises, and essentially his emotions are lacking resonance and that that undermines the potency and worth of human feeling as well as the struggle towards good. If it was not necessary for Raskolnikov to commit the crime in order to find Sonia/salvation/true brilliance, then why have him commit it? Is there not something exceptionally and unusually extraordinary about Raskolnikov’s story and his development? Are the before and after not reliant upon one another? And why would Dostoevsky craft such a layered, obviously loved, and symbolic character in Sonia?
I was thinking about you saying it was nihilistic, and I don't really agree with that side of it. Because he wrote this novel after serving hard time in Siberia where he supposedly became more religious, I think him satirizing the Superman theory is more of a religious angle than a nihilistic angle. I think he's trying to prove that no man can be extraordinary because God already is.
I have not fully decided where Sonia stands in all of this, but I am working on that side of the argument. I don't know why Dostoevsky would begin with an angle like this, because there is evidence to suggest that's what he's doing, and not continue it.
Also, how can you say that Raskolnikov had to commit the crime to find Sonia? His connection to Marmeldov and his death had nothing to do with the pawnbroker's murder. I also disagree that he found true brilliance by murdering someone. I grant that he is extremely intelligent, but he is still a killer. Nothing changes that. How does the murder of one supposedly despicable woman (do we really know if Raskolnikov is a reliable source?) label someone a extraordinary man, not to mention that he killed her sister as well when her mistreatment was one of his supposed reasons to "justify" the original murder.
What you said about seeing it from a religious angle makes more sense. But, I do think that the point is that God makes man brilliant, not that God is so extraordinary on his own that man will only fail. I do not believe that Dostoevksy thought man's struggle to be in any way small or unimportant, as that line of thinking as well as calling C&P a satire would imply.
Also, Sonia and the murder of the old woman do rely on one another. Maybe not in literal terms or plot wise, but figuratively (which is what matters), Raskolnikov most definitely had to be a murderer and go through a state of madness in order to understand what it meant to be saved. I didn't say that killing the old woman was right or that it was extraordinary thing to do, I meant that without sin, redemption would hold no weight. You can't cut humanity into such clean little parts by saying that sin and salvation are two separate entities of life when really they are what define each other.
Excellent debates already….
I have to say, I'm torn between these two theories…I may have you two run a debate….
I find Sonia very interesting. She is a able to fulfill her job as a prostitute, yet when she visits Raskolnikov she is unable to look the people in the eye. And its not that she is in her profession by choice but it was the only way to save her family. She sacrificed so that they would be able to survive. She always does for others and she doesn't think about getting herself out of that profession because she is focus on getting her family on better standings. She always talks about people in a better light than some of them deserve and the only person she tears down is herself. She is self-sacrificing to an extreme. And the only safe haven for her is the bible, to her it is something that is completely hers.
With Crime and Punishment being written in the mid 1860's and the philosophy of English Utilitarianism gaining strength in Russia around that time, it is very probable that aspects of the philosophy made it's way into Dostoevsky's novel.
The most prominent theory behind Utilitarianism is the goal of maximizing happiness and reducing suffering, which is how Raskolnikov justifies the murder of the the old pawnbroker as well as her younger sister Lizaveta. He attempts to convince himself that by killing her, he will be ridding the world of a corrupted and despicable old woman as well as reducing the the suffering of those who deal with her, particularly Lizaveta. However, by Raskolnikov being forced to kill Lizaveta, Dostoevsky conveys the extreme irony in Raskolnikov's justification. Thus, it can be assumed that if he purposely incorporated the philosophy of Utilitarianism it was for a mocking and satirical purpose.
Another important component of English Utilitarianism is the idea that every individual is responsible for his or her own welfare. Raskolnikov borrows from this in his article over the extraordinary man with one distinction. The ordinary man is not to choose what is best for himself, but it is practically the extraordinary man's duty to decide what is best for his welfare as well as all the ordinary man's welfare by being revolutionary and of the "new world" (page ).
This distinction between the ordinary and extraordinary also relates to the Nihilistic Utilitarians who believed that there was a distinction between the weak and the strong. They also believed that the strong had a right to trample over the weak, which Raskolnikov twists into his right to murder the old woman.
Tolstoy and Dostoevsky -
Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, who are two of the most renown Russian authors and are often compared, had many similarities. Their lives as well as their work mirrored each other in certain ways. They both were exiled, both experienced multiple periods of existential crises, traveled Europe, and had gambling problems. Their novels are also similar, not only in their use of a wide array of characters and extremely long novels that are almost epics, but in the themes they both wrote on. They both wrote about the differences in class in nineteenth century Russia, the difference between what is proper and improper, defiance of things accepted as common or normal, and also both realistically and exceptionally convey human characterization. They were both criticized while alive, and Tolstoy was even excommunicated from the Orthodox church.
However, critics as well as readers today widely consider Tolstoy great, and there is almost no evidence of criticism, while Crime and Punishment remains one of the most opposed and frequently "banned" books of our century. Dostoevsky does of course have many supporters, but he also has many who consider his writing "of middling talent" and just simplistic parables trying to convince readers of morality. Or, his work is deemed inappropriate because of the subject matter through which he conveys his ideas (Sonia being a prostitute and Raskolnikov being a murderer).
