Crime and Punishment
The Blood Of Emmett Till By Timothy B. Tyson: Representation Of One Of The Most Notorious Hate Crimes In American History
One of the most notorious hate crimes in American history titles the prominent lynching of a young 14 year old boy in the Mississippi Delta of 1955. Emmett Till reportedly flirted with a white woman while purchasing candy at a grocery store. Soon after he was kidnapped by two white men, brutally murdered, and tossed away into the Tallahatchie River. The author Timothy B. Tyson conveys the message of this horrific event as a milestone in American history. In his book The Blood of Emmett Till he describes the heinous murder itself along with its unjust trial. Through the course of his book, Tyson explicates the meaning behind the lynching that provoked protests across the country, strengthened memberships against white supremacy, and inspired people to fight for Civil Rights.
Tyson is a civil rights historian, telling the story of an event that occurred over 50 years ago. In that time many articles and several books have been published; the lynching is well known. However, Tyson revised history and added more unknown details to the Till case. He separated himself from other authors by placing the only interview ever conducted with Carolyn Bryant, the woman who made the accusations that lead to the brutal and gory death of a young boy. In that interview, he uncovered some of the untruthful accounts told in the 1955 trial. He gained access to the murder trial transcript that had only been discovered in 2005.
The 1950’s was a time full of discrimination, white supremacy, and racism. The mindset of the white public and their ability to interact with blacks was unethical. In his book, Tyson introduced readers to what it was like being a colored person in the time period. In chapters 9 and 10 he discussed the political issues of public school integration with the Brown vs. Board of education case and blacks right to vote. People who had supported public school desegregation lost their jobs, insurance policies, and were even violently threatened until they gave up. Tyson reflected upon another murder case to illustrate the treatment of any defiant blacks. This was the story of George Lee, who was shot and killed as a result of not removing his name from the voter registration list. These small examples of inflammatory political issues served as the key setting to Tyson’s book as well as the Till murder.
Overall Tyson gave readers an impeccable inquiry into the well-known tragedy of Emmett Till. However in some places the organization and telling of the event felt off. Tyson had jumped around in the beginning of his book. In early chapters, Tyson covered the death of Till and then later he was introducing the story of Till’s birth and where he had grown up. The overall telling of Till’s life may have been better displayed if it was organized chronologically. Also, Tyson had the tendency to circle around the same information. It felt as if he was retelling a lot of the story. Lastly, in his book, Tyson told the story of Emmett Till and other events going on in the time period. The extra information helped to give a background around the Till case, however some of the commentary between the main event made the book difficult get through at times.
Tyson had an exceedingly well developed a central purpose in his book to distinguish that nothing Emmett Till ever did justified what had happened to him. He directly expressed this message to readers from the very first chapter when he revealed the false accusations and that very heavy statement from Carolyn Bryant herself. Tyson went into detail of how Emmett was raised and the morals he learned from his own mother. The boy overstepped some racial boundaries, but his brutal beating and death was not a fit justification for the smart talking and whistle that he gave a white woman. Tyson’s evocative description of Till’s body further connected readers to the lynching. One example is when described Emmett as “brutally beaten beyond recognition.”
When a colored person was killed at the hands of a white man it was often overlooked far beyond the public eye and even through the court systems. However the lynching of Emmett Till was one case that could not be ignored. Several times in his book, Tyson highlighted the significance that this race case held over the Civil Rights movement. The open casket funeral and the display of Till’s brutally beaten body was an eye opening experience for the public. Emmett Till had become the inspiration for change. That same year civil rights activist Rosa Parks had Emmett on her mind when she had refused to give up her seat to a white man on a public transportation bus. The case of Emmett Till is notorious for how it galvanized the spark of the already emerging Civil Rights movement.
Also, throughout his book Tyson included quotes from several people of opposing races that had further connected readers with the time period.
The Golden Rule of Criminal Jurisprudence
The golden rule that runs through the web of criminal jurisprudence is that ‘the accused is presumed to be innocent until the guilt is proved’. The onerous responsibility to prove all the ingredients of an offence rests upon the prosecution. If the prosecution has not proved the guilt according to the standards of proof, there arises a reasonable doubt and the accused gets benefit of acquittal.
However, this is not a immutable principle. Exceptions enumerated under sec 105 and sec 106 place a part of burden of proof on the accused to prove facts which are within his knowledge. Sec 113-A of the evidence act raises a presumption as to abetment of suicide by a married woman by her husband or his relatives. Similarly, sec 114-A raises presumption of absence of consent in a rape cases. The evidential burden is on accused.
The said rule does not reduce the burden on the prosecution to prove that the accused has committed the offence beyond the reasonable standards. The legal presumption under sec 105 with the words “the court shall presume the absence of such circumstances” is not intended to displace the aforesaid traditional burden of the prosecution. It is only where the prosecution has proved its case with reasonable certainty that court can depend upon the presumptions regarding absence of circumstances falling under any of the exceptions. the presumptions helps the court to determine the on whom is the burden to prove facts necessary to attract the exception. Unlike the prosecution, the accused can be discharged the burden of proof based on the ‘preponderance of probabilities’ 
It is also equally well settled principle that suspicion however strong cannot take place of proof. There is indeed a difference between ‘accused may have committed the crime’ and ‘accused must have committed the crime’. This evidential burden is on the prosecution to prove the guilt by adducing the reliable and cogent evidence. Presumption of innocence has also been recognised as an important human right which cannot be disregarded in Indian criminal jurisprudence as well as human rights prespective.
The same concept has been reiterated in the decision by the supreme court as “Every accused is presumed to be innocent unless his guilt is proved. The presumption of innocence is a human right subject to statutory exceptions, the said principle forms the basis of criminal jurisprudence in India”
P.N.Krishna Lal v.nGovt. of Kerala, 1995Supp (2)S.C.C.187.
Periasami v. State of Tamilnadu(1996)6 SCC 457.
Narendra Singh v. State of M.P (2004) 10 SCC 699.
Ganesan v. Rama Raghuraman, (2011) 2 SCC 83
The crime rate in Britain
By the early 20th century many of the old industries on which Britain’s industrial supremacy had been based were in decline. In the 1930s depression, they were hit hard: national unemployment in 1933 was 22%, but in parts of northern England, Scotland and Wales it was much higher. Some people did not have a job for twenty years. At the same time, new industries: electricity, radio, cars, household goods sprung up in new areas. There were thus huge contrasts of wealth and poverty between areas and between classes for much of the century. In the search for work, people increasingly moved around the country, making communities less stable and people more unknown to each other. The crime rate in early 20th century Britain was low, lower than for the early 19th century. Even the terrible poverty and unemployment of the 1930s appeared to bring only a small increase in crime. Then from about 1960, crime figures seemed to rocket upwards.
An explanation for this could be linked to a change in reported crime and unreported crime – this is known as the “dark figure” This is the difference between the numbers of crimes committed and the number reported. The “dark figure” exists, but no one knows how big it is, or if it is changing. For example, there was a 100% increase in the number of reported burglaries in the 1970s, yet only an 18% increase in the number of people who said they had been burgled. It would seem that burglary was increasing, but not as fast as the reported crime figures. It seems that the “dark figure” is shrinking as more crimes get reported: the police encourage the reporting of crime; insurance claims make it necessary; more people have telephones. Police reporting and acting on crime reports are also now far more thorough. Newspaper crime reporting may also exaggerate the actual amount of crime. The newspapers like to report a crime and to sensationalize it.
One effect of this is fear: people are more afraid of crime, even when, in fact, they are at no more risk than in the past. Despite the many changes in crimes over the centuries, crime in Britain and Wales has actually been falling steadily for almost 20 years. There’s been a long-term downward trend since the mid-90s, reaching an all-time low in 2014 when crime rates hit their lowest recorded level since 1981. One of the reasons for this may be the advances in policing during the twentieth century, which saw the introduction of police cars, police radios, Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV), The National Police Computer, The Finger Print Register, and of course DNA evidence.
Crime rate fluctuations cannot be attributed to one single factor, but are dependent on a concoction of various issues; shifting social and economic factors, the emerging impact of technology and the highly underestimated fact that many cases often remain unreported all contribute.
Analysis Of Raskolnikov’s Intent To Kill In Crime And Punishment
The character of Raskolnikov is an interesting one in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. A failed visualization of the Ubermensch initially, there is leagues more depth to the character, not only in a psychological way but in the context of his own creation and purpose in the narrative. By looking at how Raskolnikov’s psychosis develops in Crime and Punishment, the reader can see that he begins to betray his own Marxist ideals. This is important because Crime and Punishment is not just a riveting crime novel, it’s also a personal statement by author Fyodor Dostoevsky about the failure of Marxism itself and how religious redemption and reform is what Russia truly needs in order to see a prosperous future.
