Term Paper: Part 1- Laura

Laura Vargas

March 31, 2013

Period 1

Term Paper: Part 1

It has been said that despite technological advances and society’s progress, emotions have always been the same; even the earliest cavemen felt happiness, sadness, guilt, and so on. Written in 1864, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment highlights the mental plight that Rodion Raskolnikov faces after committing murder. Although the novel was written almost 150 years ago, Rodia’s struggles can be understood by anyone thousands of years ago, as well as anyone thousands of years in the future because guilt is nothing new.

Guilt, which is defined as: the fact of having committed a specified or implied offense or crime, stems from the acceptance that one in fact committed a crime. In Rodia’s case he faces such a heavy battle in his mind because he goes through two separate phases throughout the whole novel. One phase is the one in which he believes that he did nothing wrong and that Alliona deserved to be killed because she was not a good person. Phase one is one in which his guilt is only subconscious because his conscious mind believes that he did something right and he makes himself believe that he is above all others and in a sense heroic. Phase two is the one that brings him the most pain- the one in which he acknowledges that he committed one of the most heinous acts that a human could commit. Conscious guilt is the corollary of phase two. This mental split between the two phases builds up in his subconscious and does not let him live a normal life. He spends days on end battling whether or not he should cede to the guilt and confess to the crime and therefore face punishment, or if he should try to burry the hatchet and continue living his life. However, every time that he tries to listen to the part of his brain telling him to run away from the pain and get over it the guilt returns to torment him.

In portraying guilt through Rodia’s downward spiral in the 1800s, Dostoevsky proved to understand society and the human mind. There are many articles written on the psychological and physiological effects of guilt and many of those effects directly mirror everything that Rodia went through in the novel; his inconsistency of emotions and his oversensitivity are typical of someone living with guilt. The fact that he has to constantly hear about the crime continues to stimulate his questioning of his morality.

Guilt peaks when one has loved ones whose expectations one has to live up to. Rodia’s struggle increases whenever his mother and sister are around because he loves them and knows that he cannot let them down by being known as a murderer. As a result of that, he has to deceive them, which adds onto his guilt, thus making everything even harder for him. Rodia’s guilt consumes him more and more with each struggle that comes his family’s way. 

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Term Paper Installment 1

Lauren Beveridge
Period 1
3/31/13

Crime and Punishment,written in 1864 by Fyodor Dostoevsky, is about a man who formerly attended a University in St. Petersburg, Russia. At the time Dostoevsky wrote this novel, St. Petersburg was viewed as Russia’s most up- to- date “European” city. Therefore, Dostoevsky’s protagonist, Raskolnikov, must have had ample knowledge of the ground- breaking ideas and movements occurring in England, America, and Europe throughout the 1800’s. This knowledge most definitely influenced the portrayal of Dostoevsky’s characters and story line. One of the great movements of this time was the introduction of Feminism through the work and word of feminists such as Mary Wollstonecraft, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and so on. Feminism is all about the strength and independence of women, therefore, the women in Crime and Punishment such as Sonya, Dunya, and Lizaveta, all have personality traits and take certain actions that make them stronger and smarter than the men in the novel. Dostoevsky’s female characters, or heroines, in Crime and Punishment find independence from the men in the novel, not through economic empowerment, but in moral conviction.

One of the most influential feminists of not only the 1800’s, but in all of history, is Mary Wollstonecraft. Her most popular work is entitled A Vindication of the Rights of Women. In this text, she expresses a list of major ideas that set the foundation for the many feminist movements to come in the following centuries. She expressed the idea of unwilling submission to any person, custom, or institution that is degrading to women. She also stated that reason should be the basis for all human action and thought. These two ideals alone are reflected strongly in the female characters in the novel.

For instance, Dunya refuses to be submissive to Luhzin, her fiancée, and defies his wishes by inviting her brother to an event he specifically asked her not to. Dunya does this to test her soon-to-be husband and his reaction to her defiance. When Luhzin is caught off guard, he reacts badly and resorts to degrading the women in the room in an attempt to regain his sense of pride. Seeing this undesirable facet in Luhzin’s personality brings Dunya to the decision that she will not give into his degrading behavior towards women or the institution of marriage and decides that he is unfit to wed. This decision is a clear representation of one of Wollstonecraft’s ideals for feminism.

Although Sonya’s actions do not seem to be supportive of Wollstonecraft’s work, she is still a female character that is strong in moral conviction, continuing the theme of strong female characters in the novel. Sonya prostitutes herself to support her family because her father is incapable of providing for them. Although this strays from the idea that women should not degrade themselves for any person, institution, or custom, there is one key word in Mary Wollstonecraft’s statement that makes Sonya’s actions pro-feminist. She said that women should not unwillingly submit to any person, institution, or custom that is destructive towards women. Sonya made this decision on her own, not unwillingly, because she knew she ultimately needed to take on the male role in her family dynamic or her family would fall apart entirely. This makes Sonya just as much of a feminist character as Dunya.

First 500 words of my research paper

Brittany Schrager

March 31, 2013

Period 1

The Ignorance of Society

 

            Nothing is more frightening than societies ignorance. In Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky Rodion Raskolnikov commits an act of murder. Not one of the supplementary characters seems to suspect Rodion, though hints are presented throughout the novel. Rodion’s act continues to go unpunished even though he, himself basically tells what he has done to anyone who will listen; they simply write it off as insanity. The book explores how society fails to catch the true culprit, because of its ignorance. 

