Thesis About Crime And Punishment

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Dostoyevsky was especially appalled by Chernyshevsky’s claim that actions taken in pursuit of a better society were themselves necessarily good.

He saw in this seemingly innocent theory a potential justification for violence.

Just minutes before Dostoyevsky expected to die, however, as the officers were steadying their weapons against the first group of conspirators, he and the other prisoners learned that their sentences had been commuted to hard labor as a supposed “act of mercy.” Dostoyevsky spent the next four years in a It is perhaps not surprising, then, that in subsequent years Dostoyevsky was fascinated by the judiciary; throughout his career, he devoted a considerable amount of time to attending trials in person and reading about them in the news.

(A later novel, , was inspired by a court case where a group of nihilists were put on trial for murdering a member of their organization.) He conversed with lawyers about the nature of guilt and innocence and debated court decisions in one of the journals he edited, , was a frustration with defense attorneys, who were increasingly winning acquittals for their clients by pointing to “environmental” factors like a poor upbringing.

Taken together, they created an intellectual climate that, in Dostoyevsky’s estimation, put too much stock in the ability of science and scientific reasoning to explain human behavior.

(1863) modeled a philosophy that would later be described as “rational egoism.” Rational egoism relied on the idea that human beings, guided by enlightened self-interest, would ultimately choose to live in a fair and equal society.The idea inspired a generation of young Russians coming of age in the wake of Czar Alexander II’s “great reforms” (which included the abolition of serfdom and the establishment of local forms of self-government), who wanted to push Russian society along further and more quickly through a revolution that they believed began with remaking themselves and interrogating their own desires.Dostoyevsky, on the other hand, could not abide this scientific dissection of desire, believing that people were ultimately unaware of why they wanted the things they wanted.In depicting the taking of a human life, Dostoyevsky could bring the full spectrum of lived experience rapidly into focus., Raskolnikov lives in a state of crushing poverty and gets by on meager translation work.His situation deeply grieves his loving mother and sister; the latter is even considering marriage to a man she doesn’t love in the hopes that it will ease her brother’s financial woes.Wasn’t Raskolnikov, in killing an avaricious pawnbroker who lent money at predatory rates and abused her sister, acting in the interest of the greater good?It was the same danger that Dostoyevsky recognized in the nihilists and anarchists, who by the 1870s and ’80s had indeed turned to terrorism to achieve their ends.Indeed, an onslaught of everyday economic violence (the denial of loans, the shame and humiliation inflicted on those in debt, the indignity of having to beg, and so forth) forms so painful a backdrop that the murder sometimes gets lost in the larger canvas of depravity that Dostoyevsky paints in Despite his tendency to rage at the amount of cruelty and greed to be found in 19th-century St.Petersburg, Dostoyevsky reserves a special anger in this novel for those who talked about the economy in terms abstract and thus callous—the followers, as he puts it, “of the latest ideas.” Shortly after the novel begins, Raskolnikov wanders into a tavern.Severe overcrowding and limited opportunities for employment left many in a state of desperation.As Katz writes in his introduction, “The murder rate rose, and the Russian press reported on horrendous crimes in graphic detail.


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