Essay: Madness In Crime and Punishment

In times of need, people resort to madness. This is shown in the novel Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. The characters, who live in extreme poverty, resort to madness. Set in St. Petersburg, this novel deals with the impact of utilitarianism, that drives the main character Raskolnikov, to commit murder, and from his overpowering guilt and paranoia. In addition, Katerina Ivanovna, the wife of Marmeladov, and a mother of three, must cope with an alcoholic husband and,
and lack of money to buy basic necessities, which make her mad, from suffering and the undeniable poverty she experiences. The madness, reflected through the characters of Raskolnikov and Katerina, the wife of Marmeladov, show the extreme suffering of the characters, and show Dostoevsky’s view of the corruption Society in ST. Petersburg

Raskolnikov’s madness is based on mental suffering. The guilt that torments him after he murders Alyona Ivanovna and Lizaveta cause this suffering. Raskolnikov can be called a nihilist, because he rejects both the law, and the moral principles that come along after killing someone. When he kills Alyona and believing its for the greater good, he has just rejected society’s traditional laws of morality and law. Clearly he has gone mad because killing a bank teller is not for the greater good. He spends a lot of time thinking which puts emphasis on the fact that the murder is constantly on his mind. He rarely showers or has clean cloths, and he lives in a depressing apartment. Raskolnikov spends his time alone suffering and doesn’t even shower. He walks the streets at odd hours wearing an ‘old student’s overcoat and mumbling loudly.In beginning of the book, Raskolnikov is a student who has just published a paper, but as the book goes on, he slowly isolates himself. Dostoevsky in order to show that Raskolnikov is mad gives him duel personalities. These two personalities are best represented as his cold, intellectual, dedicated side that emphasizes power and self-will, and his warm, humane, companionate side. The intellectual side is a result of his deliberate and premeditated actions. This is the side that comes out while he kills the banker, and when he thinks that his action was for the greater good. In addition he believes that he is part of an elite ‘superman’ echelon and consequently accepts the moral standards for higher purposes such as utilitarian good. When he is functioning on this side every action is premeditated. It is this aspect of his personality that enables him to come up with his theories on crime, and to commit his crime. On the other hand, his warm, humane compassionate side causes his isolation and madness. The guilt that torments him after he murders Alyona Ivanovna and Lizaveta, and his recurring faintness at the mention of the murders serve as proof that he is not as he thinks he is.

In addition, Katerina Ivanovna, is also troubled but not as much as Raskolnikov. She was born into an aristocratic family, but ironically ended up becoming the wife of a drunkard, and a mother of three children. Thee reason for this drastic change was because she had a bad test in men. You can see Katerina’s frustration with her poor situation by some of the things she says. ‘She (Katerina Ivanovna Marmeladov) was ‘terribly wasted, a Farley tall, slender, shapely woman, with still beautiful dark-brown hair and cheeks flushed with hectic red.” She was walking up and down the little room with her hands pressed to her Brest. Her lips looked parched and her breathing was harsh and uneven. Her eyes had a feverish glitter, but their gaze was hard and fixed.’ (p.22) When Dostoevsky first introduces Katerina she seems ‘agitated and angry ‘ her eyes had a ‘feverish glitter.’ ‘She must have been beautiful once because of her aristocratic background. Due to her ‘hard and fixed glare, se still seems to have a sense of dominance. ‘ she threw herself forward and began to ransack his pockets.'[ [‘] ‘where is the money then’? she cried. (p.23) She only searches for money. She became a scavenger because she has no money. The fact that she only searches for money shows that she only wanted to support her kids. ”You wouldn’t believe, Polenka, you can’t imagine,’ she said as she walked about the room, ‘how happily and in what luxury we lived at home with my papa, and now that drunkard has destroyed me, and he will destroy all of you too!’ […]” (p. 171) Here Katerina is angry about how Marmeladov ruined her life.??Unlike Raskolnikov, Katerina talks to people. Polenka is her daughter, and she is talking to her because she feels like she cannot deal with the pressure of taking care of her kids all by herself. Even though her and her family were poor, she tried to take carafe thing like cleaning. ‘Katerina could not tolerate dirt’ (p. 173). In the book, there are many emotions, and different interactions between characters. Katerina hated her husband because he took away her luxurious lifestyle, and turned her into a housewife with no money to support her kids. ‘Katerina Ivanovna’s look was stern and sad, and tears were flowing from her eyes.’ (p. 175) This scene is right before Marmeladov dies, and it is the only time that Katerina shows sympathetic feelings towards her husband, instead of complaining about and yelling at him. Unlike Raskolnikov , who had to struggle with the murder of two people, Katerina was mad because she had to deal with her drunkard husband, but at the same time take care of her self and her kids.

In conclusion, one can see that madness is a big part Dostoevsky’s book. The aftermath of Raskolnikov’s crime and the suffering that Katerina goes through are crucial parts of the novel. Through the display of Raskolnikov and Katherina’s qualities, it can be seen that madness is a big part of the book. The reader can see the moral battle that Raskolnikov faces after he commits murder. when looking him, one can see that when he is fist introduced he does not sound like a killer, but when Dostoevsky gives Raskolnikov two personalities, it shows the reader that he does not have an identity, which adds to the madness which he experiences. When looking at Katerina Ivanovna,, one can see that the nihilistic state of St. Petersburg affected even the most non deserving people. Katerina Ivanovna unlike Raskolnikov does not bring madness upon herself. She actually works and trys to improve her situation, unlike Raskolnikov who just walks around while depressed

Reflection
In the book Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky. gives the reader a first hand look into the Nihilistic world of St. Petersburg. in this book we see that the moral battle that Raskolnikov faces after he commits murder. when looking him, one can see that when he is fist introduced he does not sound like a killer, but when Dostoevsky gives Raskolnikov two personalities, it shows the reader that he does not have an identity, which adds to the madness which he experiences. When looking at Katerina Ivanovna,, one can see that the nihilistic state of St. Petersburg affected even the most non deserving people. Katerina Ivanovna unlike Raskolnikov does not bring madness upon herself. She actually works and trys to improve her situation, unlike Raskolnikov who just walks around while depressed.

Source: Essay UK - http://ntechno.pro/essays/english-literature/essay-madness-in-crime-and-punishment/


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