“If you live, you suffer. Some people suffer more, but not because they want to… ” (Malamud, 150). This quote represents the theme of “Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. All the characters in this novel have some form or another of suffering and they continue to enforce this pain upon themselves. Suffering is to tolerate or endure evil, injury, pain, or death. (http://dictionary. reference. com/search? q=suffering) Rodion Romanovitch Raskolnikov is the main character in “Crime and Punishment”.
He was an intellectual student, who was supposed to become an educated professional but poverty had overtook his chances of continuing his career. Since the beginning, he has inflicted pain upon himself by isolating himself from society. When he went to college, “He took no part in the student get-togethers, conversations, amusements, or in anything. He worked hard, without sparing himself, and for this he was respected; but no one liked him.
He was poor, and somehow stiff, proud, and uncommunicative, as though they were children, as though he were ahead of them not only in development and knowledge but in the quality of his convictions, and that he regarded their convictions and interests as inferior” (Dostoyevsky, 59). The way he represented himself, made people not want to take the time to get to know him, due to his superior nature. He created an isolated environment for himself however; once in a while he allowed an exceptional few into his life.
He had only one friend, who was quite contradictory compared to him, Razumikhin. Razumikhin was “extraordinarily gay and communicative fellow, good-natured to the point of simplicity… there were a hidden depth and a dignity… and everybody liked him” (Dostoyevsky, 59). After Raskolnikov left college, he was even scarcer on money. He would sell his valuables to get some money to pay for the necessities. He went to sell it to the pawnbroker, Aliona Ivanovna. Aliona Ivanovna was disliked by many people and a student described her, “Rich as a Jew, she’s always got money around….
She could lend out five thousand just like that, yet she wouldn’t turn down a pawn worth a ruble. A lot of our guys have been to her. Only she’s a terrible skinflint” (Dostoyevsky, 71). Raskolnikov had been planning on killing her by committing the perfect crime because she deceits the people who need to exchange their valuables for money. She always would give them an unreasonable price and they needed the money so they had no other alternative but to take it. In the beginning, Raskolnikov was just thinking about killing her and needed some signs to justify his actions.
Then he heard the student talk about her malicious ways and after he received a letter from his mother, he went to the Hay Market and overheard that Aliona would be alone the next day at seven in the evening. It gave him the opportunity to murder her the next day, or to wait for another opportunity similar to this one, whether or not that chance would occur again. Both of these situations (the student talking about her and her being alone) were enough for him to validate to himself that it’s worth killing her because “for one life, thousands of lives saved from ruin and collapse. One death and a hundred lives-there’s arithmetic for you!
” (Dostoyevsky, 73) When he murdered Aliona Ivanovna, he also murdered her sister, Lizaveta because she came home earlier then expected. He inflicted more suffering on himself because now he has two lives hanging over his conscious. He experiences even more loneliness and is completely overwhelmed by his inability to turn to anyone after the double murder. After that he loses his vigilance of time and just feels ill and lies there, “Sometimes he had the feeling that he had been lying there now for a month, other times that everything had taken place that very day” (Dostoyevsky, 95).
This disorder of lost time that Raskolnikov gets is coming from his intense feelings of guilt and it shows that he has a conscious that is bothering him. His road to recovery will come when he releases his secrets by confession and rejoins humanity. According to Konstantin Mochulsky, the whole “preparation and perpetration of the crime” occurred in three days. Konstantin used this quote that best describes Raskolnikov’s state, “Raskolnikov now experienced a strange interlude. It was as though a mist had fallen in front of him and closed him off in irredeemable and oppressive solitude….
He was absolutely convinced that he was making mistakes then in regard to many things, for example, in the dates and time of certain events. “(Miller, 91) Before any murder occurred, Raskolnikov met Semyon Zakharovich Marmeladov at a tavern. Marmeladov was a public official and an alcoholic. When he met Raskolnikov, Marmeladov told him all about himself and his family. He told him how he was making his family suffer by drinking all his earnings away and how his wife, Katerina Ivanovna Marmeladov has a fatal illness where she has flushed cheeks and a bloody cough.
Marmeladov is explaining to him that she is proud because she came from high-class family and when she married her first husband, she was disinherited from her family but she had three children when the first marriage ended. She only married Marmeladov out of hopelessness. Marmeladov also has a daughter of his own, Sonya, who was forced to become a prostitute by Katerina, so her children can be fed. Sonya suffers for her family by allowing herself to prostitute and she knows that no man would want to marry her due to her reputation but nonetheless she is doing it for her family.
Sonya is also very religious, that is how she keeps herself sane. She trusts that God does things for a purpose and that is very noble of her to still believe in God even after she sacrificed herself for the sake of her family. Marmeladov knows that he let his family down in many ways but continues with his habits of destruction. He knows that when he drinks all their money away that Katerina will mistreat him. He said, “and it’s not because she starts pulling my hair that I’m afraid. What do I care about hair! Hair doesn’t mean a thing!
If she starts pulling, it is even better. That is not what I am afraid of… I am… afraid of her eyes… yes… her eyes… I am also afraid of those red stains on her cheeks… And I am afraid of the way she breathes… You know how they breathe when they have this disease… But I am not afraid of her blows…. You must realize, sir, that such blows not only fail to inflict pain, they are actually a pleasure. ” (Dostoyevsky, 34). Marmeladov tells us that he enjoys the pain he gets from Katerina because he feels that he deserves it.
He confesses to Raskolnikov that he tried to quit drinking but he gets too much satisfaction from it therefore he chooses to place his needs ahead of his family’s. He feels like he failed his own daughter because he placed her in such a position that she needs to sell her body due to his mistakes. He needs to think of his family first and change his old ways, like drinking and inflicting suffering upon himself, by sustaining a job. By him holding a job, Sonya would be able to stop prostituting and start her own life.