Crime and Punishment

The Extraordinary are the Virtuous 12th Grade

In Feodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, the protagonist, Raskolnikov, murders an old woman and her sister because he believes himself to be an extraordinary man. Throughout the rest of the story, Raskolnikov deals with the repercussions of his actions, and he discovers the truths and the falsehoods of his theory, and realizes the extent of his own greatness. However, Dostoyevsky believes Raskolnikov’s great man theory is false, visible in the characters of Svidrigaylov and Sonya. Raskolnikov believes that there are two types of people in existence: ordinary men and extraordinary men. The extraordinary people are called to the responsibility of revolutionizing the world, and possess certain rights beyond those of ordinary people.

When Porfiry is questioning Raskolnikov about his theory, Raskolnikov asserts the certain criteria to be the great man. The first criteria to be an extraordinary man is one must break whatever rules necessary to promote his ideas, thus advancing all of humankind. He says, “I simply intimate that the ‘extraordinary’ man has the right… I don’t mean a formal, official right, but he has the right himself, to permit his conscience to overstep… certain obstacles, but only in the event that his ideas...

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