“All I can say is, it nearly finished me. It was like having an illness”
That was the feeling reflected by R L Stevenson after reading Crime and Punishment.Probably, he was reflecting the thoughts of myriad readers through this confession. I pick up this book at a tender age and almost took it as a crime thriller. It was a page turner but slowly, the character Raskolnikov started invading my emotions. I feel like being tormented in a dark room of solitary confinement.
Who was Raskolnikov?
Was he someone who proffered to take up a difficult task to prove that human beings should elevate his existence to the next level by bye passing rules and regulations? Or was he someone who was enthused by Napoleon and was nurturing obsequious genuflection over the his dogma! Laws are meant to be broken and that sets you apart from other human beings.
What made him do this? Is it something personal or ideological which remains as a myth? Razumikhin extend help to his friend Raskolnikhov to come out of the penuries as he opt to confine himself in the small rented room in St. Petersburg. He decided not to take favour from anyone as he got bigger plans.
He identified an elderly lady Alena, who was a pawn broker as his prey. For two days, he engaged himself with the meticulous plan to murder Alena. Once when he executed it, he had to kill Alena’s cousin, Lizaveta who was present in the same room.
Raskolnikov proved himself to be capable of breaking the rules established by human beings. But, what about his conscience? He cannot find a better hideout to escape from his own conscience. He was subjected to extreme suffering and the interrogation by detective Porfiryon psychological ground left him devastated.
Finally, he found solace in Sonya who was a prostitute but guided by Christian values. Raskolnikov kisses her feet and told “I did not bow down to you, I bowed to the whole of suffering humanity” .This is one of the most famous dialogues ever written in the history of world literature. The chaste relation with Sonya kindled the element of compassion and sensitivity in him.
Raskolnikov confesses about his sin to Sonya which was overheard bySvidrigaylov who wanted to marry Dunya (Raskolnikov’s Sister). Svidrigaylov represent someone who is not bothered about the morality and confession and path of atonement was not his ways. Finally, he ended his life in suicide and he represent the would be fate of Raskolnikov provided he would have chosen to remain in his original state of mind.
The real punishment emanate from one’s conscience. Svidrigaylov was someone who never had this quality. Raskolnikov developed his quality by virtue of his association with Sonya and his own intellectual capability. He reached the stage of break down and offer himself before the law of the state which he wanted to challenge at one point of his life.
Finally, he was sent to Siberia for penal servitude and Sonya follows him. Sonya represents the human element of Raskolnikov who follows him where ever he goes. A perfect mystic ending!
Dostoevskyis a master literary stalwart who got the genius to reflect ideas through symbols. Each and every character, dreams, situations etc. in this novel represent myriad scenarios. The characters will start projecting their nature in such a manner that the readers will develop empathy of the highest order with them! No wonder, R L Stevenson was left with agony – Just like any other reader!
Those who are in love with letters and words – never miss it!