The Nightmare Essay

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The Nightmare Dostoevsky gives the audience a heavy dose of symbolism through the dream Royda has in Part 1 of Crime and Punishment. Through this dream Dostoevsky highlights the inner conflict occurring in Royda in his decision to murder Alyona or not to murder her. This dream brings back emotions in Royda that were believed to be long buried and replaced with more rational and existential thoughts and beliefs. The nightmare demonstrates Royda’s slight capacity to still feel compassion, which clashes with his rational, abstract thoughts of killing Alyona and symbolizes a parallel of Royda’s act of killing. In a way, this dream is a presentiment to what Royda eventually ends up executing with Alyona. When viewing the dream and Royda’s act as parallel, the mare symbolizes Alyona, the owner symbolizes Royda, and the crowd represents society as a whole. Just as the mare is mercilessly killed my Mikolka, Alyona is killed just as brutally by Royda. The crowd embodies the lack of understanding and willingness to ignore cruelty that society possesses. This is demonstrated by the excerpt where an old man voices his protest to the beating of the mare and is then yelled at by Mikolka and told to not “meddle” with his property which is soon followed with not another protest by the old man but by laughter from him and the crowd in watching the mare being beaten (46). This propensity for society to look away and ignore the constant acts of distaste in life is just as prominent in a quote by Royda’s father telling him to, “come away, don’t look” (46). This mentality is what lets both Royda and Mikolka get away with their brutal acts. More importantly however, is the dream’s ability to bring Royda’s previous ability to feel compassion back into play and force him into a conflict with himself between his nearly dead emotional side and his very prominent rational, absurd

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