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Crime & Punishment Essay: Raskolnikov's Change

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In the novel Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Raskolnikov drastically changes by the end of the story, ceasing to believe in his original philosophy about life, God, and the universe. Throughout the novel, the main character undergoes this change of personality and ideas with the help of Svidrigailov, Sonya, and his essentially good conscience. Even though Raskolnikov’s change of heart could be overlooked or doubted because of the complexity of ever-changing thoughts and feelings that he revealed throughout the story, it is very strongly implied, in part through the intense scene of revelation in the last few pages of the book, that Raskolnikov has altogether ceased to believe in his initial theory.
Primarily and most surprisingly, one of the people who influenced Raskolnikov in changing his theory about life is the character Svidrigailov. Being the cynical, seemingly unreliable pedophile he was, Svidrigailov at first appears like one of the weakest examples of a character who would trigger positive change in someone else; the author, however, implies otherwise. Throughout the discussions he has with Svidrigailov, Raskolnikov seems to intensely hate the character and consider him inferior in moral sense; Raskolnikov’s ability to recognize Svidrigailov’s “low” characteristics is one of the initiators of his rational thinking process concerning morality (a process that did not seem to exist in him as strongly before he met Svidrigailov). His passionate disapproval of Svidrigailov’s actions (as well as his attempted charitable act towards Dunya to make up for those actions), reveals in Raskolnikov an extremely protective and caring nature as a brother - and above all, the fact that he has a true “sensor” for negative (and positive) characteristics in humans. Even though Raskolnikov’s thoughts and ideas from his half-mad monologues and scenes of delirium are shown as much more outrageous than Svidrigailov’s ideas and discussions, it is very important to...

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