Raskolnikov is established as a character with many mental flaws even before he commits his crime. The novel begins with vivid descriptions of how much Raskolnikov suffers “in isolation”, setting the stage for his character and actions and allows us to get inside his head immediately. The reader is assaulted with gross details about his surroundings and can infer that a disturbed individual like Raskolnikov is a product of his disturbed surroundings. In Dostoevsky’s vision of St. Petersburg, “The heat in the street was terrible…the unbearable stench from the taverns…an expression of the deepest disgust gleamed…in the young man’s refined face” (Dostoevsky 6). Such a horrible place has caused Raskolnikov to come to hate life exponentially more. So was the mindset of the average Russian young adult at the time, swept away by the broad and poorly defined ideals of Karl Marx. It is here, so early in the exposition, that the reader finds that Raskolnikov is one of these individuals. As noted by Chijioke Uwasomba, “There appears to be too much of uncertainty and indeterminacy in the behavior of these characters” (Uwamsoba 15). Dostoevsky is saying that Raskolnikov is not the only victim of a flawed society. It’s also important to note that when Raskolnikov is forced out of this murky, dark, and oppressive city and put into a Siberian prison away from society, that is when he begins to recover. George Gibian says that this natural location “reawakened in him the feelings of his youth, through which he came close to avoiding his crime and to finding regeneration without having to pass through the cycle of crime and punishment” because he is away from an oppressive society and is instead locked up in a chamber alone with his own thoughts. (Gibian 1)
This abhorrence of a ‘flawed’ society sets Raskolnikov up to be a Marxist and a Nihilist. Marxism is the belief in a superior mass led government which includes the labor theory of value, dialectical materialism, the class struggle, and dictatorship of the proletariat until the establishment of a classless society while Nihilism is the belief that life has no purpose, that existence is suffering, and that to survive is to attempt to discover meaning in the suffering. As the reader has effectively entered the mind of this strange man, we learn of his beliefs. However, these views are seriously warped. Raskolnikov takes it upon himself to interpret being a nihilistic Marxist as believing to be superior among commoners. He asks, “What if a man is not really a scoundrel…we make the rules. Ourselves, there’s no natural laws.” (Dostoevsky 24), he’s testing the waters for his thesis that he is excused of society’s laws because they’re inferior to him. Raskolnikov idolizes Napoleon Bonaparte. Thus, it’s easy to believe that because Napoleon killed to achieve greatness, it’s okay for Raskolnikov himself to do so. (Uwamsoba 143).
Raskolnikov endures a number of horrific nightmares, each one core to his character development. None are as important as his very first, a dream in which a mare is beaten to death. Raskolnikov’s dream about the mare signifies the shift of Raskolnikov from a schizoid mess to a maniac with potentially homicidal intentions. Could his killing truly be predestined or did this dream spark his inner violent intentions? Chijoke Uwamsoba believes that “the savage beating of the mare in his dream foreshadows his own axe murder” (147). His axe murder is even more horrific than the mare’s death and is just as shaking to his psyche. The mare’s fictional death is what sets the stage, but the pawnbroker’s death is what finishes the show, casting Raskolnikov’s fate to become increasingly deranged and lost. It is important to note that Raskolnikov’s dreams “are tied together by violence” (146). This first dream, in particular, affects him in a way that parallels his future guilt of his future killing. This is also the first act of violence in the novel, one that only exists inside of Raskolnikov’s subconscious. Now fueled with a passion for murder, Raskolnikov, justified or not, has set the stage for his psychosis.
Raskolnikov states that his intentions are strictly Marxist. Raskolnikov’s intent to murder is based on a warped sense of Marxism. He believes killing the pawnbroker is morally justified. simply because he is the ‘Ubermensch’ (Dostoevsky 40). Raskolnikov sees the pawnbroker as “a vermin who is part of a class sucking him and his like” (147). He was furious at her social status and hated her by association, believing that her elite status is killing all of his potentials. This is part of a Marxist ideology, for the Proletariat to go against the Bourgeoisie. Raskolnikov gives 5 motives for his murder. “First…because he was poor and needed money. This motive is the social justification from poverty. Then he argues that he wished to benefit society, that the old woman was useless and would have let her money rot. This motive is utilitarian. Gennaro Santangelo says that these first two are coupled because “they exist on the level of the consciousness” (Santangelo 1). Santangelo also believes that Raskolnikov’s basis for his neurosis is due to incestuous desires, though this detracts from his overall purpose as a character. (Santangelo 1).
However, it is possible he uses the broad blanket of Marxism to hide his own intentions. According to Thomas Fiddick, it is entirely reasonable that “Raskolnikov might also be seen as an intellectually motivated psychopath” and he simply couldn’t face the fact that a man whom he regarded as so utilitarian superior could actually be a lowly petty criminal basket case (Fiddick 1). Though he calls himself so many names, he doesn’t quite follow through with his own ideals. Stated by Kieran James, Raskolnikov’s ideals mirror Luzhin and Svidrigailov’s yet he denounces them, showing that he never was truly subscribes to his preachings (James 4). In his climatic confession to Sonia, Raskolnikov tells her “that low ceilings and small poky little rooms warp mind and soul.” (Dostoevsky 403).
Raskolnikov blames his killing of the pawnbroker on the fact that he was psychologically compelled to do so, once again blaming his own surroundings and home for bringing him up disturbed. This disturbed psyche has also made him envious; not only is he envious of the pawnbroker’s wealth, but because of the fact that Raskolnikov felt he “could not place himself in the mystic structure of man’s internal relationships and some entity outside self–hence his personality was split.” (Santangelo 1). Even his name “Raskol”, means “split” in Russian. Because of the fact that Raskolnikov is a hypocrite, he becomes increasingly distraught, paranoid, and mad. The justification for his killing was not one he subscribed to. He did not think of his own clear mind, but rather his actions were “performed in a masterly and most cunning way, while the direction…is deranged…like a dream” (Dostoevsky 197). This leads to Raskolnikov effectively destroying himself. The “Punishment” in the title is not his eventual arrest, but rather his self-suffering and pitying. Raskolnikov was never a sensible man as many critics have mistaken. He is “severely wounded psychologically exposing himself to extreme individualism and consequent dementia” (Uwamsoba 146).
During the time period Crime and Punishment was written, Marxism was spreading across Russian, becoming adopted and misunderstood by many susceptible individuals believing that Marx’s ideal society was actually a cry to destroy the upper class in order to redeem their lowly selves. Thus, Raskolnikov’s actions are those of twisted interpretations of Marxism, twisted by his own psychosis. Raskolnikov admits to Sonia that the guilt is killing him, along with the paranoia of Svidrigailov and Porphyrius suspecting him. (Uwamsoba 144). Despite this, “Even in prison…Raskolnikov still holds inflexibly to the idea that the murder is justifiable. And yet his whole being, according to Alfred Bem, his entire moral nature is shaken precisely by the moral aspect of the murder” (Bem 1). He’s gone so far into the rabbit hole that he absolutely refuses to escape. This echoes and even mirrors the fate of Russia. Russia was going through an almost existential crisis similar to Raskolnikov’s, and it seemed that Marxism was the answer. In reality, the twisted minds of Communist leaders we know such as Stalin sparked Russian’s downfall. Dostoevsky knew what he was writing about when he wrote Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment. He isn’t just some crazy coot, he’s a personification of Dostoevsky’s fears of Russia.
Raskolnikov is still a fascinating character to dive into, and he is so much more complex than just an author stand-in. As clarified by Diane Telgen, Raskolnikov “is schizophrenic…socially withdrawn, reclusive, alone, and appears to be unable to…form…social relationships” (Telgen 1). The only two characters he truly has a relationship with are his sister and Sonia, both of the opposite sex. It can be inferred that he cannot connect with his own gender. Not even around his supposed best friend Razumikhin does he seem at ease. Razumikhin is the foil to Raskolnikov, being outgoing and friendly while Raskolnikov is reclusive and hateful. He ends up winning the love of Raskolnikov’s sister while she fades out of his narrative as he leans towards Sonia. Sonia also acts as a foil to Raskolnikov, being kind and religious. Raskolnikov becomes so desperate for belonging following his crime that he throws off the façade of Marxism and Nihilism to be accepted by her, and more importantly God. Raskolnikov giving to the irrational customs of religion contradicts the fact that he spent the majority of the novel attempting to make a point about how rational of a being he is (Gibian 1). A victim of underdeveloped mentality and sense of belonging, Raskolnikov finally ends his childish temper tantrum and finds a place in this world he hated so.