The real distinction between the two authors, and what causes people to react differently towards them, is the that while Tolstoy uses a love story and the POV of the rich, making his story seem grand, sweeping, complex but still romantic, Dostoevsky takes an approach so psychological, exhausting, and morally ambiguous that it is harder to interpret and less enjoyable to read. He uses madness and murder to reach salvation, all three of which humanity has a harder time accepting than love. Both question right and wrong, and proper and improper, and do so excellently, but Dostoevsky is alone in questioning truth and reality itself.
Mathematics in Relation to Crime and Punishment
For our situation we will be using a differentiation method to find the function of a derivative to parallel with Raskolnikov’s (Ras) life. Our mission in the equation f(x)=x^3 +2x is to find y and in the novel the y is the end of the novel- how Ras problems resolve and come together. To solve our problem we have to multiply ∆x by our problem and we now have the equations f(x+ ∆x)= (x+∆x)^3 + 2(x+ ∆x). And this is where Ras’s situation begins when he kills the two women, and his problem expands due to mental trauma. To solve the problem we have to further expand the equation. The first part of the equation requires an additional equation to be solved and is not able to be solved without it, but the second part expands into 2x+2∆x. That portion is Razumikhin’s addition to Ras’s life. And Sonia is the equation that enables Ras’s first portion of the problem to be solved. (a+b)^3 =(a+b) (a+b) (a+b) is Sonia, which when expanded and simplified becomes a^3 + 3a^2b + 3ab^2 + b^3 which is who she truly is on the inside without her outward prostitution appearance, you see her as self-sacrificing and humble. When applied to Ras’s life the equation expands to become x^3 + 3x^2 ∆x + 3x∆x^2 + ∆x^3. Then you add all the portions of the equation together and it becomes x^3 + 3x^2 ∆x + 3x∆x^2 + ∆x^3 +2x+2∆x, the beneficial parts of his life. Then the limit has to be applied, which is the act of being misled and caught by Porfiry and others. Our limit is lim/(∆x→0) so (f(x+ ∆x)- f(x))/ ∆x. Therefore our equation becomes (x^3 + 3x^2 ∆x + 3x∆x^2 + ∆x^3 +2x+2∆x –x^3 – 2x)/ ∆x. So the x^3‘s and the 2x’s will cancel out. During this process different things in Ras’s life resolve and come about. Then we are left with (3x^2 ∆x + 3x∆x^2 + ∆x^3 +2∆x )/ ∆x. Then we take out the ∆x from the top of the equation to become ∆x(3x^2 + 3x∆x + ∆x^2 +2 )/ ∆x, and the ∆x’s cancel out leaving you with (3x^2 + 3x∆x + ∆x^2 +2 ). Now we finish applying our limit, which is lim/ (∆x→0). When plug in our 0’s this is when Ras is released from prison and resolves the rest of the problems within his life, leaving us with the finished product, y= 3x^2 + 2.
Dr. Mikhail Dostoyevsky-
Dostoevsky's father, Mikhail, was a former army doctor who worked at a hospital for poor people when Dostoevsky was born. He was known to be a huge tyrant in the household and very stern with his children and servants. Shortly after Maria Dostoevsky's (mother's) death in 1837, Mikhail died in 1839. Although it has not been proven completely, it is said that Mikhail's death was not from natural causes, he was said to be murdered by his servants by the water boarding him with vodka (oh, the irony) when he arrived home drunk one evening and was yelling at the servants.
Sigmund Frued suggested that Dostoevsky's father's death inspired many themes within Dostoevsky's work, because of his unfortunate guilt towards it, suggesting that Dostoevsky felt guilty because he wanted his father's death. Frued emphasized Dostoevsky's Superman Theory in Crime and Punishment, possibly implying that he used the idea of of the shattered illusion of the extraordinary man, to reflect his own guilt.
On Dostoyevsky and Existentialism
Dostoyevsky had a unique perspective of the existentialist theory in which he explored and demonstrated in his various novels such as Crime and Punishment and also The Brothers Karamazov. It is believed that Dostoyevsky, however, did not share the same views as most of his characters. His variation of existentialism is the culmination of many things such as the tragic life he was given, the end of a second world war, his renewed religious zeal, and general despiritualization of human life at that time.
Dostoyevsky focused on human nature in general but highlighted themes of suffering, failure, and defeat. His inspiration was plentiful in bleak communist Russia whose tsar did not tolerate new ideals that he presented in his works questioning the structure of the political system. His own views were that life was basically unexplainable; therefore, the reasons that we do things are not certainly clear because there is always an imbalance of the spiritual and reasonable mind. Such a conflict is presented in Crime and Punishment. His ideals suggested that society would become better through spiritual rebirth and removing the moral chains that weighed heavily on the people of Russia. He and along with a few others are considered "Christian Existentialists" creating a whole new subcategory for the ambiguous theory.
HulseyTCHS 12th AP Lit