Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment Part One: The Symbolic Importance of Raskolnikov's First Dream 11th Grade

In “Part One” of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s famous 19th century novel Crime and Punishment, the beleaguered former-student Raskolnikov feverishly contemplates committing a “vile” crime, which is eventually revealed as the murder of local pawnbroker Alyona. Raskolnikov's inner turmoil as he considers this crime takes the form of an ominous, frenzied delirium, manifested primarily by somatic symptoms. While this sickness paints a clear picture of Raskolnikov's sense of agitation and unrest, it fails to elucidate any rational explanation of the terrible but nondescript crime he contemplates. This inability to vocalize his intentions leaves Raskolnikov feeling deeply conflicted but ultimately paralyzed to make any decision.

Before Raskolnikov can take any true action, he must acknowledge his murderous desires to himself. His drunken dream on the lawn serves as a clear turning point in this internal battle. It’s primary event -- the beating to death of a mare unable to pull her heavy cart -- stands in for Raskolnikov's own potential crime and the conflict between its two main characters is analogous to Raskolnikov's deep internal confliction. Able to symbolically articulate both his murderous desires and his resulting inner turmoil...

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