March 2, 2012
English- Mr. Cooper
Crime and Punishment: Religious Redemption
Religious redemption is the most important theme in Crime and Punishment; Dostoevsky does a brilliant job tracing this theme over the course of the novel, he makes his point with several events and characters in the novel. The theme of religious redemption makes a great contribution to thesignificance of the novel, because it is basically the core of it; Crime and Punishment revolves around religious redemption. Dostoevsky clearly believes that all human beings are in desperate need of redemption and that it is impossible to ignore the fact that we do.
When the novel starts off, we get an image of St. Petersburg- a city in desperate need of redemption. Dostoevsky gives a broad descriptionof this city; he describes the amount of debauchery and immorality of this city; filled with drunkards, prostitutes, airlessness, pollution and stench. In the first chapter, we can already see how desperate this city and its people are for redemption. We meet a young man, named Raskolnikov. He is isolated from society, and hates being around people. He is proud, contemptuous, and lacking any sortof humanity. He sees other humans as cattle and has an obsessive self-love. He hates his pawnbroker Alyona Ivanovna and looks at her with disgust, he carefully inspects her building and her belongings, she is obviously cattle to him too, so he has been pondering whether to kill her or not.
He eventually ends up killing Alyona, and her younger sister Lizaveta in a horrid violent manner. Beforethe murder, Raskolnikov was already proud and thought of other people as cattle, he was already guilty of those sins. But now that he has murdered two people for supposed Utilitarian reasons he is a murderer, and he certainly cannot handle that. He thinks of himself as the Nihilistic superman; a person who is extraordinary and therefore above the moral laws that govern the rest of society.Throughout the novel we can observe he is not even close to a superman due to his subsequent guilt. Raskolnikov himself realizes he is not a superman because he is in desperate need of redemption.
Another part of the novel where the theme of religious redemption is highlighted is when we meet Marmeladov’s family. He is an alcoholic, but extremely prideful. Katerina, his wife, married him out ofdesperation from a bad first marriage resulting in three children and disinheritance; she is depressive, prideful due to her noble background, and extremely selfish. Marmeladov has a daughter of his own, Sonya who has been forced into prostitution to support her family.
We immediately feel terrible for Sonya and like her the moment we realize in what terrible situation she is in. We also discoverthat Marmeladov had gotten a job in the civil service, raising his family’s hopes but sabotaged going drinking instead of showing up to his first day at the job. Raskolnikov accompanies Marmeladov and gives his family a small amount of money, which later on he regrets doing; he despises them for forcing Sonya to sacrifice herself for their sake. However, Sonya has no resentment whatsoever, she iscompletely the opposite of Raskolnikov. “And What a character, furthermore, is Sonya Marmeladov from Crime and Punishment: a whore and child of God, a figure of misery who enters her father's death chamber as a flesh-and-blood saint -- but decked out, down to the red feather on her hat, with the baubles of the devil” (Jens, and Kung 247). Raskolnikov thinks they are on the same path because they areboth trapped in sin, his analysis falls flat of reality because she acknowledges God and recognizes she is in need of redemption, this sets her free.
As it says in John 8:32, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Raskolnikov seems to think otherwise, he is constantly justifying his sins and he doesn’t believe he is in need of redemption that’s why he is a slave to...