Crime And Punishment Research paper
A single thought can remain in the brain for a lifetime. Forever waiting in ones subconscious simply waiting for the right moment to present itself and burst into the mind forcing its owner to act upon it. While these types of thoughts are rare, they are in fact real and can be very harmful if they encourage the wrong type of behavior. In Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov becomes consumed by a single thought forcing him to commit a crime that sent him spiraling down into a state of madness and paranoia.
Raskolnikov or Rodia is a character of great complexity. He does not think like the rest of society, he has his own morals and does what he believes to be right. The first scenario in which a single thought consumes Rodia would be the murder of the pawnbroker and her sister Lizaveta. All the reader knows about the pawnbroker is from the view of Rodia with the exception of one brief conversation between two men. While the reader is not given much background, we know that Rodia despises her. His initial thought is that she is a vile, greedy, worthless human being that does not deserve to remain on planet Earth. He has had to sell her some of his personal items for fear of not being able to take care of himself, this adds to his hatred of her because he feels as if she is taking advantage of his situation and thus gives him less money for the items that he so desperately needs to exchange for cash. After this first thought has been processed, it starts to develop into something more. Soon the simple thought of not liking her turns into the hatred of her. Then questions begin to arise, why is she still around? Nobody likes her. Maybe things would be better if she were not here anymore. Rodia struggled with this thought for a long time as it slowly began to make itself more present in his mind. Eventually he decided to go to a bar to have a drink when he overheard two gentlemen talking. They were speaking of the pawnbroker and how much they both despised her. This was all Rodia had to here. As soon as he became aware that he was not the only one who had wished that the pawnbroker was gone, he sprung into action. He found out the times in which the pawnbroker would be home alone and scheduled his plan accordingly. After all was set, he grabbed his axe and a decoy trinket and headed over to her apartment. He played out the plan very carefully and as she turned her back, he swung his axe right over her head immediately killing her. What he had not noticed however; was that the door was still open and standing in it was Lizaveta. He had no other choice but to murder her as well for fear that she would undoubtedly go to the police. So there stood Rodia, a former college student with a loving family, now a cold-blooded murderer of two with blood stained hands trapped inside an apartment. He had another very close call while trying to escape two painters; they had seemed to hear everything and knew what was going on. Somehow Rodia was able to escape and that’s when everything really started to go downhill.
The pawnbroker was by no means wealthy, but she did have a large amount of cash on her as well as a few valuable items that Rodia took with him after the murder. One would assume that a man capable of murder would surely spend this money and sell the items because after all what else do they have to lose. What is weird though is that Rodia never spent the money and hid the valuables under a random rock a few streets down from his apartment with no intention to ever reclaim them. This shows the reader that Rodia was not in it for the materialistic benefits that he may receive. While he was broke, he did not care about the money. He simply wanted this woman gone from society because he felt as if the world would be better off without her. That is what separates Rodia from all other murderers. He killed for himself, he killed her because he THOUGHT that he would feel better if she was gone, but unfortunately the exact opposite occurred.
Everyone’s perception of a situation is different, some can see things as positive others as negative, what matters though is the perception of those involved. Rodia’s perception of this situation immediately turned wrong as soon as he entered his apartment building. The problem with the murder was that Rodia did not think of any of the consequences. He just did it. He never even thought about the possibility of getting caught or even the personal feelings that come with having committed such a gruesome act. What he originally thought was going to be something of simplicity and nonchalant ness actually sent him into a state of paranoia and madness only to be coupled with remorse and grief. It was the first singular thought of not liking the pawnbroker that sent him into this state. This pre-emitted thought slowly gained strength and began to emerge itself from his subconscious to his full consciousness up until the point where it consumed him and was all he could think about. All he knew was that he wanted this woman gone and was willing to do anything to ensure that it happened. The thought became so powerful that he was unable to even think about the possible consequences even though he most definitely knew what they were going to be. This shows how a single pre-emitted thought can completely control ones actions and wreak havoc upon society.
