Crime and Punishment

Dostoevsky's Existentialism in Crime and Punishment 12th Grade

A key tenet of existentialism is that as humans, we are all surrounded by absurdity. The very world we live in is absurd, and our actions are the only thing that we have complete control over. In Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov faces the absurdity of his world by attempting to overstep the veiled social boundaries encountered in Saint Petersburg. In The Stranger by Albert Camus, protagonist Meursault seems to accept the absurdity of his world for the majority of the novel, up until the conclusion, in which he accepts the inevitability of death and the lack of absurdity in such a constant. In the film Crimes and Misdemeanors, Judah confronts the absurdity of his world by taking action and murdering his mistress, later coming to terms with what he has done. Although the respective protagonists of Crime and Punishment, The Stranger, and Crimes and Misdemeanors all confront the absurdity of their worlds in different ways, they are similar in the sense that they uncover universal truths during their existential battles.

In Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov confronts the absurdity of his world by attempting to change it using his actions. The city of St. Petersburg as a whole in Crime and Punishment is full of...

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