Why Raskolnikov Committed A Crime And Then Confessed?
In Crime and Punishment, the reader is introduced to the main character, Rodion Romanych Raskolnikov (Rodya). The leading role is a poor student living in Petersburg. The author, Dostoevsky Fyodor has used this character to illustrate crime and punishment in the society. The first impression a reader gets when he or she first reads this article is that Raskolnikov was obsessed about committing murder. Raskolnikov’s article, Crime and Punishment has a philosophical effect on Crime and Punishment as a subject. He pursues his ambition and feels satisfied. However, he decides to confess before the law for the crime he committed. This raises questions about his character. It is important to understand what compelled him to commit the crime and confess later on. Moreover, it is vital to know whether his actions justify him as an evil person in the society or not.
Raskolnikov gave numerous reasons why he murdered Alyona, an old pawnbroker and her sister, Lizaveta. It is important to understand his beliefs as illustrated in Fyodor’s article. The term extraordinary, is referred to throughout the article together with the subconscious effect it has on Raskolnikov. He believed that extraordinary people were able to commit crimes such as murder without any feelings of guilt or second-guessing (Fyodor 410). Therefore, it is perceived that Raskolnikov decided to commit murder in order to determine whether he was an extraordinary man or not. This is evident in the article because he stated that this was his main motive when he was conversing with Sonia.
Psychological effects resulted to the murder cases in the article on crime. According to the article, Raskolnikov committed murder because he had an urge to do something. He wanted to dare himself and managed to do that by murdering Alyona and his sister. On numerous occasions, Raskolnikov had no idea of what he was doing and how it affected other people. He was torn apart between polar identities. According to him, the urge to kill someone was because he thought that the death of a disgraceful person would bring joy and general happiness to the people in the society (Fyodor 450). This explains that the reason why he committed the crime was linked to his psychology. Furthermore, he lost control over his life because of his deep psychological thinking. He was experiencing a crisis and going through depression. He had no work, he could not be employed because he had dropped out of school, he lived under poor conditions with no money and his girlfriend had left him. These problems forced him to be depression and he finally ended up losing control of his actions. Therefore, his wicked action was triggered by psychosomatic problems.
The narrator suggests that Raskolnikov committed murder because of utilitarian reasons. He is a poor man and he might have committed the crime because he needed money. He stole some money from Alyona after killing him. He is a proud man though he lacks resources that can help him survive in the society. Therefore, he needed money in order to maintain his social status. He had dropped out of school, stopped working and lived in an old woman’s attic. These reasons explain how miserable he was and how much he needed money. For that reason, he would acquire money from the pawnbroker after killing him.
Raskolnikov reasons for murder are intangible, oddly lucid and intellectual. Philosophical justifications are introduced in the article for the murder case. Raskolnikov argued that he is superior to other members in the society. His living conditions are however contrary to his beliefs. He argued that his position in the society gives him the moral right to violate human rights. He had a strong desire to prove his superiority to the rest of humankind. Thus, the only way he could prove his point was to eliminate people he considered less important in the society. According to him, eliminating Alyona’s life would prove that he had the ability to make decisions for the community without their consent. Therefore, this aspect made him murder the pawnbroker. His perception can be linked to nihilism. His emotional motivations are similar to the philosophy that was rampant in the eighteenth century in Russia. Despite the fact that Raskolnikov actions at the time he commits murder are not close to superiority, his actions are strongly nihilistic in nature. Utilitarism and nihilism are the central concepts, which explain that moral decisions should be based on societal happiness.
Raskolnikov made numerous questionable decisions throughout the article. Out of the many choices he made, giving himself up was the biggest. His decision to confess his evil act was because he was haunted by the choices he made. The idea of committing murder and giving himself up does not seem logical. This is because Raskolnikov had no other option. The first reason why he confessed was that Porfiry had convinced him to do so (Fyodor 428). When Porfiry knew that Raskolnikov had committed murder, he decided to convince him into making a clean breast of his wrongdoing. Porfiry also enlightened him that if he confessed, he would unload the feeling of guilt and that he would receive a lighter sentence. Therefore, he had no other option but to confess his crime.
Secondly, his physical illness forced him to confess. This illness was linked to his guilty feeling about the murder he had committed. Ever since he killed Alyona and his sister, he developed a bodily sickness. He became weak, depressed, and pale and stayed in bed for longer periods than usual. From the article, Raskolnikov stated that, he thought that the illness was caused by his guilt. The idea of confessing struck his mind on several occasions. He kept on wondering whether confessing to his sinful act would ultimately relieve him from his illness. Eventually, his hypothesis became true by the end of the article. After confessing his crime, he got relieved from his illness and even though he was locked up in prison, he said that he was indeed happy (Fyodor 429).
