The Concept of Suffering in Crime and Punishment and Idiot

June 22, 2022 by Essay Writer

Almost all the heroes of the two novels by F. M. Dostoevsky “Crime and Punishment” and “Idiot” are compared in pairs, revealing an internal kinship or difference. Absolute opposites are the main characters of the two novels – Rodion Raskolnikov and Prince Lev Myshkin. They have a lot of differences and similarities, but one thing connects them – suffering. They have different situations in their life, while Myshkin is a rich prince, Rodion is only a thief and murderer, that wants to gain wealth easier and faster. So, who is truly suffering?

Raskolnikov dooms himself to suffering, wanting to test in practice the theory he invented. Raskolnikov’s suffering is “a product of many complex moral and material anxieties, fears, and some ideas” [2, p. 203]. Raskolnikov’s life path is a test of theory. Prince Myshkin does not invent any theories, for this, he is too incapable of life, Myshkin is a natural person: “There are such lofty ideas that I should not start talking about, because I will certainly make everyone laugh” [3, p. 211]. The attitude of the heroes to other people is also different. Raskolnikov often has a consumeristic attitude towards others, puts psychological experiments on them, driving them into the situations suggested by him (remember the conversations with the investigator Porfiry Petrovich, Svidrigailov, checking the old woman on the percentage of his theory). The whole world seems to revolve around Raskolnikov, everyone is trying to help him, make sacrifices (Sonya, Pulcheria Alexandrovna, Dunechka).

Let’s see at how the main characters of both stories are similar and different from each other. F. M. Dostoevsky succeeds in very accurately and justifiably justifying, from the point of view of the narrative, episodes of illness in the text: “At such a time, he (Myshkin) often mixes objects and faces. He really wanted to check if he was standing in front of the shop now: there was one thing that he looked at and even estimated sixty kopecks with silver ”[3, p. 179]. The artistic detail subtly fits into the logic of transferring the state of Myshkin before an epileptic seizure. But Raskolnikov is a conscious criminal; no one forced him to take the sin of murder into his soul. Raskolnikov is a rebel who does not want to put up with the unjust laws of society: “People will not change. Those who have decided on a strong deed are right ”[2, p. 237]. Raskolnikov is characterized by a mania of superiority and permissiveness.

It is interesting for the reader to follow the gradual moral purification, to observe how suffering in the ending of the epilogue is alleviated. It is important that the hero is saved by faith, compassion (joint suffering with Sonechka), he is helped by the strength of mind and character. Both of them come to the realization of the value of human life after a dream about a pestilence, in which all mankind lived according to their theory: “People killed each other in some kind of senseless malice” [2, p. 447]. Anger is a “sharply negative emotion” [4, p. 455] Raskolnikov now begins to realize that no theory is worth human life. He decides to open the Gospel, presented to him by Sonechka Marmeladova: “Can her beliefs not now be my beliefs as well?” [2, p. 459]. Only faith and infinite love of Sonya allow him to atone for all the sins for which the hero is doomed to suffering. Myshkin does not need to be cleansed of anything, he is an absolutely positive character, pure: “A perfect child, a baby” [3, p. 57] – so called embarrassing as a “ten-year-old boy” [3, p. 61] Prince adults, busy with their practical interests. In the tradition of F.M. Dostoevsky, the child always seems to be a model of innocence, sinlessness, truth and beauty. Such a positively beautiful Myshkin is incomprehensible to society.

The complexity of the study of the human emotional sphere is manifested in the dynamic development of emotions, in the possibility of the transition of one emotion to another, similar or polar. The difference between several emotions, the transition of one emotion to another, can be barely noticeable, but important in the fabric of the text of a work of art. The study of emotions in a literary text is complicated by the presence of several interpreters of the situation: a hero, author, reader. The literary text is polysemantic, allows for multiple interpretations, as shown by the scenario study of negative emotions by linguists [1]. The ambiguity of the interpretation of events is the reason for the possibility of the emergence of opposite emotions in different characters of the same situation. It is possible that the emotions experienced by the hero do not coincide with the standards of behavior existing in our readers’ minds. The hero’s desire to avoid unpleasant consequences causes the desire to hide or fake his emotions. All this event is reflected in the literary text of both novels.


Read more