Raskolnikov is Dostoevsky’s foil to the radical movements that plagued Russia. During this time period, every aspect of Russian society was called into question by rationalists, Marxists, and nihilists revolutionaries. Fyodor Dostoevsky “intended to show how destructive [these political ideals] was…for mankind” by creating a basket case textbook definition of how these ideals manifested in a fragile and broken mind lead to nothing but self-suffering and pitying. Raskolnikov’s proclaimed motive in the exposition is to prove “he is beyond good and evil, a ‘superman’ whose ‘will to power’ was on part with that ‘Anti-Christ” ” (Fiddick 1). This mirrors the ideas of nihilism, specifically those spoke by famed philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. The idea of the “Ubermensch”, the “superman”, the supreme human, is meant to be seen as an ultimate and benevolent teacher for mankind, but Raskolnikov interprets it as being a self-imposed title of superiority. What Dostoevsky is trying to say is that “following the ‘superman’ theory…leads to death, destruction, chaos, and misery’ (Telgen 78). While Raskolnikov does not physically die, his soul and spirit are slain by his own tormented psyche, causing him to destroy others while spiraling down in a state of chaos and self-imposed misery. “Raskolnikov…reacts in horror at his own crime” showing that these psuedo-Marxists and Nihilists aren’t even prepared to face their own philosophies (Telgen 78). He does not have the guts to see the effect of his cause, his own ideologies preached so hard by himself realized in flesh and blood. When Raskolnikov turns himself in to Petrovitch, Petrovitch commends the fact Raskolnikov sees “all the attraction of life” as nothing and says he is “an ascetic, a monk, a hermit!” with “a book, a pen behind [his] ear, a learned research”, going on to say there is “a great many Nihilists about nowadays…and indeed it is not to be wondered at”, finally straight up asking Raskolnikov if he is a Nihilist (Dostoevsky, 538). Raskolnikov responds with a muttered “N-no…”, he has realized that his definition of Nihilism is incorrect, that all of his previous beliefs he held so strongly were null and void, that he will never become the great Napoleon-esque figure he sought so strongly to be. (Dostoevsky, 538). Raskolnikov is also asked by Petrovitch if he believed in New Jerusalem. Raskolnikov’s positive answer is significant because of the fact that “New Jerusalem which he means is the Utopian perversion of it, to be built upon foundations of crime and individual self-assertion and transgression (Gibian 1).
Dostoevsky wasn’t a pessimist, however, and he ends the plight of Raskolnikov on a happy (and sappy) note. As said by Diane Telgen, Raskolnikov believed that Christianity was “the true vision of the human place in the world” so it’s fitting Raskolnikov gets his redemption (Telgen 78). Locked in prison, forced inside his own psyche, he eventually matures out of his adult angst and with the help of Sonia becomes redeemed by Christianity. Just as Raskolnikov forced Sonia to read to him the story of Lazarus, he has undergone his own “resurrection…new life” under God. Raskolnikov kisses the ground as Sonia pleads him to do (Dostoevsky 520). This is a classic Russian and pre-Christian idea that the Earth is the mother of man (Gibian 1). At the novel’s conclusion, “the river which Raskolnikov sees…is no longer a means for committing suicide…it is the river of life”; he has finally found true beauty in life, and he goes into his bed with a Bible under his pillow, for the first time in the entire novel, happy. ” (Gibian 1). What Dostoevsky is trying to say is that Russia’s psuedo-philosophers should accept Christian Communism into their hearts instead of this abhorrent false interpretation of Communism. When Raskolnikov does so, he stops suffering from guilt, shame, and madness. James Townsend has said “Dostoevsky almost seemed to embrace an in-this-life purgatory,” where people suffer while alive leading to their ultimate salvation (Townsend 1). This is true for Raskolnikov and the novel concludes with a very hopeful insight on the changed man.
Raskolnikov is a fascinating character full of ego, mystique, meaning, and development. He is elevated beyond being a one dimensional political and religious statement, and his fundamentally broken mind is what allows these political meanings to become all the more tangible. It is like Raskolnikov is a fly on the wall case study; the reader does nothing but endlessly pursue him. The novel itself is a character study, a meticulous craft for Fyodor Dostoevsky to allow a narrative to speak his beliefs to the public.
Through this ceaseless pursuit the reader not only learns of what he represents, but why these ideals are so important to accept. The reader learns to understand that Raskolnikov is Fyodor Dostoevsky’s way of putting his opposing view on Marxism and Nihilism, or rather their corrupted versions he was forced to experience living in mid to late 1800’s Russia. This is important because it elevates Crime and Punishment from not simply being an intriguing crime novel. The reader can pick up on Dostoevsky’s true intentions and ideals to understand that Crime and Punishment is also a deeply personal letter to Russia, a warning of sorts illustrating what happens when an individual chases this corrupted Communism too far into the rabbit hole, while also delivering a hopeful message, a window into a possible future of Russia through spiritual redemption and reform.
Bem, Alfred L. “Guilt in Crime and Punishment.” Trans. Robert Louis Jackson. Readings on Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Ed. Tamara Johnson. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1998. 58-62. Rpt. in Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism. Ed. Jessica Bomarito and Russel Whitaker. Vol. 167. Detroit: Gale, 2006. Artemis Literary Sources. Web. 5 Nov. 2014.
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor. Crime and Punishment. New York: Modern Library, 1947. Print.
Fiddick, Thomas C. “Madness, Masochism, and Morality: Dostoyevsky and His Underground Man.” Dionysus in Literature: Essays on Literary Madness. Ed. Branimir M. Rieger. Bowling Green, Ohio: Popular Press, 1994. 89-100. Rpt. in Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism. Ed. Kathy D. Darrow. Vol. 238. Detroit: Gale, 2011. Artemis Literary Sources. Web. 5 Nov. 2014.
Gibian, George. “Traditional Symbolism in Crime and Punishment.” PMLA 70.5 (Dec. 1955): 970-996. Rpt. in Literature Resource Center. Detroit: Gale, 2014. Artemis Literary Sources. Web. 5 Nov. 2014.
Hackett, Francis. “Crime and Punishment.” Horizons: A Book of Criticism. Francis Hackett. B.W. Huebsch, 1918. 178-185. Rpt. in Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism. Ed. Laurie Lanzen Harris and Sheila Fitzgerald. Vol. 7. Detroit: Gale Research, 1984. Artemis Literary Sources. Web. 5 Nov. 2014.
Santangelo, Gennaro. “The Five Motives of Raskolnikov.” Dalhousie Review 54.4 (Winter 1974): 710-719. Rpt. in Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism. Ed. Jessica Bomarito and Russel Whitaker. Vol. 167. Detroit: Gale, 2006. Artemis Literary Sources. Web. 5 Nov. 2014.
“Crime and Punishment.” Novels for Students. Ed. Diane Telgen and Kevin Hile. Vol. 3. Detroit: Gale, 1998. 68-94. Artemis Literary Sources. Web. 5 Nov. 2014.
Townsend, James. “Dostoevsky and His Theology.” Pravoslavie.ru. N.p., 9 Apr. 2012. Web. 5 Nov. 2014.
Uwasomba, Chijioke. “A Socio-psychological Exploration of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment.” Academicjournals (2009): n. pag. https://academicjournals.org/. Academic Journals, Apr. 2009. Web. 5 Nov. 2014.
If One Has Luck
Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment lets the reader into the mind of a murderer as he commits his crime and copes with the consequences. The novel grapples with many philosophical questions and challenges accepted ideas of right versus wrong. Many scholars agree that Dostoevsky incorporated the personalities of the people in his life into his characters, and that he had those characters deal with the issues he faced, such as the existence of God. “Champion after champion [Dostoevsky] sent forth on to the bloody field, to contend with life, as he himself contended, even until death” (Murry 4). These “champions” that he sent to “contend” with his philosophical questions include Raskolnikov, a murderer, and the seemingly unlikable Svidrigaylov. Svidrigaylov seems so unlikable because of the stories of his past that precede his appearance. Svidrigaylov’s character illustrates two concepts: what Raskolnikov would have been like if his superman theory had worked for him, and that a person who does not care about good and evil can do both extraordinary good and extraordinary evil.
