Chris Reichow‎ > ‎TWS Archive‎ > ‎

Crime and Punishment

Crime & Punishment

Chris Reichow
Mr. Meester
Crime & Punishment Essay
10 September 2001

People in all walks of life experience conflict as a part of everyday living. To many, it
seems as if conflict arises concurrently internally and externally, as if some outside force bound
the two together. This phenomenon is very evident throughout Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime &
Punishment as he depicts a young man, Raskolnikov, going through a traumatizing part of his
life. Raskolnikov, a former student, who is educated and handsome, yet has no job, lowers
himself to the level of a common criminal, by robbing and murdering an old lady and her sister.
Although in his eyes, Raskolnikov actually thought himself to be above the law, thinking he in
some way was better than everyone else. Thus, the story progresses as Raskolnikov holds back
the inner turmoil he faces from the grisly murders he committed. In the time beginning right
before the murders until months after, Raskolnikov faces both internal and external conflicts,
which seem to be linked, as if the external conflicts almost catalyzed the internal ones.
The book opens with Raskolnikov in a deeply impoverished state, who depends on
money given to him, both by his mother and others, to live. Even though he is very poor,
Raskolnikov manages to still think of himself as a very educated and smart man, he even goes so
far as to think that he is aloof from everyone else. Since Raskolnikov was in such a state, his
mind began to wander and he came up with a terrible crime to commit, the murder of an old
woman who pawned items. He thought this old woman, Alyona Ivanovna, had no value to
society at all, and thus he deserved her money more than she did. This being Raskolnikov's first
murder, he doesn't plan it very well and many circumstances work against him such as Lizaveta
walking in as he committed the murders forcing him to murder her as well, but he only escapes
by luck. After that, he becomes very sick and eventually he gets better physically, but mentally
he is still troubled. For instance, when he goes out to the police station shortly after the murder,
he thinks to himself along the way "If they ask, maybe I'll tell the them…" (94) Then later, he
thinks again, "I'll walk in, fall on my knees and tell them everything…" (94) Then he faints as
soon as someone mentions the murders. Thus, he faces oncoming suspicion by the police, and
the only reason they don't suspect him immediately is because of his sickness. As this happens,
Raskolnikov's mind is racing; he believes that what he did what right, but deep inside he knows
it was wrong. He faces the police externally and internally he faces his conscience, which forces
suspicion upon Raskolnikov.
Another conflict that Raskolnikov faces is when Porfiry Petrovich directly accuses him of
the crime. "But you did, Rodion Romanych! You killed them, sir…" (456) Raskolnikov is taken
aback and almost slips up. He thinks that he really should confess to the terrible crimes he
committed, but he didn't make up his mind yet. Raskolnikov debates inside himself whether or
not to confess. Luckily, right before he is about to break down, one of the painters in the
building, Nikolai, confesses to the murder. This presents another problem to Raskolnikov,
whether or not to let another man pay for his own crimes. Raskolnikov leaves, and is traumatized
both by this innocent man and his new love, Sonya, weighing down upon him. Eventually, he
goes in to the police station and confesses for his crimes. For Raskolnikov, that was the end of
his inner turmoil. He no longer had to hide and run from others. For the first time, Raskolnikov
sees the error in his ways and repents for them.
Through these tumultuous times, Raskolnikov faces many conflicts and he is troubled
both internally and externally. He deals with each situation in two ways, which cause him even
more torment. He analyzes everything as far as he can, yet never reaches a true conclusion. Thus,
he always is tormented by his own thoughts and never finds rest until he shares his thoughts with