Crime and Punishment

Understanding Raskolnikov Through His Subconscious in Crime and Punishment

Dreams are considered a link to one's unconscious, able to offer explanations that "... the dreamer could not invent for himself in his waking state," (46). Sigmund Freud made revolutionary strides with the psychological implications of dreams in the late nineteenth century. But before Freud, Feodor Dostoevsky was using dreams as a powerful, psychological tool in his novel, Crime and Punishment. Dostoevsky manipulates his protagonist, Raskolnikov (Rodion)'s, dream of a dying horse to indicate the source of his isolation to the reader and also comments on Raskolnikov's later theories.

In order to demonstrate a pointed change in Raskolnikov's nature from before the event to after the event, Dostoevsky presents a very young Raskolnikov bearing traits that are pointedly absent from the adult version. In the beginning of the dream sequence, Dostoevsky describes the love Rodion has for the church, "with its green cupola," (47). Rodion's spirituality is emphasized when he kisses the grave of his dead brother, who he never met. The fact that Rodion exhibits great respect and affection for a person who he never knew (let alone loved) deeply contrasts to the older Raskolnikov, who is so disgusted...

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