Crime and Punishment

Superman is dead! Dostoyevsky's View of the Ubermensch Theory

"The extraordinary...have the right to commit all kinds of crimes and to transgress the law in all kinds of ways, for the simple reason that they are extraordinary." [1] Dostoyevsky's main characters are divided into two philosophical categories. The first group maintains that man is not equal, but divided into two groups--the ordinary and the extraordinary. Ordinary people are trapped within the laws and traditions of society, existing only to reproduce their own kind. The extraordinary, on the other hand, have the moral right to break the law if their transgression is for the betterment of humanity. The second group believes that all people are equalthere is no ubermensch, or superior man, who has the right to harm others for personal gain. Dostoyevsky opposed the ubermensch theory, revealing this in his portrayal of characters. Those who upheld the idea of a Superman appeared negative while opponents were regarded with admiration.

Svidrigalov in Crime and Punishment, and Fyodor Karamazov in The Brothers Karamazov, were proponents of the Superman idea. Svidrigalov is the epitome of this philosophical outlook at an extreme. His sole objective was to satisfy his physical desires, no matter what means were necessary...

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