Essay, Research Paper: Crime And Punishment

Literature: Crime and Punishment

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Evil is a character in nature that is marked by bad moral qualities bringing
about harm and misfortune. In a rational world, with a superior goal demanding
righteousness and peace, evil disrupts society and results in sorrow, distress,
or calamity. Evil is an almighty force of nature that has forever corrupted
societies relentlessly, never to be halted. As far back as history will tell,
evil has shown it's wicked face. Evil has transgressed through centuries,
hindering those who it has come to and sometimes the environment surrounding.
This dire forceful has seeded traits in mankind that have grown due to society.
Forces of it's strong antithesis, good, have fought to overcome and be rid of
evil succeeding at times maybe in battle but never in the war. It seems that due
to the caliber of its force and prevalence in society, man may never see an end
to evil. Supporting this theory is the fact that there is a never-ending battle
to resolve this sinister force. Evil has shown so overpowering that it is part
of every creature and being in the known world. It comes in many different
forms, styles, and shapes. Everyday life consists of many types of evil showing
forth, disguising itself at times or at other putting itself in a clear eye's
view. This all depends on the creature it is within. Those who consider or have
been considered by society as "good” are the ones that have resisted and
fought off this compelling force. On the contrary, as nature has revealed, evil
in some creatures is too much a part of them for it to be held down. Resulting
factors illustrate the argument to the belief that evil results when man
interrupts natural processes. (Americana 731) Philosophers and educated people
alike, for centuries have argued the conflict of nature versus nurture as two
possible causes of evil in man. The nature theory supports that man is
inherently evil in a sense that there is no one to blame for his or her evil but
oneself. On the other hand, the idea of nurture relays the cause of evil in man
due to his society, environment, and peers. Instances throughout time, have
brought evidence to support both theories defining why the conflict still
exists. In order to decide if the cause is nature or nurture in a certain
occurrence, one can break the evil into three categories of moral, radical, and
metaphysical. These broad categories entail different "kinds" of evil
broken down into groups, putting them in order of harshness according to the
form in which they appear. In the novel Crime and Punishment, the author Feodor
Dostoevsky paints a picture of a man's environment and how evil has affected
him. This "environment" reveals a dark, depressing society lurking
with instances of evil. Through his characters' trials and tribulations,
Dosteovsky answers the question of the cause of evil in man in the forms of
moral, radical, and metaphysical. Crime and Punishment portrays evil mostly in
the main character Raskolnikov. This main character is constantly weathered with
mixed emotions driving him at times almost to delirium. Dosteovsky focuses
frequently upon the wicked, yet normal mind of Raskolnikov. Dosteovsky's
powerful appeal to our intellectual interests is most directly and naturally
linked to the action. (Rahv 592) In other words, Dosteovsky is showing how a
relatively intelligent person is vulnerable to indulge in such pure evil. Moral
evil categorizes evil as wrongful actions done knowingly to misfortune or harm
in a society consisting of moral principles. Examples in past and present time
include common traits such as greed, lust, and hate. Particular crimes
associated with moral evil are robbery, rape, and extortion. These actions are
subject to judgment and punishment, mitigation, and aggravation, repentance and
remission. (Shattuck 76) The main character, Raskolnikov displays two instances
of moral evil. Although, these occurrences are not in relation to one another;
they still hold the same breakdown or category. Raskolnikov through his confused
state plots and commits the murder of a pawnbroker. During his past experiences
doing business with her and due to the talk in the city, he became knowledgeable
of her vast riches. In addition, he even knew where in her home she kept them.
One day Raskolnikov overheard a conversation of two men on the street, "She
is quite famous.... She always has money to lay out. She's as rich as a Jew, she
can put up her hand on five thousand rubles at once, and yet she doesn't turn up
her nose at the interest on a ruble!" After fiercely beating the old woman
to death, Raskolnikov crept into her room and began to rummage through her
belongings, pocketing all the jewels and other riches he could find.