The most prominent reason why Raskolnikov confessed was that he was so guilty of his actions. Most evidently, he did not confess earlier because he was not courageous enough. His guilty feeling started from the day after committing the crime. The idea of confessing struck his mind on that similar day as evidenced in the article when he stated that a strange idea occurred to him to go to Nikodim Fomitch and confess (Fyodor 429). Moreover, he mentions about the guilt he would feel after committing murder when he was talking to the clerk at the police station. The clerk had no idea that Raskolnikov was referring to himself although it built up suspicion against him. In addition, Raskolnikov became more suspicious because he spent most of the time around the crime scene and asked questions about the bloodstains that were found on the floor. This statement shows that he was guilty and willing to confess his crime from the beginning. Therefore, guilt piled up and he eventually resolved to confess.
Raskolnikov’s new relationship with Sonia was so important to him. He decided to confess to her because he thought of her as a transgressor like him. Sonia was a humble woman though circumstances had forced her to become a prostitute. She had devoted to take care of her family and prostitution was the only way she could earn a living. However, she was dedicated to God. She never missed church and had strong faith in Him. Since she was a believer in Christ, yet she practiced prostitution made Raskolnikov believe that they were both transgressors and lying between the moral and immoral sides within the society (Fyodor 450). This made it easier for him to confess his crime to her since she would have a better understanding about the case. The only difference that Raskolnikov failed to notice was that Sonia committed her immoral act because of her family while he committed the crime due to his personal selfish reasons.
After confessing to Sonia about his crime, he is astonished. This is because his reaction was unexpected. He had expected that she would condemn him for his actions and even get distant with him. However, Sonia received the news calmly and she did not condemn him for his evil reactions (Cowley 79). She comforts him and assures him that she would stick by him throughout his jail term. When Raskolnikov understood that Sonia loved him so much and that she had decided to stick by him, he realized that there was no need for him to keep hiding anymore. Her love for him made him gain courage and decided to confess his crime to the authorities. Moreover, because of her constant pleas to him to plead guilty made him to decide to admit to his crime before the authorities.
Finally, he decided to admit to his crime because he believes that his actions were unplanned. He defended himself saying that he had not planned any of the crimes prior in the novel. This statement is contrary to what is evident in the article from the beginning. He had already planned how he would execute his mission. However, he had not finalized his plan when the murder took place (Fyodor 430). His actions were based on his reaction at that specific time. It was by coincidence that Alyona had gone to the hay market when Rsskolnikov decided to kill him. This was because it was a perfect setting for him to commit his crime without being noticed. Moreover, he had not planned to kill his sister, Lizaveta. The fact that she witnessed his crime forced him to kill her too. Raskolnikov stated that he killed her because he did not want to be found guilty. In the article, he states that he would have a plan of what he would say to Porfiry though he fails to do that when their conversation heated up. This example justifies his character that he acted on impulse. Hence, he believes that he had not planned the action.
It is from Sonia’s reaction that the question, how should one react to news on murder cases is intrigued. Most people would refuse to accept that their loved ones had committed a crime. In addition, such criminal cases often break bonds between relationships. Sonia’s reaction to Raskonikov’s confession was unforeseen. She not only accepted him but also devoted her entire life to him. Her action displayed moral understanding of the situation (Cowley 80). This was a good decision because it is moral important and it leads to better decision making. This is evident when Raskolnikov decided to plea guilty before the authority after realizing that Sonia would not leave him.
Cowley argues that people should understand another person’s wrongdoing (83). The accused should be accepted into the society once he has served his term in jail. From the article, the reader understands that Raskonikov was neither mad when he committed murder nor was he bought up immorally. He is not a stupid and wicked man just because he committed murder. He is a liberal and loving man. This is evident in his actions to both his family and strangers like Sonia. People should understand that criminals are good people who just went wrong on a particular occasion. The only fault that he had was his unethical psychological ideas.
Within the article, he analyzes the psychology of a criminal before and after committing crime. He explains that before committing a crime, a criminal has no feeling of guilt. However, after going against the law, feelings of guilt and shame ponder their minds. Sonia asked Raskonikov what he would be living for while in jail (Fyodor 257). Her role in his life was important because she had accepted him. Her questioning provided an insight to Raskonikov. This enabled him to think about his ways and try to rectify them. Sonia made an effort to explain to him about the importance of God in his life and that He would help him overcome, his psychological thoughts of committing murder (Cowley 89).
In conclusion, the article is important for the study of crime and punishment within the society. It provides an insight on the reasons why criminals commit certain crimes. It is from these criminals that the community can be able to correct such immoral behaviors. Moreover, it acts as a lesson to other people who have the idea of committing murder amongst them. This is because of the adverse effects that they would have to go through after committing the crime. Moreover, criminals should be given a chance to explain their wrongdoing. Afterwards, it is important to understand their feelings for the crimes they have committed. This helps them to change and become better citizens.
Christopher Cowley. “Understanding Another’s Wrongdoing.” Philosophy and Literature 35.1 (2011): 79-90. Project MUSE. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor. Crime and Punishment. Ed. George Guidall. New York: W.W. Norton, 2011.
1. See Crime and Punishment especially in page 410
2. See Crime and Punishment especially part 1,chapters III and IV.
3. See Crime and Punishment for more explanation why Raskolnikov believed that he was more superior in page 420.
4. Understanding Another’s Wrongdoing provides more information on the reasons why criminals should be accepted into the society.