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Crime and Punishment Madness

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Introduction

Bibi King ENG4U7 October 16, 2009 The Presentation of Madness in Crime and Punishment "In times of need, people resort to madness or denial" (Thinkexist). This is indeed evident in the novel Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, in which the characters, being in extreme poverty do resort to madness. Set in St. Petersburg before the Russian Revolution, this novel deals with the emergence of several new ideologies, such as utilitarianism and capitalism and it is, in fact utilitarianism that drives the protagonist, Raskolnikov, to commit murder, resulting in his madness from his overpowering guilt and paranoia. Likewise, Katerina Ivanovna, a secondary character and a mother to three, must cope with an alcoholic husband and lack of money to purchase basic necessities, which also makes her mad, from suffering and the undeniable poverty she experiences. Therefore, one can ask, what affect does madness have on the novel and its characters? Madness, reflected through the characters of Raskolnikov and Katerina, display extreme suffering, which can be seen through the change in narrative point of view, creating compassion and portraying Dostoevsky's view of the corrupt society in St. Petersburg during this era. Raskolnikov's madness: > presented as mental suffering and it is conveyed through the author's use of narrative point of view > fear of society (agoraphobia): revealed through the statement "he dreaded meaning anyone" (1) > Raskolnikov isolates himself in a room; this is a representation of his psychological confinement and his self-alienation from society. ...read more.

Middle

In fact, her manner of begging on the streets is still seen in present day. > Katerina states, "he [Marmeladov] was a kind and honourable man, who loved and respected his family" (381), proving that she did indeed care for Marmeladov > Her stress level rises due to her lack of lodging and of money, which leads her to "go into the street with a barrel- organ, and the children will sing and dance"(419) in order to receive money from the individuals passing by. > In her state of madness, Katernina seems to take on the qualities that were previously associated with Raskolnikov. She "rushed at the children, shouted at them, coaxed them... [and] beat them"(423), which indicates a constant rapid shift of character and of decisions. > "She [Katerina] abused him [Sonia's father's former chief] and threw something at him" (419). This is completely atrocious for a poor woman to act in that manner toward a general, and therefore this activity is also deemed an indicator for showing Katerina's "madness" > Another example proving that Katerina is not in a good mental state was the fact that she "at every free moment, walking...talking to herself and coughing" (178). Naturally, when one begins to talk to herself, it is the cause of alarm, yet in their impoverished state, it was not given any priority. > Katerina is constantly obsessed with her past life, when she danced the "shawl dance" and when she lived "a happy luxurious life" (179). ...read more.

Conclusion

the fact that he does not even touch the roubles he stole helps the readers realize that he truly did not think his action was wrong. > Katerina Ivanonva is extremely capable of sympathy as well. Not only does Katerina suffer and continually "washing from the washbasin" (218) but she leads such a depressing, hopeless life that it sickens her, and ironically enough she does have an illness. > In addition, compassion is evoked for her character because of Marmeladov's horrible habit, leaving Katerina to provide for the children and do all the household chores, almost always without the assurance of a steady income. > Although Katerina does continually "screamed in despair" (26) at her husband, she is capable of loving, as demonstrated when she protected Sonia from Luzhin's accusations. She "kiss[ed] her [Sonia's] face continually" (391), showing her capability to love. In conclusion, it is evident that madness is indeed integrated to many parts of this novel, as the aftermath of Raskolnikov's crime and the suffering of Katerina Ivanovna were extremely important. Through the display of Raskolnikov and Katerina's qualities, it can be deduced that madness is an integral part of the novel, as the majority of the parts were centered on Raskolnikov's ongoing madness. These two figures undoubtedly represent the population of the intelligentsia and the desperately poor, all living in horrible environments. Therefore, can it be said that the environment not only reflects one's status, but one's state of mind as well? ...read more.

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