Crime and Punishment

Dostoevsky's Existentialist Doubles 12th Grade

Can humans accept responsibility for their own deeds once they become aware that they have free will? Crime and Punishment is a platform for Dostoevsky’s own existentialist argument that attempts to answer the above question. Arguing against previous existentialists, who believed a blind faith in God can coexist with individual freedom, Dostoevsky attempted to remove the need for God. His discussion correlates with the ideas of philosophers well ahead of his time, such as Jean-Paul Sartre. Their concept rested on the right to free will, which entails full responsibility, as there is no higher being. Rodion Raskolnikov, Dostoevsky’s main character, conceives a theory in which the existentialist idea applies to a few, the extraordinary, who are not accountable for their actions. The ordinary, however, will always be responsible. He has yet to realize that there is no difference in terms of accepting responsibility between the extraordinary and the ordinary. While the protagonist is attempting to prove his being an extraordinary man, he encounters Arkady Svidrigailov, the epitome of existentialism as he acts with free will. The establishment of foils and exposition of consequent dialogue between Raskolnikov and Svidrigailov...

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