Everyone knows the consequences of committing a crime such as a murder. Whether it is the death penalty or life in a Siberian work camp, Rodia clearly knew what the physical punishments handed down by the state were going to be. However there are two sides to punishment when it comes to a murder with no real exterior motives, physical and mental. Some argue as to which one is worse, but the fact is that Rodia went through both of them just at separate times. Rodia experienced the physical punishments when he was sent to the Siberian work camps at the end of the novel. Here he did hard labor and had to suffer through the hardships of the freezing weather and rationalized food supply as well as the poor living conditions that the camps forced upon its prisoners. While working in these camps is a true tragedy and for lack of a better word simply sucks, the mental punishment of committing such a crime is worse in my mind.
The mental punishment set in as soon as Rodia entered his apartment after committing the murder. Raskolnikov fell into a fitful, nightmare-ridden sleep, and after four days of fever and delirium, he wakes up to find out that his housekeeper, Nastasya, and Razumikhin have been taking care of him. They have all noticed that Raskolnikov becomes extremely uncomfortable whenever the murder of the pawnbroker is mentioned. For example, he was summoned to the police station for a reason that he had not known and upon arrival he sat down on a bench. He is clearly as paranoid as any other person would be if they had committed a murder the day before and then were called into the police station. However as he was sitting there he overheard a few officers talking across the room. They were simply discussing the murder and how mysterious the whole thing was. This was enough to set the paranoid Rodia off as he immediately fainted inside the police station. This actually happened a few times throughout the story as Rodia was not mentally able to withstand the fact that what he did was wrong and clearly he felt remorse for his actions and that is why he was unable to face his wrongdoings and thus could not even stand to hear about it in his presence.
This mental punishment of not being able to go on with one’s daily life can be rough. Whether or not Rodia admits it, he felt remorse for the gruesome acts that he committed. There was one time down the way were he must have thought that what he did was wrong. That initial thought entered his mind and would never come out. That is why he felt so mentally incapable because he was fighting the thoughts that what he did was morally acceptable to him self and thus he should not feel sorry. However that was not the case as the grief continuously built upon itself in his mind and that is what ultimately lead him to confess at the end of the novel. All it took was for the one simple thought of recognition that what he did was wrong for him to send himself into the mental punishment of not being able to move on.
There was one final aspect of the novel that I wished Dostoevsky would have let the reader read. While only mentioned once in the middle and a few times by his mother near the end; Rodia wrote an article about the consequences of committing a murder. Unfortunately Dostoevsky did not make this article available for his readers so we are forced to speculate as to what its content was, however if my theory is to be correct then I have a pretty good idea as to what Rodia wrote about. Rodia wrote the article while he was a student and had no thoughts about murdering the pawnbroker. He simply wrote the article with the hopes that it would get published and he could make some money. My opinion as to the contents of the article are the same as the feelings that Rodia experienced after he committed the murder. Almost everything that he experienced, he had wrote about in his article. This is coherent with my theory that pre-meditated thoughts control ones actions. Here is a man that has just written an entire article on the after effects of committing a murder. The next thing he does is commit a murder, how hard is it to believe that a man is going to feel the feelings that he wrote were going to a person in his exact position. The thoughts of what his feelings might be entered his thoughts when he began to write about it. The thoughts became stronger and stronger until he was forced to act upon them and commit the murder. So was it the article that aroused his curiosity and made him commit the murder? We will never know, but what we do know is that Rodia said that these things would happen if he committed a murder, and then he committed a murder and now one can assume that he felt the things that he wrote about, hence pre-meditated thoughts controlling ones actions.
In conclusion I would like to make my theory or in this case thesis loud and clear. I believe that as soon as a single thought is presented in the brain, it is there forever. Whether it is actively in your thoughts or stored somewhere deep in your mind, it is accessible at almost anytime. In addition, if the thought is strong enough and presented enough times, it will begin to grow on a person and the more they think about it, the stronger it gets. In Crime and Punishment, Rodia writes an article on what we would like to believe is about the after effects of a murderer. This article immediately instills what Rodia believes to be the feelings that someone should feel after having committed a murder. Now these thoughts are in his mind and can never get out. So when he commits the murder, those thoughts have been awoken and thus he feels the grief and remorse that any killer should feel. Overall I believe that pre-meditated thoughts can control ones actions to the point of full consumption and inability to move away from the thought.
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor. Crime and punishment. New York: Modern Library, 1950. Print.