Crime and Punishment

Irony in Crime and Punishment

The primary conflict in Crime and Punishment is the internal development of Raskolnikov's character. In Raskolnikov's mind are two contrasting personalities, each demanding control over him. One side, brought out by poverty and egoism, is the murderer who kills the pawnbroker. The other side, inspired by the love of others and his inner goodness, is his benevolent conscience which desires to help those around him. The conflict rages on throughout the whole novel, and in the end Raskolnikov's good side wins over as he accepts his guilt, admits to his wrongness, and turns his life over to Sonia and God. In Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky attempts to portray the complexity of Raskolnikov's mental evolution. A primary vehicle for this task is his use of the literary device irony. Irony is the contrast between what is said and what is meant, or what happens and what is expected to happen. In verbal irony, characters say the opposite of what they mean. In situational irony, the unexpected happens. Crime and Punishment is abundant with both verbal and situational irony, as it instigates the critical turning points of Raskolnikov's development, and thus allow Dostoevsky to convey his message that even a murderer...

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