Crime and Punishment

Reason and Instinct: Siblings in Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment 12th Grade

If different kinds of motivation were to be viewed on a spectrum, there would be quite a distance between instinct and reason. While instinct denotes an animalistic impulse, reason implies careful deliberation, a process that involves employing logic in order to form judgments. In Fyodor Dostoevsky's novel Crime and Punishment, instinct and reason are both present, but operate on different levels to serve as forms of motivation for siblings Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov (or Rodya) and Avdotya Romanovna Raskolnikov (or Dunya). While Rodya tries to convince himself that his actions are the fruits of meticulous calculation, animalistic impulses are what ultimately trigger his actions. Dunya’s actions appear to be motivated by an innate instinct to care for her brother, but she does not carry out her actions without backing them up with careful reasoning. Dunya repairs the reputation of an instinctual nature by bringing its merits to light, undoing the damage inflicted upon it by Rodya’s actions.

Initially, Rodya’s plan to kill the pawnbroker, Alyona Ivanovna, appears to be a well-thought out scheme: he visits her house to get an idea of the setting, tries to find out when her sister will not be home, and devises a method of...

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