Crime and Punishment

The Epilogue's Necessity to a Christian Theme

Although Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment has a primarily social theme, it offers an interesting approach to the Christian interpretation of man. Through the self-destructive experiences of Raskolnikov, the reader is drawn to see the fallacy of human individualism when carried to the extreme. However, Dostoevsky also provides a hopeful message which teaches that through humility and love, even the most vile of men can be reformed. Raskolnikov finds the path to reformation through Sonia, who teaches Raskolnikov about love's power to release one from the chains of guilt. When considered with this theme in mind, the epilogue to Crime and Punishment is a powerful and necessary addition which enhances the overall structure and theme of the novel.

At the beginning of the novel, the reader becomes acquainted with Raskolnikov. One can see evidence of Christianity in his character immediately after he commits murder. After attempting to prove his theory of an "extraordinary individual," Raskolnikov is afflicted with guilt. He realizes that his theory is wrong and begins to seek relief from his troubled conscience. Dostoevsky writes that Raskolnikov "drove away thought" and "he only knew, one way or...

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