Crime and Punishment

Isolation in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment College

Though its many pages and complex themes and ideas may be frustrating to undergraduate students, it cannot be denied that Fyodor Dostoevsky's novel Crime and Punishment is anything less than a literary masterpiece. It explores a myriad of themes - the psychology of crime, nihilism, poverty, the idea of a “superman,” transcendent Christian values, the journey to redemption, alienation from society. While isolation may not be quite as apparent as a few of these other themes, it is equal, perhaps even superior, in importance. Indeed, it may be said that it is isolation that causes Raskolnikov, the protagonist, to commit his crimes and then it is isolation that ultimately leads him to the beginnings of his journey to redemption.

Raskolnikov, an impoverished student who is entertaining the nihilistic ideals that were sweeping St. Petersburg during his time, is in a severe place of isolation. He lives in relentless poverty which separates him from the majority of society. He has one only friend, Razumikhin, and he does not appear to cultivate a close or meaningful relationship with Razumikhin. The relationship with his own mother and sister is also one that is strained and distant. Additionally, he has begun to subscribe to ideals...

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