"Hastily he began turning everything over, and found a number of gold
articles thrust in among the rags, bracelets, chains, pins, and so forth,
probably pledges, some of them perhaps unredeemed. He began to cram them hastily
in them pockets of his overcoat and trousers." (Dosteovsky 76) This
instance entailed the crime of robbery that stemmed from his personality trait
of greed that overpowered his conscience. Peter Petrovich, Raskolnikov's
sister's fiancй, displays his moral evil side by framing a young girl.
Petrovich devised and followed through with a plan to accuse an innocent person
of stealing by purposely planting evidence on them. His victim was Sonya
Seminovna, who was a daughter of Raskolnikov's friend Marmeladov. Petrovich
invited Sonya to his friend Lebezyatnikov's apartment, where he gave her ten
rubles (Russian currency) as a charity. He stealthily slipped a one hundred
ruble note into her jacket as she was exiting the apartment. With this, he
proceeded to enter a gathering at the home of the landlord of the building in
which Sonya and her family dwell. At the gathering, Petrovich viciously accused
Sonya of the crime, and even had her searched. With this, the supposed stolen
money was found on Sonya resting Petrovich's case. Lebezyatnikov followed by
stepping in and explaining the truth of the matter. This demonstrated how
Petrovich set Sonya up, changing the surrounding people's belief of Sonya's
alleged crime. Petrovich's evil in this situation was greed. He wanted
Raskolnikov's sister and mother to loathe Sonya. Peter knew that this accusation
would upset them, and cause them to think little of Sonya. Also this would turn
them against Raskolnikov. The reason being that Petrovich told the ladies that
Raskolnikov had given the money they sent him to Sonya, not to Sonya's family.
Basically he was attempting to bring problems to who he hoped was soon to be his
family. Raskolnikov reveals another type of moral evil without his physical
actions included. Raskolnikov had a strong hatred for Peter Petrovich. After his
sister lost her position as a governess, income situations for her, her mother,
and Raskolnikov became tight. Peter Petrovich was a wealthy bureaucrat, which
enticed Dunya to marry him, knowing the benefits financially for her family.
Raskolnikov despised Peter Pervich for who he was and forbid such a marriage. He
loathed the fact of his sister marrying to help him and his mother. "This
marriage shall never take place while I live, and Mr. Luzhin may go to the
devil." (Dosteovsky 37) Adding to his hatred was the allegation and set up
of Sonya. Raskolnikov realized that Petrovich's reasoning behind his scheme was
to indeed infuriate his mother and sister. Peter knew that Dunya and her mother
would be furious with Raskolnikov if they believed that the money they sent him
went not to Marmeladov's funeral, but to Sonya herself. This sneaky, deliberate
motive enraged his hatred to unspeakable terms. The three occurrences of evil
seem to the naked eye as a muted or lower form of evil. Yet indeed these
instances portray large means of evil. Society has set them on a smaller scale
viewing them as persay "not that bad." On the contrary, a more wicked
type has been made to seem more punishable. The form is radical evil. Radical
evil explains a physically vicious, violent side to evil. "It applies to
immoral behavior so persuasive in a person or a society that scruples and
constraints have been utterly abandoned." (Shattuck 76) Murder, torture,
and genocide all relate to Raskolnikov in it's most prevalent sense. "The
ultimate motive as unrestrained power based on force, not on law."
(Shattuck 76) The common man sees this as the ugliest and unforsaken category of
evil. The radical evil in Crime and Punishment shows forth strongest in
Raskolnikov. One of these occurrences entails Raskolnikov committing a crime and
the other happens subconsciously. Although it's a dream, Raskolnikov's dreams go
beyond the common mans'. They all involve extreme violence, bringing it almost
to reality. "The character lives a furtive nightmare existence, whereas
their dreams are so sharply accurate as to be mistaken for real
experiences." (Mortimer 654) Raskolnikov felt a powerful urge as he left
the pawnbrokers flat one day. That feeling was curiosity placed on a dark side.