Raskolnikov is a handsome ex-scholar aspiring to power. When we first meet him, he is obsessing over some task that he is considering: “he even knew how many paces it was from his own door” (Dostoevsky 3). (We later find out that the task is the murder of a pawnbroker, Alena.) He murders her to try to prove that he is an “extraordinary” man. Under Raskolnikov’s superman theory, certain “extraordinary” men exist who must allow themselves to break laws that inhibit their ideas (Dostoevsky 249).
We hear of Svidrigaylov long before he actually enters the story. Our first impression of him is not favorable, to say the least. Raskolnikov’s mother writes him a letter telling him that if she had related the “torments” his sister Dunya had suffered at Svidrigaylov’s hands, Raskolnikov would “have thrown everything up and come home” to help (Dostoevsky 28). Throughout the book, we learn that Svidrigaylov simply does what he wants, regardless of public opinion.
Dostoevsky made Raskolnikov and Svidrigaylov similar in order to illustrate Raskolnikov’s superman theory both by its success and its failure under comparable conditions (Santangelo 4). Raskolnikov realizes that Svidrigaylov is his counterpart (“[his] emphatic denial of it is evidence enough… he protests too much” [Jones 8]), and he watches Svidrigaylov with fascination (Santangelo 4). He sees himself and the future of his theory in their shared “will to power” (Leatherbarrow 4) and their belief in “the right to trespass all bounds” (Santangelo 4). He and Svidrigaylov respect Dunya (Jones 9), Raskolnikov as a sister and Svidrigaylov as evidenced by the “instant of terrible, silent struggle” in his soul when she tells him that she can never love him (Dostoevsky 477). Svidrigaylov even says that she “can inspire only the deepest respect even in a thoroughly bad character like” himself (Dostoevsky 453). Both Raskolnikov and Svidrigaylov have a fear of death, and both cross a moral line by committing purposefully violent acts: Raskolnikov murders Alena, and Svidrigaylov beats his wife, Marfa (Leatherbarrow 12).
Although Raskolnikov and Svidrigaylov have much in common, they have a fundamental difference: Svidrigaylov succeeds where Raskolnikov fails. Raskolnikov is not able to free himself from mortality, and before resorting to Christianity, he constantly had to rationalize everything he did. He cannot exemplify his own theory because he does not have the strength to be free of the ideas of virtue and goodness. His ultimate confession shows that he has both of these ideas, but he does not need either of them in order to be the “existential hero” (Bloom 36-37). Svidrigaylov, on the other hand, refuses to submit to any will beside his own. Throughout the novel, he engages in what some might call “debauchery” simply because he sees no reason to “put any restraint on [himself]… if [he has] any inclination for [it]” (Dostoevsky 451); he plays cards and, as a married man, seduces servants. He chooses to recognize himself and his will, rather than some power outside of himself, because that is what he knows (Murry 3). Svidrigaylov has freed himself completely of casuistry, and does not feel the need to base his life on the demonstration of any theory — either Raskolnikov’s or a religion’s (Bloom 37).
To Dostoevsky, Raskolnikov has the importance of a mere puppet compared to the significance of his other creation, Svidrigaylov. Svidrigaylov is the furthered, completed Raskolnikov (Murry 4). Raskolnikov’s theory stated that extraordinary people must allow themselves to proceed with actions that may not be socially or legally accepted. While Raskolnikov attempts to permit himself to murder Alena without remorse, Svidrigaylov cheats on and strikes his wife and drives a servant to suicide without a single sign of guilt. “Raskolnikov’s will is too weak to strive for complete omnipotence,” so Dostoevsky manifests his doubts about God and his “exploration of the nature of evil” in Svidrigaylov (Murry 1). The questions of whether crime and punishment exist are not answered in Raskolnikov (for whom “suffering may have been enough… though Dostoevsky leaves the proof of this to another story”), but rather in the stronger and infinitely more complex Svidrigaylov (Murry 4). Svidrigaylov is the real hero of Crime and Punishment; he has the strength to achieve what Raskolnikov could not. Svidrigaylov is the embodiment of what Raskolnikov could have been but never was (Murry 3). Raskolnikov recognizes “his superman” in Svidrigaylov’s “moral independence… [and] in his contempt for accepted laws” (Leatherbarrow 13).
Svidrigaylov is the “existential success” (Bloom 36). He feels no remorse (his “conscience is perfectly clear” with respect to Marfa’s death [Dostoevsky 270]) and does not see any meaning to life deeper than amusement. Raskolnikov wants the absolutely free autonomous will that Svidrigaylov has (Santangelo 4). Svidrigaylov does evil because something inside himself told him not to. He knows that to attain complete freedom, every such instinct must be crushed, and unlike Raskolnikov, he finds the daring within himself to do so (Murry 3). Svidrigaylov attains complete freedom, which does not necessarily connote happiness, but is freedom nonetheless (Bloom 37).
In his existential success, Svidrigaylov has passed beyond the constraints of casuistry. “He has passed beyond good and evil… [and] has willed that his will should be omnipotent. Nothing shall be forbidden him… He will [not] deceive himself by having even the faint semblance of a right upon his side. He is his own right; another can only take away from him” (Murry 3). Svidrigaylov is completely free from good, evil, shame, and prejudice (Santangelo 4); he is simply “open… to every possible experience in the universe” (Jackson 4).
Svidrigaylov is a reflection of the universe, containing the most extreme good and the most extreme evil together in him without condemning either (Jackson 4). He can therefore do what some consider the ultimate evil by happily inflicting pain on the innocent (Jackson 5-6) with no remorse at all, and continuing to appear as normal as every other person (Jackson 5). When Raskolnikov accuses him of killing Marfa, Svidrigaylov believes that he is defending himself by saying that he “gave her only a couple of blows with a riding-switch, and it didn’t even leave a mark” (Dostoevsky 270). The reader’s first impression of him is that he is the epitome of all evil (before he appears in the midst of Raskolnikov’s nightmare, we hear that he has murdered his wife, possible abused a little girl and attempted to seduce Dunya), but this is only because “the deliberate working of evil is portentous to our minds.” The reader assumes that he is evil because he does evil things, “yet this monster does good with the same even hand.” He rescues Sonya and Marmeladov’s orphans, he releases Dunya when she is entirely at his mercy even though he loves her passionately, and he financially assists a young girl whom he barely knows, asking nothing in return. He is not evil with an inclination toward good deeds, nor is he good with a penchant for evil. He is solely his own will, undivided against itself (Murry 3).
Having nothing beyond his own will, however, Svidrigaylov cannot imagine anything outside of himself, including a greater purpose or meaning of life (Santangelo 4). He has willed everything, and therefore experienced everything, and “death is the one last issue, which, being untried, must be tried” (Murry 4). This is where he and Raskolnikov differ. When Svidrigaylov says that Raskolnikov can either commit suicide or go to Siberia, he “has effectively identified the choices that lie in front of the wretched young man.” Raskolnikov chooses one option, and his “alter ego” Svidrigaylov chooses the other (Connolly 2) because he is the working example of the “superman theory.” Having passed beyond moral boundaries, he does not distinguish between good and evil, and therefore can do much of both.
Bloom, Harold, Ed. Fyodor Dostoevski. Broomall: Chelsea House Publishers, 2003.
Connolly, Julian. “An Overview of Crime and Punishment.” Exploring Novels, Gale, 1998. Literature Resource Center. 25 Jan. 2008. https://link.gale.com/apps/menu /LitRC?locID=lac57609&stab=512&ASB2=AND&docNum=H1420002019&ADVSF1=connolly&ADVST1=CN&bConts=261&vrsn=3&ASB1=AND&ste=74&tab=2&tbst=asrch&n=10&ADVST3=NA
Cox, Gary. “Part 4.” In Crime and Punishment: A Mind To Murder. Pp.81-97. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1990. Literature Resource Center. 9 April 2008. https://galeapps.gale.com/apps/auth?userGroupName=lac57609&da=true&origURL=https%3A%2F%2Fgo.gale.com%2Fps%2Fi.do%3F%26u%3Dlac57609%26p%3DLitRC%26v%3D2.1%26sw%3Dw%26it%3Dr%26id%3DGALE%7CH1420071232&prodId=LitRC
Dostoevsky, Fyodor. Crime and Punishment. New York: Oxford University Press Inc., 1981.
