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World Literature 1 - Clouds of Discontent in Crime and Punishment(TM) and Siddhartha(TM)

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Introduction

English HL World Literature 1 IB Roll Number-############## World literature title-Clouds of Discontent in 'Crime and Punishment' and 'Siddhartha'-their reasons for formations and manifestations The number of words-1648 Clouds of discontent in 'Crime and Punishment' and 'Siddhartha' -their reasons for formation and their manifestations. 'The chemistry of dissatisfaction is as the chemistry of some marvellously potent tar. In it are the building stones of explosives, stimulants, poisons, opiates, perfumes and stenches.1' -Eric Hoffer The notion of dissatisfaction is echoed in the lives of Raskolnikov and Siddhartha, the protagonists of 'Crime and Punishment' and 'Siddhartha'. An impoverished student, Raskolnikov thought he was part of some elite Superman echelon2. He thought he could revolutionize society but poverty constrained his goals. This led to discontent. Ultimately, he vented his frustrations by murdering Alyona Ivanovna, the old pawnbroker. On the other hand, Siddhartha was dissatisfied because he felt that he was leading a transient life and he wanted to find something permanent-a state of Nirvana3. This paper will examine the reasons for discontent and its different manifestations using the lives of Raskolnikov and Siddhartha. The setting in both novels breeds discontent in the two protagonists. 'Crime and Punishment' is set in Russia in the 1860s when Russia was undergoing industrialization. ...read more.

Middle

He considered himself to be superior and expected himself to perform miracles. Through the lines "The next class [extraordinary], however, consists exclusively of men who break the law, or strive... to do so...And if in the execution of their idea, they should be obliged to shed blood, step over corpses, they can conscientiously do both in the interest of their idea..."10 , Raskolnikov outlines the powers of 'Supermen' and indirectly his own rights. However, these powers were restricted by poverty. This belief in the 'Superman' without a chance to use his powers inflamed his discontent. We also see the notion of 'Negative Utilitarianism'11 in Raskolnikov's life. He reasoned that it would be in the best interest of society if parasites like Alyona Ivanova could be got rid of. His belief in 'Negative Utilitarianism' and the 'Superman' translated the murder into a dual advantage- the cleansing of society with the satisfaction of fulfilling his destiny as 'Superman'. His belief in the different philosophies amplified his discontent and influenced him to kill her. Siddhartha was dissatisfied with his rituals and scriptures (he had learned as a Brahmin12) since they were devoid of Atman. Hence he joined the Samanas13 in the hope that through their techniques he will reach Atman. ...read more.

Conclusion

Siddhartha then learnt the meaning of Atman through the River. He realized the non-existence of time and that accepting it would lead to happiness. While one's inner self stayed constant, one's experiences in the world did not. They were in a constant state of flux like the flow of water in a river. Life was full of opposites, both positive and negative. If Time was non-existent then one would realize that positive forces and negative forces would ultimately overlap. By realizing that Time created an illusion, Siddhartha finally fused with the Atman. Later he explains to Govinda that the reason why Govinda could not attain Atman was because he was so obsessed with reaching it that he neglected to look all around him-a source where Atman pervaded. Thus, Siddhartha's discontent manifested itself into achieving Atman. Discontent is the seed of ethics' -Friedrich Nietzsche On comparing the lives of Raskolnikov and Siddhartha we realize that dissatisfaction can manifest itself in different ways. Raskolnikov and Siddhartha lead discontented lives but their frustration assumed different forms. Raskolnikov proves himself to be a discontented Marxist whereas Siddhartha shows himself as a hungry spiritualist. Ultimately however, both the protagonists reach the proper direction-Raskolnikov finds consolation in religion whereas Siddhartha attains Nirvana. In a way, their dissatisfaction was responsible for their respective achievements. My conclusion as a third person would be to follow Aristotle's middle path which he termed as "The Golden Mean". ...read more.

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