Monday, 28 December 2009

Crime and Punishment

Fyodor Dyostovesky , in his book, has so deftly posited the contrasting ideals that the reader, as Raskolnikov aka Rodya, keeps wondering which side is he on. It moves on like a delirium , not only for the characters but also for the reader. In the ravings and introspection of Raskolnikov reader loses himself. And yet, it never becomes predictable, and always keeps the reader guessing. Besides the ideological and psychological standpoint, the book fares well as a masterful detective novel. The language is rich and sumptuous. After reading the very first page, I knew, this is the kind of book one would love to read.

Raskolnikov's idea of crime, fits very neatly into our conceptions of conduct of society. What is crime? Breaking the order. And this is allowed or rather expedient of those who could bear their conscience over doing it. Rather , they shall be worshiped for doing it. The whole divide between Ordinary and Extra-ordinary lies in there. Former shall always obey, guide and move according to strictures. They don't have the capacity to bear a crime. If , as it generally happens, few of them wrongly assume their quality of being extra ordinary, they wouldn't go too far. Their own conscience will drub them. While from the extra ordinary such acts are desirable, even killing, as it serves for a higher purpose. He compares and contrasts the entire history of civilization with these ideas. Napoleon , an extra ordinary person too committed crime, but he is venerated for it, as he could carry his crime on his sleeves and convince that it was for a greater purpose. He had the capacity to trump over his own conscience , which alas ordinary don't possess.

Rakolnikov, depressed by the perennial poverty and hardships, develops such militant ideas and assumes himself to belong to the category of extra ordinary. He murders a "louse", in order to affirm his own capacity to kill by virtue of being extra ordinary. The act is committed on the pretext of stealing the money and solve his personal problems, but as the act is committed he forgets that purpose of his.

However, the murder stars weighing heavily on Raskolnikov. He remains for the most part in delirium and identifies the fallacy of his personal ideology. He remains reluctant to accept it though. At this point the author has deliberately left it ambiguous ( and which is later intensified) whether he considers himself mistaken in his position of the social standing or whether the ideology itself is fallacious. He later finds refuge in the hands of Sonya, who is a prostitute, driven by social conditions. Like himself, he considers her a criminal, who is supposed to bear the pain and suffering. Sonya, accepts Raskolinikov and guides him to accept his crime and redeem himself.She moves him to suffer and redeem faith. Raskolnikov , later accepts his crime in the bureau.

Epilogue , seems to be very different from the flow of the book. Raskolnikov gets a mild punishment of eight years imprisonment in Siberia and is accompanied by Sonya. With her presence, he realizes that he loved her and he sets on the path of redeeming himself.

In the ending portion Dyostovesky has lend a Christian end to the tale( drawing parallel with the tale of Lazarus), which sits very incoherently with the book. In a way, Raskolnikov's ideology is portrayed to be a fallacious idea. While, it would have been Raskolnikov's ordinariness that drove him to that point. It has to be noted however, that the author doesn't make his stand very clear , even at the end. Rodya, seeks redemption in the prison with Sonya , but whether he still holds on to the ideology is not described.

In my personal view,Raskolnikov committed a crime, which was heavier than what his conscience could bear. He imagined himself to be an extraordinary person while he was in actuality an ordinary person only. However, in the journey he realized it, and he redeems himself of that crime and pleads guilty. He rediscovers faith. It was in his journey of action to redemption that his path lay. An another perception of it, is that the act is what is good or bad, not the person and person can choose what he wishes to do. Yet, it never does make a person good or bad. Rakolnikov's alter ego are Svidrigailov and Sonya. Former, chooses bad deeds as his path and in the end kills himself. Sonya, however, redeems herself and in effect Raskolnikov as well and continues existence. Existentialism , irrespective of goodness or badness, had its birth in Dyotovesky's works.

A must read.

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