            In part one of the novel Rodion is presented as a man with many different emotions and qualities. He is not only a recluse, but he also believes that he is superior to everyone. He is a man that is hindered by his morality. Unlike most feelings of morality his are presented with the idea that it is his duty to fix the world and make it a better place. Because of this rationalization he justifies the act of killing the pawnbroker and her daughter because he believes that society will be better without them. The underlying conflict though is that Rodion’s morality has him feel guilt as well. This causes him to questions his actions throughout the plot and to fall ill after the act of murder, which could ultimately lead to his capture. Another quality of Rodion is his aptitude. Even though he is a man of great intelligence, this itself has seemed to render him throughout his life. He has few friends, cannot handle social situations, and considers everything and everyone inferior.

From the beginning the reader can perceive the amount of dramatic irony present in the novel. Many times Rodion comments on murder and how it can be accepted in certain cases, but none of the other characters know about these thoughts. “Good God…can it be, can it be, that I will really take an axe, that I will strike her, on the head, split her skull open…that I will strike her skull open…that I will tread in the sticky warm blood, break the lock, steal and tremble; hide, al spattered in the blood…with the axe” (Dostoevsky 60). Thoughts like this follow Rodion throughout his journey and some he even discusses with some of his friends: Zossimov and Razumikhin and his family: Adovtia (his sister) and his mother. Not once do they question or worry about these thoughts, they simply write them off as unimportant; but these thoughts are the key to catching Rodion at his act. Many times he hints at the murder he has committed. When he falls ill from guilt after the crime, all his friends believe he is truly ill. They do not connect this occurrence with the occurrence of the murder and do not listen to the random words his screams during his illness. These words ironically reveal what he has done, but no one but the reader distinguishes this. His doctor Zossimov watches him carefully, feeding him and taking care of him but never picks up on the validity of words that Rodion utters. Because of this his crime go unpunished and the ignorance continues.

Continuation of my term paper ideas.

Brittany Schrager
March 18, 2013
Period 1

My last blog discussed the ignorance presented throughout most of the novel all the up to my farthest reading point. As I continue on with this novel every other character continues to stay in the dark. Nobody has questioned Rodia’s madness or connected anything at all; but what I am starting to wonder now is: What if they are not guessing it because they do not want to? What if at some subconscious level they know that if they do look at the facts they will realize this great freind of theirs is actually a murder? Maybe they want to stay in the dark?

Another idea I have considered is Rodia’s ignorance. The whole novel shows the main ignorance of the supplementary characters but Rodia is also ignorant in many factors as well. From the event he never really considered the carelessness and ignorance of his actions. He still believes that he will not be caught and that what he did was in someway right. This further shows the way Fyodor presents ignorance in every character and every aspect of this novel. My thesis for the paper will be: The theme represented through crime and punishment is the ignorance of society.

Response to JP’s confusion about his idea.

Brittany Schrager

March 18, 2013

Period 1

                 JP I think you idea for your term paper is good and I think to help you out you should have your topic include the discussion we have had in Mr. Shaprio’s class with genius of intelligence hindering you allowing someone to see too much clarity and incorporating that with how this may make Rodia believe that he is above the law and therefore can kill people of lesser value than him. You could also speak about his intellect isolating him for everyone else on a subconscious or even conscious level.

               I think the topic would take you really far and it will give many subtopics to present and discuss. As for your thesis it should somehow reflect the idea of clarity and what we have discussed in this class; that way you have many ways that you can take this term paper.

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Term Paper Idea

JP Lorié

Okay guys, I have an idea but I’m having trouble exactly formulating it. To me, one of the most important aspects in all of the emotional development with our protagonist is when we learn about the paper he wrote about the idea of people with superior intellect being above the law. I wanted to use this idea in terms of his development and distance from society as he can’t connect with anyone. The analysis of his personal beliefs before and after the crime drastically change as obviously seen. I’m not really sure what to focus on when writing about this part of protagonists life before the crime. Would I question weather or not he should be allowed to do such things. Or I could focus on what we talked about in class, the idea of people of superior intellect being rendered incapable of regular functions within society and would furthermore question his incentives for murder especially in terms of the paper he wrote.

I’m not really sure what kind of thesis or topic that is per say. I really could use some help if anyone knows what I’m trying to get at. 

My opinion on Spencer’s choice of theme

Laura Vargas

March 11, 2013

Period 1

Reaction: Partner’s Theme

My opinion on Spencer’s choice of theme

Although Spencer feels that his opinion is confusing, I completely understand and agree with it. His realization that Rodia’s pre-meditated thoughts consume his brain goes hand in hand with all human beings. I believe that it is part of nature. In a sense we see traces of survival of the fittest in this notion. Since the first signs of life we have noticed that every single species on Earth, be it man or animal have done what they can to survive. They eat because they know that will keep them from feeling discomfort and ultimately dying. And although murder seems very far from survival I think it is this sense of urgency coming from the human mind to accomplish what we think we have to do but with society’s own twist on it. He thinks he will help himself as well as others if he gets rid of this woman. Surely his survival doesn’t depend on it, but his mental comfort does and until he commits the murder he has the intention of it biting away at his mind. Good luck Spencer. 

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