Crime and Punishment

The Dialogic Mode in Crime and Punishment

“Kill her, take her money and with the help of it devote oneself to the service of humanity and the good of all. Would not one tiny crime be wiped out by thousands of good deeds? One death, and a hundred lives in exchange.” (Dostoevsky, 69)

At precisely the right moment, Raskolnikov stumbles into a ‘miserable little tavern’ and overhears these eerily fateful words between a student and an officer. The student goes on to argue that it is the role of a select few – extraordinary persons – to ‘correct and direct nature’ in instances where it would benefit the whole; yet when friend challenges him, he quickly and feebly remarks that he is only ‘arguing for justice’ and could never commit such a base act – thus demoting himself to the grade of inferior, ordinary folk. Indirectly, however, the student has unknowingly incited the act that he supports only in theory, by nurturing and vindicating the very same idea that had been growing within the eavesdropping Raskolnikov. Indeed, the fated timing of this encounter further convinces Raskolnikov that it is a ‘guiding hint’ of an ‘inescapable pre-ordainment,’ which compounds his budding belief that he is of the extraordinary few that are permitted to breach moral codes in certain, extreme...

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