Gibian, George. “Traditional Symbolism in Crime and Punishment.” PMLA, Vol. LXX, No. 5, December, 1955, pp.970-96. Literature Resource Center. 1 Dec. 2007. http:// galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/LitRC?vrsn=3&dcoll=gale&locID=lac57609&c=l&ste=47&DT=Criticism&n=10&frmknp=1&docNum=H1420002015
Jackson, Robert Louis. “Introduction: The Clumsy White Flower.” 20th Century Interp. Of Crime and Punishment Ed. Eaglewood Cliffs Prentice-Hall, 1974.
Jones, Malcolm V. “Crime and Punishment: Transgression and Transcendance.” Dostoevsky: The Novel of Discord, pp.67-89. New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 1976. Literature Resource Center. 9 April 2008. https://galeapps.gale.com/apps/auth?userGroupName=lac57609&da=true&origURL=https%3A%2F%2Fgo.gale.com%2Fps%2Fi.do%3F%26u%3Dlac57609%26p%3DLitRC%26v%3D2.1%26sw%3Dw%26it%3Dr%26id%3DGALE%7CH1420071226&prodId=LitRC
Leatherbarrow, William J. “Fedor Dostoevsky.” Twayne’s World Authors Series Online. New York: G.K. Hall &Co., 1999. Previously Published in print in 1981 by Twayne Publishers. Literature Resource Center. 25 Jan. 2008. http:// galenet.galegroup. com/servlet/LitRC?locID=lac57609&ADVST2=CN&srchtp=adv&c=4&stab=512&ASB2=AND&ADVST2=William+j.+Leatherbarrow&docNum=H1472003945&ADVSF1=fedor+Dostoevsky&ADVST1=NA&bConts=514&vrsn=3&ASB1=AND&ste74&tbst=asrch&tab=2&n=10&ADVST3=NA
Murry, J. Middleton. “Fyodor Dostoevsky: A Critical Study.” Martin Secker, 1916, 263p. Reprinted in Ninteenth Century Literary Criticism, Vol. 7. Literature Resource Center. 25 Jan. 2008. http:// galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/LitRC?locID=lac576 09&ADVST2=NR&srchtp=adv&c1&stab=512&ASB2=AND&ADVSF2=dosto&docNum=H1420012877&ADVSF1=J.+middleton+murry&ADVST1=CN&bConts=514&vrsn=3&ASB1=AND&ste=74&tbst=asrch&tab=2&n=10&ADVST3=NA
Santangelo, Gennaro. “The Five Motives of Raskolnikov.” Dalhousie Review 54, no. 4 (Winter 1974-75):710-19. Literature Resource Center. 2 Dec. 2007. http:// galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/LitRC?vrsn=3&dcoll=gale&locID=lac57609&c=2&ste=47&DT=Criticism&n=10&frmknp=1&docNum=H1420071224
Wilson III, Raymond J. “Raskolnikov’s Dream in Crime and Punishment.” Literature and Psychology 26, no. 4 (1976):159-66. Literature Resource Center. 25 Nov. 2007. http:// galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/LitRC?vrsn=3&locID=lac57609&srchtp=kywrd&c=4&stab=512&ste=41&tab=2&tbst=ksrch&KA=Svidrigaylov+AND+crime+and+punishment&n=10&docNum=H1420071225&bConts=514
The Killing of Emmett till
Emmett Till was a 14 year old boy who got killed for whistling at a white woman. On August 28, 1955 Emmett was taken from his great- uncle’s house by two white men, Roy Bryant and JW Milam. Emmett Till lived in Chicago, but traveled south to visit relatives in Mississippi. Emmett Till was on a train with his great-uncle Moses Wright. Emmett’s murder sparked the upsurge of resistance and activism which became known as the Civil Rights Movement. Emmett Till was brutally beaten and killed by J. W. Milam and Roy Bryant who later disposed of his body by in a nearby river.
Emmett Louis Till was born on July 25, 1941 in Chicago, Illinois, he was an only child of Mamie and Louis Till. Emmett Till lived with his mother, and never knew his father who was a private in the United States Army during World War II. Emmett’s mother worked long hours for the Air Force as a clerk in charge of secret and confidential files, and still found time to take care of Emmett as a single mother. It was normal for Emmett’s mother to work more than 12 hours a day, so he took on his full share of domestic responsibilities from a very young age. “Emmett had all the house responsibility. I mean everything was really on his shoulders, and Emmett took it upon himself. He told me if I would work, and make the money, he would take care of everything else. He cleaned, and he cooked quite a bit. And he even took over the laundry”, said his mother Mamie Till.
Emmett had arrived in Money, Mississippi on August 21, 1995 with his great-uncle Moses Wright. Three days later on August 24, 1995, Emmett went into Bryant’s Grocery with a group of his friends to buy some refreshments after working in the sun all day. No one will ever know the exact story of what went down in the store that day, but everyone knows that it upset several people. Four days after Emmett and his friends went into the store at approximately at 2:30 in the morning Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam kidnapped Till. They brutally beat Till, dragged him to the bank of the Tallahatchie River, shot him in the head, tied him up with barbed wire to a metal fan, and shoved his body into the water to stay there forever.
Emmett had a pretty good family life. Learned how to take care of himself, and supported his mother while she was working long hours at the office by helping out around the house while she was away. Emmett Till was also very loved amunsted his family. He always listened, and was polite to everyone. He would do almost anything people asked him to do instantly. No one could quite understand why someone would abuse, and kill him like the two men did.
Emmett Till’s death had a very powerful effect on Mississippi Civil Right activist, and the whole countries view on the Civil Rights Movement. For many years people thought that African Americans bodies were not supposed to reemerge, and they certainly weren’t supposed to stir international news. His funeral was in Chicago, and over 100,000 people came to pay their respects to Emmett and his entire family. Emmett Till’s death carried into the 60s. The 60s was known as “the Emmett Till Generation,” though most white people did not see the pictures. 63 years later there are still articles, and people talking about the death of Emmett Till.
Existentialism in Dostoevsky’s Novel Crime and Punishment
Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment can be read as an ideological novel because those typically represent the social, economic, and political concerns of a culture. Dostoyevsky gives an interesting twist to this genre by examining society through the eyes of a criminal and, instead of delving into the ways in which society and culture work, exploring the ways in which they fail. He also refutes many culturally dominant ideologies, including utilitarianism and nihilism, and by doing so, gives way to the emergence of a pre-existential novel, in which the anti-hero, Raskolnikov must suffer the consequences of his choice. Raskolnikov is an existential character, mostly because, in the chain of choices that composes his life, he faces only one major decision. Ultimately, the choice that he makes is erroneous despite the rationale behind it, and the stress and tension that ensue cause him to suffer greatly. In addition, in an attempt to satisfy his own worldly desires, he tries to follow the principles of utilitarianism and predetermination, struggling to use them as justifications for his actions and goes against his own existence by attempting to embrace nihilistic attitudes. Despite his efforts, it is evident through a series of dreams that all of these concepts fail him: utilitarianism falls apart, he loses faith in predetermination, and nihilism becomes impossible. Ultimately, he finds himself unable to escape from the consequences of his own actions. In this way, Crime and Punishment becomes one of the first major existential and psychological novels.
An interesting characteristic of Crime and Punishment as an ideological novel is that conventional social rationale and morality become inverted for Raskolnikov in that he is able to justify and commit his crime while simultaneously judging and condemning the evils in other characters. Moreover, the evils he perceives – excluding those of Svidrigalov – are not traditionally considered immoral evils. For instance, Sonya’s and Dunya’s self-sacrifice would usually be considered a noble characteristic. However, interestingly enough, in terms of Raskolnikov’s existential views, self-sacrifice becomes the greatest crime of all.
Elements of the psychological novel come into play as Dostoyevsky traces Raskolnikov’s thought-process throughout the conception, perpetration, and repercussions of his crime. Specifically, Raskolnikov’s dreams function to reflect his varying psychological states as it relates to the murder; he fails in his attempts to utilize popular philosophical, social, and political ideologies to rationalize his crime, and, ultimately, is left with only his psychological suffering. There are a total of three dreams, each involving the violent beating of a person or animal while a crowd looks on. In the first dream, a lowly drunken peasant is beating a horse. The crowd has a mixed reaction to the beating; some disapprove, some simply look on, and some participate in the beating; Raskolnikov, though only a child in the dream, actively attempts to stop the beating. In the second dream, the assistant superintendent is beating Raskolnikov’s landlady. The crowd looks on and is uniformly shocked, but no one attempts to intervene, including Raskolnikov. In his third dream, Raskolnikov beats the old woman whom he murdered while bystanders look on and laugh. All three dreams are preceded by either the thought or the presence of Razumikhin, who can be said to represent honesty, innocence, and morality in the novel. This coincidence can be thought to come from Razumikhin coming to symbolize Raskolnikov’s conscience protesting his attempts to justify his crime; hence, Raskolnikov grows increasingly annoyed with Razumikhin. Razumikhin’s unwavering faith in Raskolnikov’s inherent goodness is loathsome to Raskolnikov, especially after he has committed his crime.