He began to plot the murder of the old woman. first obtaining an ax, and then
setting a time and place. Once decided, he proceeded to brutally beat the old
woman to death with the ax. "Then he struck her again and yet again, with
all his strength, always with the blunt side of the axe, and always on the crown
of the head. Blood poured out as if from an overturned glass and the body
toppled over on it's back. (Dosteovsky 74) A short time after the old woman
died, her younger sister walked in, in which Raskolnikov reacted to split her
head for the sake of no witnesses. Two murders were fiercely committed for the
sake of simple curiosity. Preceding these murders Raskolnikov dreamt a horrible
detailed nightmare. The scene included a young boy watching an old mare being
savagely beaten by a group of peasants. The main character of the dream, Mikolka,
basically represented Raskolnikov subconsciously. Mikolka was upset that the
mare wouldn't gallop; for the horse was old, decrepit and could barely walk.
Knowingly, Mikolka and his crew whipped the horse mercilessly, becoming wilder
and angrier as the beating persisted. "Mikolka lost his temper and began
raving blows on the little mare in a passion of anger, as if he really expected
her to gallop." (Dosteovsky 54) The horse showered in it's own blood,
finally died The murder of the two women and the beating of the horse show
wicked, bone chattering, pure evil. The taking of life unfortunately is and has
always been the way in which radical evil has commonly occurred. What makes evil
essentially radical is not the motive involved, but the post-motive actions of
the culprit. A being's personal characteristics hold strong responsibility for
the evil actions committed. Their attitude feeds toward the reason for the
malignancy when it is expressed. A wicked attitude one might pervay before
and/or after the sin is committed, sometimes is more baneful and frightening
than the action itself. This attitude is categorized as metaphysical evil. In
other terms metaphysical evil is the designated attitude of assent and approval
toward moral and radical evil. (Shattuck 76) This "face" behind the
evil is usually motivated by a feeling of superior human will and power. Crime
and Punishment portrays metaphysical evil at its darkest points. Raskolnikov
reveals this evil in his conscience and subconscience mind as in the radical
form. The murder of the two woman also convey's Raskolnikov's metaphysically
evil side. When the beating of the old woman was finished and he was rummaging
through her room this form faced forth. "He was even laughing at himself
into his mind, the idea that perhaps the old woman was still alive and might yet
recover consciousness." (Dosteovsky 74) The basic point of Raskolnikov
laughing for any reason at such a time displays his metaphysical evil. The
obvious fear and disgruntlement evoked in the readers mind ultimately supports
that fact. Raskolnikov also expresses this misery in his dream that entailed the
ghastly beating of the horse. "Suddenly there was a great explosion of
laughter that drowned everything else... Even the old man could not help
laughing." Dosteovsky 54) These men were not only torturing the helpless
animal, but were enjoying it too. The laughter created during the peasants'
gruesome antics was brought by the metaphysical turpitude lurking in
Raskolnikov's head. Moral, radical, and metaphysical categories of evil
breakdown one's reasoning to better support the argument of nature versus
nurture. Crime and Punishment has shown that evil in man is inherent and is
brought in no other way. Yes indeed society can initially bring the evil, but
impart can not "plant the seed." Curiosity and desire lie within every
creature, and are also two of the simplest forms of evil. What some today don't
realize are the particular universal actions and ideas, of people are themselves
purely evil. The customary human desire for sexual actions displays this. Sex is
an action induced by lust. Lust is a primary moral evil. Every creature contains
this feeling, and whether they decide to express it is influenced by their
environment. Raskolnikov was curious to find what is like to commit murder. His
personality and attitude coerced him into action. The personality he attributed
was swayed by his environment, but yet something must have been there to be
vacillated. What, that is influenced in a man can be compared to a seed. The
larger the seed of evil in a creature, the more chance it has to grow to
sinister levels. In a sense, one might only reveal it with lust, while another
is murdering numerous individuals. That statement exhibits the point at which
one's environment takes over. Therefore proving that an inevitably
"good" creature is labeled that way because that creature is winning
the battle against his own evils. and attitude coerced him into action. The
personality he attributed was swayed by his environment, but yet something
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