Crime and Punishment

Suffering in Crime and Punishment

Fyodor Dostoevsky once stated, "Nothing is more seductive for man than his freedom of conscience. But nothing is a greater cause of suffering" (Eiermann). Existentialism insists that human life is understood in terms of one's unique experience. Thus, being nothing or accomplishing nothing in life suggests failure and is a source of suffering. A particular example is Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, where a young Russian student, Raskolnikov, murders an old pawnbroker to prove his Extraordinary Man theory, which suggests that the extraordinary may transgress the law of ordinary or inferior men. Immediately following his crime, Rodya experiences severe illness and emotional conflicts as he confronts issues with his family, the Marmeladov family, and the police during his gradual steps to confession. The motif of the need of suffering is used throughout the novel to produce the book's theme: great suffering leads to salvation and the expiation of man's sins. In Crime and Punishment, several characters undergo much pain and personal anguish, binding the apparent motif of suffering to the theme, and providing a strong unifying element throughout the story.

Though many readers often conceive...

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