Prior to his first dream, Raskolnikov contemplates going to Razumikhin, who is described as “remarkable for never taking any of his failures to heart and never being unduly cast down by any circumstances, however straitened” (70). Raskolnikov initially rejects the idea of going to see him, “The question why he was now going to see Razumikhin worried him more than he realized; he was anxiously trying to find some ominous meaning in this, it would seem, quite ordinary action” (71). He then decides to postpone his trip to Razumikhin’s until after he has committed the murder. At the thought of the murder, he becomes horrified, and decides not to do it. Then, Raskolnikov’s first dream occurs, after walking around contemplating both the murder and the possibility of going to Razumikhin for financial assistance. In the dream, Raskolnikov (as a young boy) witnesses a furious peasant in a mob whipping an old mare and beating it with a hatchet until it dies. The young Raskolnikov is horrified, more so because the peasant insists that the mare is his “property” and he may do whatever he wishes with it (76). Raskolnikov’s reaction to the beating of the mare strongly contradicts his contemplations of committing murder. After he wakes, he is reaffirmed in his own horror at the thought of the murder. He says to himself, “Good God!. . . is it possible that I will really take a hatchet, hit her on the head with it . . . is it possible?” (78). In this way, the dream symbolizes Raskolnikov’s split psyche. The stress for Raskolnikov in this situation becomes the conflict between his somewhat weak sense of morality and his idea that, as Porfiry puts it, “certain people . . . have a perfect right to commit all sort of enormities and crimes and that they are, as it were, above the law” (275). Porfiry further elaborates on Raskolnikov’s ideas between the ordinary and the extraordinary. Raskolnikov defends his ideas with utilitarianism: “…the extraordinary man has a right—not an officially sanctioned right, of course—to permit his conscience to overstep certain obstacles, but only if it is absolutely necessary for the fulfillment of his idea on which quite possibly the welfare of all mankind may depend” (276).
However, Raskolnikov’s attempt to use the ideology of utilitarianism to justify murder is undermined by his horror at the beating of the horse in his dream. Although he tries to justify the murder of the old woman using the aforementioned principles, he cannot escape his horror at the thought of actually having to go through the motions of committing the crime. His first dream exemplifies this aspect of his psyche, the aspect dominated by Razumikhin’s character and his conscience. This comes into conflict with the dream because the peasant that is beating the horse is not an “extraordinary” man and the killing of a horse does not serve any greater good. However, the crowd in this dream does not entirely disapprove the beating of the horse; some even participate. This seems to imply that part of society supports the crime, although it is senseless and essentially evil, adding another layer of confusion. Raskolnikov, in the dream, is horrified that the people are allowing the beating to continue, thus undermining the reasoning for his own murder. When he awakes, he is entirely convinced that it is impossible for him to commit the crime.
After the dream, however, Raskolnikov has an experience that bizarrely unites religiosity and utilitarianism in his justification for crime. He inexplicably takes a detour on his way home and in a “sort of predestined turning point of his fate” he learns that Lisaveta Ivanovna is to be away from home during the planned time of the murder of her sister (79-80). Upon learning this, Raskolnikov “suddenly felt with all his being that he no longer possessed any freedom of reasoning or of will, and that everything was suddenly and irrevocably settled” (81). Thus, Raskolnikov, forgetting about his dream and Razumikhin, rationalizes the murder by attempting to dismiss his free will and instead rely on predetermination.
Raskolnikov’s second dream occurs after the murder. He returns home after burying the stolen items and visiting Razumikhin. It is important to note that while visiting Razumikhin, Raskolnikov becomes overwhelmed with rage, “it had not occurred to Raskolnikov that he would have to meet him face to face”; he cannot bear to meet Razumikhin face to face because he represents his conscience (130). On his way home, he is beaten in the street by “a driver of a carriage… [who] hit him very painfully across the back with his whip” (131), much like the mare from his first dream. When he finally arrives at home, he “undress[es] and trembling like a winded horse, he [lies] down on the sofa… and immediately [falls] into a heavy slumber” (133). Coincidentally, the animal imagery surrounding the second dream links it with the first one. He then dreams that his landlady is brutally beaten on the stairs. Like his previous reaction, he is horrified and “could not imagine such brutality, such frenzy” (133). The crowd, representing society, looks on in shock, but not a single person attempts to intervene. They are too weak to intervene; they merely view the assistant superintendent as a monster, which is what Raskolnikov possibly fears he has become.
After Raskolnikov has made the choice and committed the murder, he must face the negative consequences of his actions. From a utilitarian perspective, the choice that Raskolnikov made may have served the greater good; however, the psychological repercussions – the negative consequences and state of suffering – which the murder brings onto Raskolnikov, heavily overshadow any “good” which may have come from his crime. This is exemplified by his dream, which horrifies him, and yet which is about a crime not entirely dissimilar to his own. He cannot see a reason, let alone a greater good, for the beating of his landlady.
Raskolnikov’s third dream occurs when he returns home after frenziedly leaving Razumikhin and encountering the artisan in the street. Raskolnikov’s spilt psyche runs rampant in this scene. He fears giving himself away, and yet is frustrated with Razumikhin for not noticing his guilt, “Razumikhin is here, and yet he doesn’t seem to have noticed anything. That innocent booby never notices anything!” (271). Raskolnikov—or, at least, a part of Raskolnikov—wants his conscience to prevail, wants Razumikhin to figure it out, and wants to be held accountable for his crime. In the midst of Raskolnikov’s contradictory thoughts, behaviors and anxiety over his crime, there is an ideological debate between Porfiry and Razumikhin. Razumikhin argues: …The socialists reduce everything to one common cause—environment. Environment is the root of all evil… Human nature isn’t supposed to exist… That’s why they dislike the living process of life so much!… Human nature wants life… You can’t jump over human nature by logic alone! Logic can only foresee three possibilities, but there is a whole million of them! Disregard the million and reduce it all to a question of comfort? What an easy solution to the problem! So temptingly clear and no need to think at all. (273)
Razumikhin is making an argument for the process of living, for embracing human nature and the human condition, and for the value of the individual’s ability to choose. This is essentially an existential argument. Porfiry dismisses Razumikhin’s existential views and ideals and, taking a nihilistic attitude, retorts, “environment means a lot in crime” (273).
Immediately preceding Raskolnikov’s third dream, he begins to doubt nihilism and he rejects utilitarianism. Lying on his sofa, he thinks: “I was in a great hurry to step over—I didn’t kill a human being—I killed a principle! Yes, I killed a principle all right, but I did not step over—I remained on this side. All I could do was kill! And it seems I couldn’t even do that! A principle? Why was that innocent fool Razumikhin abusing the socialists? They’re an industrious people—practical men, engaged in the business of bringing about ‘the happiness of all.’ No, I live only once, and I shan’t ever live again: I don’t want to wait for ‘the happiness of all.’ I want to live, or else I might as well be dead” (291).
Raskolnikov’s attempt to pacify himself regarding his crime, “I didn’t kill a human being—I killed a principle!” is essentially an attempt to adopt a nihilistic attitude. He doubts himself, however, by questioning, “A principle?” By rejecting the notion of the “happiness of all,” Raskolnikov is essentially rejecting the utilitarianism he had previously clung to. He then proceeds to slip into his third dream, which is linked to the previous two dreams by the recurring image of the horse, “Oh, how well I understand the prophet with his sword on a horse” (292). In this dream, Raskolnikov returns to the old woman’s apartment and beats her with an axe. There is a crowd present in this dream, as well. Instead of participating, disapproving, or being shocked, however, they are laughing at him. This dovetails with Raskolnikov’s recent rejection of utilitarianism and was foreshadowed in the previous scene with Razumikhin and Porfiry. Porfiry asked Raskolnikov what happens when an ordinary man mistakes himself for an extraordinary man. Raskolnikov told him: “…that does happen quite often… quite a lot of them, owing to some whim of nature which has not been denied even to the cow, like to imagine themselves advanced people, “destroyers,” and do their utmost to proclaim the “new word” themselves… But I don’t think there is any real danger here, and it really shouldn’t worry you at all, for they never get very far” (278-9).
