Due Date: 9/7/11
Crime and Punishment IB Commentary
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky is a psychological thriller that is full of tense situations. One such situation is the scene in Part III, Chapter V, where Raskolnikov first reveals his views on crime and his “übermensch thesis.” This is a central theme to the story, because this is what Raskolnikov uses to justify his crime. In this scene, Raskolnikov (who is trying to appear calm and confident) and Razumihin enter Porfiry’s house. Raskolnikov is paranoid that Porfiry is suspicious of him and nearly loses his temper several times when Porfiry makes ambiguous comments, and as a result, Raskolnikov starts to feel as though Porfiry is playing games, specifically “cat-and-mouse.” Then the men at the scene enter a discussion on crime, which is perhaps the one of the most important dialogues of the novel. Porfiry mentions an article that Raskolnikov had written, “On Crime.” In the article, he argued his famous “übermensch thesis” – that certain “extraordinary” men were above the general run of humanity, and, as such, they have a right to perestupit’ moral boundaries, such as committing an act of murder. Porfiry is intrigued by this theory, and convinces Raskolnikov into expanding on his views. Raskolnikov is hesitant at first, but as he continues to explain his article, he becomes increasingly excited, while his audience is becoming progressively disgusted. Before Raskolnikov leaves, Porfiry asks him if he saw any painters at work in the building on his last visit to Alyona’s, two days before the crime, to which Raskolnikov “no,” as there were painters on the day of the murder but not two days before. The failed trap makes Raskolnikov realize that Porfiry suspects him and that his “übermensch thesis” gives the inspector a cause to question his guilt. This short passage strikes an important note in the novel – Raskolnikov’s article is a powerful illusion to the philosophical...