Raskolnikov is the main character and protagonist of the novel, whose frustration with his poverty leads to his moral decay. Rodion was once a well off student, but once in destitution he fails to pick himself back up and becomes susceptible to false and immoral notions. One instance includes when Raskolnikov’s haughty disdain portrays him to believe that the Marmeladov’s are a despicable family who should never be pitied.
In another instance, his pompous perception causes him to justify his actions with fate as an excuse, and “that what he planned…was not a crime.” (Dostoevsky 69). Although Raskolnikov detested his depraved mind, he still believed that the conversation between the student and officer at a bar, and Lizaveta’s absence, were signals to execute his immoral deed.
Character Analysis on Dunya
Dunya is the sister of Raskolniknov who is also in a state of destitution, but unlike Raskolnikov, she seeks a way out of poverty. Dunya hasn’t seen Raskolniknov for three years and the first time he hears about his sister again is when Pulcheria writes Rodion a letter that Dunya will be getting married.
In the letter it is conveyed that Dunya will marry Mr. Luzhin in order to aid her family in their economic hardships. Dunya shows signs of selflessness when Pulcheria states, in the letter, “she loves you infinitely more than she loves herself.” (Dostoevsky 37). Dunya is conveyed as unselfish in the letter, but it can be implied that she is also marrying Mr. Luzhin in order to pull herself out of her hardships.
Analysis on how Raskolnikov’s living conditions affected him
The deprived living conditions in St. Petersburg creates an ominous and paranoid tone throughout the novel, as Raskolnikov becomes affected by his surroundings. The filth of the city corresponds to Raskolnikov as the destitution of the streets transposes to the immoral grime of his conscious.
While Raskolnikov seeks to survive and in turn pawns all the valuables he has, he becomes easily affected by his emotions and grows a loathing for Alyona. Through the course of the novel, it can be portrayed Rodion desires to put an end to Alyona’s life with statements such as, “Aliona…the woman whom Rasknolnikov had been to see yesterday, to…size up his project” , and in the end succeeds to do so. (59).
At first, he views such a thought as completely debauched, but as the story progresses and the world around him influences his decaying mind, he gradually finds justification for his dissolute deed. Raskolnikov’s steady drift toward a life of corruption in consequence builds an ominous and paranoid tone as he is constantly ponders about the execution of his wicked plan.
The overall tone of the novel can be seen when Raskolnikov justifies his actions by believing that he is a tool of fate that must pull through with the murder. Rodion attempts to stay clear of the iniquitous notions around him, but he is too fragile; without a paying occupation and a significant proportion of food, he cannot fend of the malevolence. An instance of such susceptibility is when the narrator states, “He particularly ceased to believe in his own most resolute decisions.” (Dostoevsky 69).
Raskolnikov was once a moral individual who ostracized all notions of decadence, but as he slowly decays from destitute living conditions, the tone of Crime and Punishment alters as he becomes vulnerable to the ideas of those in his atmosphere.
Analysis on how Raskolnikov’s news on the marriage drives action
When Raskolnikov gets a letter from Pulcheria that Dunya will be getting married, Rodion gives into readily adopted assumptions, which drive him to end the marriage. When Raskolnikov first reads the letter, he becomes enraged at the fact that Dunya would marry someone for her own brother.
Throughout the time that Raskolnikov reads the letter, Rodion forgets that Dunya might also be marrying Luzhin for her own gain, so that she may become economically stable. Rodion seems to block this notion from his mind as his pride causes him to believe that the only reason Dunya is marrying is to aid her family.
An instance of Raskolnikov’s pompous thought is when he states, “…for her brother, for her mother – she’d sell herself! She’d sell everything!” (42). Also, Raskolnikov is not solely driven by his self-important conscious, but is also disgruntled that Dunya would marry Mr. Luzhin without familiarizing herself. Rodion states that when trust can’t be built in a marriage, respect will follow suit and be devoid.
Raskonikov becomes determined to end the marriage as he adopts the idea that only when Dunya gets to know Luzhin “gradually and thoroughly”, shall she marry him. (Dostoevsky 40). A reason that Raskolnikov falls into this train of thought is that he confirms Mr. Luzhin to be an extremely skeptical individual who only desires to marry Dunya in order to have control as her savior. Since, Raskolnikov feels that Dunya is being taken advantage of, he desires to put an end to such desecration.
Raskolnikov’s drive to halt Dunya from matrimony with Mr. Luzhin is driven by numerous factors: lack of respect, deception, pride; all of which he categorizes as reasonable motives for his action
Dostoevsky, Fyodor. Crime and Punishment. Trans. Constance Garnett. New York: Modern Library, 1950.