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Dostoyevskys novel Crime and Punishment - Essay Example

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In Crime and Punishment Dostoyevsky establishes principles of jurisprudence that to an extent, reject the principles of sovereign law. In the mid-19th century, close to the time that the novel was written and published, many jurisprudents advocated a uniform evolution of laws to reflect the values and principles of the modern, industrialized society…
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Dostoyevskys novel Crime and Punishment
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"Dostoyevskys novel Crime and Punishment"

Download file to see previous pages The struggle that Raskolnikov experiences, is ultimately between rationalized law and natural law. Raskolnikov rationalizes a justification for murdering the pawnbroker, Alyona Ivanovna; she is rapacious, miserly, and "unjust" (1980, p. 12) and he perceives that if he escapes judgment by sovereign law, then his actions are justified. To enhance the presentation and exploration of the principles of jurisprudence, it is worth noting that Alyona Ivanovna is by no means presented as a sympathetic character, particularly in her dealings with Raskolnikov (1980, p.
Raskolnikov is, however, consumed by guilt. In particular, Dostoyevsky explores the guilt as a consequence of the protagonist's deviation from natural law. Raskolnikov murders a second person, the pawnbroker's sister, Lizaveta, who is innocent even according to the rationality applied to the first murder. Circumstances dictate that the murder of Lizaveta is necessary for Raskolnikov to escape the consequences of the first act, to avoid detection by the police. In a sense, this is Dostoyevsky's demonstration that natural law is something of a divine ordination and the dominant the principle of jurisprudence.
Dostoyevsky's understanding of the rationality of the modern industrialised society is variously demonstrated by Raskolnikov's stream of conscious in the first part of the novel. In chapter one, for example, Dostoyevsky expounds, through his character's conscious thought, that 'a man holds the fate of the world in his two hands, and yet, simply because he is afraid, he just lets things drift" (1980: 1-2). The notion is defined as a "truism" and established as a demonstration that men hesitate at the prospect of "any new departure" (1980: 2). The quote is clearly a reflection of the notion that permeated the modern industrialized society, partly as a result of the work of Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species, first published in 1859.
The notion that "a man holds the fate of the world in his two hands" clearly defies any notion of the divine. Even before the publication of The Origin of Species many intellectuals of the 19th century regarded the possibility that there was indeed no god; that mankind was rather the product of evolution. The rational of this is what Raskolnikov acts upon by choosing to murder Alyona Ivanovna and what Dostoyevsky explores as a principle of jurisprudence.
After the murder of Alyona and Lizaveta Ivanovna in Part 1, Chapter 7 (1980, p. 72-84) Dostoyevsky explores the reality of natural law and the significance of the human conscience by exploring the impact of guilty and fear upon the murderer, Raskolnikov. Not only does the character become mentally over come by a sense of guilt, he is also physically disabled by it, developing a fever as a result of his "wandering" about after the murder (p. 110). Dostoyevsky inserts a metaphor to express the notion of the consuming guilty in the dialogue between Raskolnikov and his friend, Natashya, who says, in response to Raskolnikov's ramblings, "It's your blood that makes a noise. It's when it hasn't got any outlet, and it begins to get all clotted, and then you begin to get visions" (1980, p. 110).
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