Raskolnikov thus articulates what has already begun to happen to him – his inability to get very far – and foreshadows his own doom. Moreover, the fact that society is laughing at him and his crime undermines his presupposition that he was an “extraordinary” man.
Ultimately, Raskolnikov’s conscience and spirituality overwhelm the other parts of his psyche and he confesses to his crime and he ultimately fails in his attempts to utilize philosophies such as utilitarianism and nihilism to justify his action. Eventually, he can no longer endure the psychological and existential sufferings and is driven to confession and to the acceptance of social punishment. Raskolnikov also foreshadowed this in his conversation with Razumikhin and Porfiry, “Whoever has a conscience will no doubt suffer, if he realizes his mistake. That’s his punishment – on top of penal servitude” (281). In conclusion, Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment can be read as an ideological novel. Dostoyevsky deconstructs the dominant ideologies of the time, using the medium of the choices and the psyche of the criminal Raskolnikov. He examines the ways in which many of the major contemporary philosophies fail to explain the cultural phenomena of criminality. In the refutation of those philosophies, he creates an essentially existential novel.
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor. Crime and Punishment. Suffolk: Penguin, 1976.
The Extraordinary is the Chaste
In Feodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, the protagonist, Raskolnikov, murders an old woman and her sister because he believes himself to be an extraordinary man. Throughout the rest of the story, Raskolnikov deals with the repercussions of his actions, and he discovers the truths and the falsehoods of his theory, and realizes the extent of his own greatness. However, Dostoyevsky believes Raskolnikov’s great man theory is false, visible in the characters of Svidrigaylov and Sonya. Raskolnikov believes that there are two types of people in existence: ordinary men and extraordinary men. The extraordinary people are called to the responsibility of revolutionizing the world, and possess certain rights beyond those of ordinary people.
When Porfiry is questioning Raskolnikov about his theory, Raskolnikov asserts the certain criteria to be the great man. The first criteria to be an extraordinary man is one must break whatever rules necessary to promote his ideas, thus advancing all of humankind. He says, “I simply intimate that the ‘extraordinary’ man has the right… I don’t mean a formal, official right, but he has the right himself, to permit his conscience to overstep… certain obstacles, but only in the event that his ideas (which may sometimes be salutary for all mankind) require it for their fulfillment.” (220). Extraordinary men can and should break the old rules in order to further his new ideas. Since the great man only breaks the rules because it is absolutely necessary, he should not feel guilty or conscious about it. If he does, he has made a mistake, and is not a great man at all. (224). However, the great man should still feel great suffering. Raskolnikov asserts this when he says, “Suffering and pain are always obligatory on those of wide intellect and profound feeling. Truly great men must, I think, experience great sorrow on the earth.” (224). The sorrow of the extraordinary is greater than the sorrow of the ordinary, because they are capable of understanding the world on a deeper level.
Raskolnikov also believes that the motive of extraordinary men is power itself. He clarifies this when tells Sonya what they need to do. He says, “What must we do? Demolish what must be demolished, once and for all, that is all, and take the suffering on ourselves! What? Don’t you understand? You will understand afterwards… Freedom and power, but above all, power! Power is over all trembling creatures, over the whole ant heap!.. That is a goal!” (279). In summary, Raskolnikov’s theory establishes that the great man has the authority and necessity to break the rules, feels great sorrow, and is motivated by the desire for power. An example of Raskolnikov’s great man theory in practice is the character of Svidrigaylov. He often breaks the rules because of his own personal ideas. He is explaining his actions to Raskolnikov when he says, “Tell me, why should I put any restraint on myself? Why should I give up women, if I have any inclination for them? It’s something to do, at any rate… … it is one thing with one person and something different with another.” (397). Svidrigaylov has adopted the idea that the rules do not apply to him. He also lacks conscience and guilt for all of his actions. He states, “My conscience is perfectly clear; there is no ulterior motive behind my offer.” (247). Since he lacks remorse for his deeds, Svidrigaylov is the extraordinary man that Raskolnikov speaks of. Despite his clear conscience, Svidrigaylov experiences great sorrow. After Dunya tells him that she will never love him, Dostoyevsky describes his overwhelming suffering. He wrote, “Svidrigaylov stayed some three minutes longer by the window; at last he turned round, looked about him, and slowly passed his hand over his forehead. There was a strange smile on his face, the weak, pitiful, mournful smile of despair.” (421). His sorrow is so great that Svidrigaylov ends his own life. His motivation for breaking the rules, like Raskolnikov’s theory, was power, specifically over young women. He describes how he gains their submission when he speaks of his dead wife. He tells Raskolnikov, “In spite of Aydotya Romanovna’s real aversion for me, and my persistently gloomy and forbidding aspect, she grew sorry for me at last, sorry for a lost soul. And when a girl’s heart begins to feel pity for a man, then of course she is in the greatest danger.” (401). Svidrigaylov fits all of the criteria of Raskolnikov’s great man theory: he consistently breaks the rules, he lacks conscience and suffers, and he is motivated by power. However, Raskolnikov completely despises him. He exclaims to Svidrigaylov, “That’s enough. No more of your wicked, base stories, you vile, disgusting, salacious creature!” (408). Svidrigaylov fits all of the criteria for Raskolnikov’s great man theory, yet it is evident to him that Svidrigaylov is not an extraordinary man. Therefore, Dostoyevsky believes the great man theory of Raskolnikov is false.
Sonya, another character of Crime and Punishment, does not meet all the criteria of Raskolnikov’s great man, but is the primary example of a truly great man in the story. However, she does fulfill some of Raskolnikov’s requirements. For example, Sonya does break the old rules, and Raskolnikov recognizes this when he says, “Haven’t you done the same? You too have stepped over the barrier… you were able to do it. You laid hands on yourself, you destroyed a life… your own (that makes no difference!).” (278). Sonya, like Raskolnikov, has committed a murder; she killed herself when she became a prostitute for the benefit of her family. She also has experienced great sorrow regarding her deeds. When Marmeladov tells Raskolnikov about the Sonya’s first night as a prostitute, he states, “She came in and went straight to Katerina Ivanovna and laid thirty silver roubles on the table in front of her without a word. She looked at her, but she did not utter a single word, only took our big green woolen shawl, wrapped it round her head and face and lay down on the bed, with her face to the wall, and her little shoulders and her whole body were trembling…” (15). Sonya does not feel she has made a wrong decision in becoming a prostitute to save her family, but that does not exclude her from great sorrow. However, Sonya differs from Raskolnikov’s great man because of her motivation behind her actions. Unlike Svidrigaylov, Sonia is not motivated by power, but by freedom and resurrection through Christ. When she was reading the story of Lazarus to Raskolnikov, she read to him, “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” (276). Sonya ardently believes that her faith in God will resurrect her from the dead, and her freedom is the true motivation behind her actions, opposing Raskolnikov’s theory. Despite that she does not fulfill the criteria of his theory, Raskolnikov is strongly draw to Sonya, and falls in love with her after he confesses his crime. Dostoyevsky describes Raskolnikov’s devout feelings for Sonya. He wrote, “But at once, in that instant, she understood. Infinite happiness shone in her eyes; she had understood, and she no longer doubted that he loved her, loved her for ever, and that now at last the moment had come…” (463). Sonya does not meet all of the requirements to be considered the great man according to Raskolnikov, yet he adores her and is redeemed when he follows her council, and is indescribably drawn to her. Sonya is the true great man. Therefore, Raskolnikov’s theory of the extraordinary man in false according to Dostoyevsky.
Throughout Crime and Punishment, Dostoyevsky uses the characters of Svidrigaylov and Sonia to disprove Raskolnikov’s theory of the extraordinary man. It is clear that the defining difference between Svidrigaylov and Sonya is their motivations. One is rooted in their selfishness and desire for power, which ended in his downfall. The other acted upon a desire for freedom and a complete denial of self, which ended in her redemption. Every man naturally desires to be the great man and, like Raskolnikov, fears whether or not he truly is. Dostoyevsky is communicating that men possess the ability to become great, but true greatness is rooted in the right motivations to act. To be truly great, to earn power and freedom, a man should not concern himself with the act itself of upturning old rules. The extraordinary people are virtuous; their actions are mere side effects of their character.
