Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Resurrection & Life in Crime & Punishment (3)

We looked at the life of Dostoevsky in Part 1. Then the plot and central action of Crime & Punishment in Part 2.

Now we will explore the climax. After committing two murders, a transformational God moment occurs in Raskolnikov's life.

Before confessing the murder to the authorities, he goes to Sonia and asks her for a cross to wear. “It’s the symbol of my taking up the cross” (Dostoevsky 517) he ponders. It is Sonia who has “the conviction that an all-merciful God could provide universal forgiveness for the sins of humanity – and for Raskolnikov as well.” (Freeborn 69) It’s Sonia, whose words he recalls on his way to confess. He was told to confess his murder at the cross roads at the center of town.
‘I am a murderer’, He trembled remembering that. And the hopeless misery and anxiety of all that time, especially of the last hours, had weighed so heavily upon him that he positively clutched at the chance of this new unmixed, complete sensation. It came over him like a fit; it was like a single spark kindled in his soul and spreading like wild fire through him. Everything in him softened at once and the tears started into his eyes. He fell on the earth on the spot… (Dostoevsky 520)

Before continuing on his way to the police station he quietly murmurs the words “I am a murderer” (521). Up until this moment he defended what he had done as not being a crime. Porifory Petrovitch had discussed with Raskolnikov on a previous occasion the topic of Nikolay’s religion. Nikolay had wished to suffer purely for the sake of appearing better to God. “It is not a question of suffering for someone’s benefit, but simply, ‘one must suffer’” (448). Porifory went on to say “this [confessing of the murder] may be God’s means for bringing you to Him” (454). Raskolnikov had understood the meaning suffering and did not want to turn himself in if he did not have true repentance. However, it is at this moment that he comes to true remorse in his heart and is ashamed of his crime.

Work Cited

Dostoevsky, Fyodor. Crime and Punishment, New York: Bantam Books, 2003.

Freeborn, Richard. Dostoevsky, London: Haus Publishing, 2003.

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