Detective Fiction Essay
Detective fiction is a sub-genre of crime fiction, thriller, and mystery, in which case a professional, and private detective investigates distinctly in a crime, and deal with real world struggles, and gain information or evidences through several methods and techniques in the process of his investigations. Yet, since most detectives in fictional genre are male, among the well know; J. J. Gittes, Dupin, spade, Holmes, etc. while female roles usually has been shown as being emotional, naive, and irrational, and the victim in the crime. However, in “The girl with the dragon tattoo” book, it shows the opposite, while the detective is a woman. Unlike, “Chinatown” film where the detective is a man. This comparison is dedicated to compare between two detectives in Chinatown, and in the girl with the dragon tattoo. Both of these are famous, and they have many differences and similarities as well. This paper will examine and compare both male and female roles, and characters as detectives, and shed the light on their methods of solving crimes, and the different approaches of both detectives in fiction crimes.
The role of male detective in Chinatown film plays a remarkable aspect of detective hard-boiled fiction. The main character is J. J Gittes, who is a private detective, which was hired to investigate in the case of mulwray’s murder. Gittes started to investigate about the people who were close to him, such as his wife, his partner in business, and people who work for him. Gittes had several methods to obtain information from these people. He used to go for them and set with them and talk, he used to communicate with them, in order to get a hint from anything they say. It was shown in the film that he went to the victim’s house, and the place he used to work, and the place where he was murdered, he follows any clue he know, and looks for any detail that could help even if it take to sneak into people’s offices and search the drawers for clues. He was full of speech lies and tricks in order to get what he wants in the case, such as using his emotions in order to get close to the Evelyn, Mulrway’s wife to know more deeply about her, and if she could be the suspect of the murder of her husband. However, his method of sneaking and going out after people, lead him to the real truth of the case. His conversation with Evelyn illustrates the whole truth. Gittes role as a detective was to argue with her about the things she has hidden it, and the reason for it. Through his controversy with others he had the ability to gather and conclude information. What specialize Gittes as a detective is that he a courageous man, who doesn’t fear to show himself out to the society, he sacrifices in order to get a little detail or clue. He likes to go into deep conversations and to know what other people think and their intentions by their talking. Through the film, Gittes looks like he doesn’t fear to be in places that he is not allowed to be in, and doesn’t fear to get caught up in it, as long as he find something that would help him figure out the solution of the case. Gittes seems very daring to face people of their mistakes, and go after them. This depicts the role of male detective who doesn’t fear to show himself, and show the truth about the people who are guilty.
In contradiction, placing the male detective role to the female detective role in the story of the girl with dragon tattoo, where the private detective is called Lisbeth Salander, who was hired first to investigate about a journalist named Mikael Blomkvist, and then to collaborate with him to solve a mysterious case that happened 40 years ago, about a disappearance of a girl. It was shown through the story that both detectives Salander and Blomkvist collaborated to gather information and evidence about the case, and each one of them used their own way to figure out something. But, Salander played a significant role, and had a unique skill at investigations. Salander was a genius computer hacker, she used her computer skills to gather information and detect evidences about people, and also she was able to access information everything about a person’s life through hacking their accounts and finds out information about them and their private life. Through reading the book, the writer Stieg portrays Salander with a spectacular intelligence, and wide imagination. “Her ability to gather information was sheer magic. She knew the bureaucratic archives inside out. Above all, she had the ability to get under the skin of the person she was investigating. If there was any dirt to be dug up, she would home in on it like a cruise missile”. (27) Thus, Stieg states that she had an astonishing female character, which has a vigorous sense of investigation, which is clearly shown via her skills with technological tools, “When she was working at the computer her fingers flew over the keys.”(28) We can infer that Salander role was relies on her knowledge of hacking, and skill of using technology. Moreover, Salander role as a detective was almost hidden, and she never show up in front of people. Because of her hacking work on computers, she does most of her investigations work hidden, in her own place, which reflects on the reason why her character is seems to be insurgent and social outcast, and doesn’t communicate much with the others. As it mentioned in the book Salander didn’t communicate with others, she didn’t has family or either friends, she was told that she’s not a person who encourages friendship. (Stieg, 39) therefore, we can deduce that Salander role as a detective was sort of strange and unique at the same time; she has the ability to investigate and solve problems, just with the use of her mind and computer, and not showing herself to the world.
To conclude, Although both detectives have similarities, like both share a particular set of characteristics which puts them aside from the average individual, thus enabling them to stretch what the human being brain is capable of to be a great detective. However, both of male and female roles as detectives in the girl with the dragon tattoo, and Chinatown was presented differently. Salander and Gittes had a very various methods in investigations. The male role was shown in Chinatown as a courageous man and well known in society, whom everybody knows as a detective, and it was shown clearly when a women came to his office asking him to investigate in a certain issue. As well as he depends on his sense of touching and seeing through the visual image. Furthermore, as a male detective he would never guess or get to the truth without the confessions of the people he argued and faced, and his relation with them helped him a lot in knowing how to get the clues and information that lead to the understanding of the whole case. His attitude toward people is to gain their trust and gain information from them, thus, he likes to socialize, in order to get, and know what he wants from them. However, what differentiate the role of female as a detective in the girl with the dragon tattoo, is that Salander was anti-social character, nobody know, and doesn’t has a family neither friends, this might be the reason why she does all her work on computer. Also, she doesn’t talk to people she is investigating about, and are suspected with a crime, she simply hack their accounts and get into their private life and knows everything she needs to by using technology, it might be the reason is her fear of society judgment of her, because of her unusual character of the usual female, and that’s why she prefers to stay hidden. Generally it always the same, women prefer to stay away when they’re doing something unfamiliar in the society, and don’t like to be judge for what she is and she does like Lisbeth Salander, while men likes to show off themselves, and to be liked, and popular in the society like J.J. Gittes. But, women apparently are cleverer, and are enable to accomplish more successful achievements in investigations. Therefore, the distinction is clear between the role of male detective, and the role of female detective, where each one had a characteristic in the process of their investigations.
The Forensic Dna Analysis
In the 1980’s, DNA analysis were found and had became a great advance crime-solving tool for investigators. DNA analysis were created to be used in crime cases and it can help clear suspects and identify criminals. Also, television shows like “CSI” had helped increase the public’s awareness of DNA analysis that can be a great advancement for investigating crimes. To get more identification and comparison, the CSI will conduct the analysis of the body fluid also including DNA analysis that are blood stains, semen, hair and saliva.
In all, DNA technology is progressively critical to assure authority and fairness in the criminal justice system. Most of the cells that make up a human body are diploid cells that has a same exact DNA, except for haploid gametes (egg and sperm) and red blood cells. The biological material that were used in DNA profiling includes blood, semen, saliva, urine, feces, hair, teeth, bone, tissue, and cells. Though some are more useful than others, the areas that used biological evidence in DNA and genetic analysis varies includes blood typing, gender determination, DNA profiling and forensic DNA phenotype. The DNA-testing technology had become a powerful criminal justice tool. It is very useful for identifying suspects for a crime investigation.
An example of a crime that was solved provided by the DNA evidence is in 2001, when serial killer Gary Leon Ridgway, also known as the “Green River Killer” was born on February 18, 1949, he held a job painting trucks for 30 years and was married 3 times. Ridgway’s killings began in 1982. He brought many of the young delinquents and prostitutes home, strangled and choke them to death, then he left them in the woods.
He eludes the law until 2001, when King County sheriff Dave Reichert, also is the first officer assigned to the case in 1982, had reconsidered and decided to have a meet up to re-examine the evidence using a newly developed DNA-testing technology. Despite a large law administration task force and a $15 million investigation, the DNA evidence has provided a major breakthrough in the series of crimes that have been unsolved for many years.
In 2013, Ridgway had claimed that he had murdered 75-80 women. But DNA evidence also can be unreliable for the potential assault of the individual who was analyzed. The DNA of the person reveals so much information, some of them had become too sensitive that had to be carefully guarded. Another disadvantages of DNA evidence is that it can be fallible. Since we leave traces of our DNA everywhere like dead skin cells, stray split, or strands of hair. It can be difficult for investigators to tell the difference about the DNA that belongs to the criminal and the DNA that had randomly find its way to the crime scene. Sometimes DNA analysis can lead to the practice of eugenics. It can allow only desirable genetic characteristics to be passed on to a generation of children. But this type of action can also be ethical because it can be considered interfering with nature and may run counter to some religious beliefs.
DNA analysis is now become an important step at a crime scene investigation. The DNA analysts will process all of the evidence that were found at the crime scene after the CSI had makes their way through the scene, collecting all the potential evidence. As a matter of policy, DNA evidence can only be used in violent crimes, including homicide and sexual assault. But after all, DNA analysis had become a major criminal justice tool that had helped so much in criminal cases.