Research Papers on the Themes in Crime and Punishment
Research papers on the most important themes in Crime and Punishment include the following:
- Costs of social withdrawal
- Nihilistic despair
- The devolution into abject criminality
From the outset of Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, it is readily apparent that Raskolnikov sees himself as disconnected from the rest of the people surrounding him. Both his status as a student (albeit one not currently engaged in scholarship) and his squalid poverty identify him as distinct from the majority of the people in his immediate proximity. Although he is desperately impoverished, there is a sense that it is transitional, and that he, unlike many of the working poor in his neighborhood, will ultimately be able to transcend the depths of poverty. Of course, this may simply be the sense that Raskolnikov conveys out of a desperate attempt to disassociate himself from his disheartening surroundings.
The Theme of Disaffection
Regardless of the reason, the text is clear on the point that Raskolnikov sees himself as distinct from the social hubbub of the masses that encircle him. By all suggestions, it appears that viewing himself as somehow innately different and distinct has long been a habit of his thinking, forming the analytical lens through which he regards everything about his current dilemma. However, “something new was taking place within him,” and his detachment from society is being replaced by a compulsive desire to observe people in their native surroundings. However, this compulsion seems rooted in pathology, rather than an earnest desire for social interaction, as it has a distinctly voyeuristic tinge to it, and it ultimately serves only to compound his already profound sense of disaffection.
Crimes Viewed as Psychological Degradation
If the crimes are viewed as the primary impetus of Raskolnikov’s psychological degradation, his sense of detachment only worsens in the aftermath of the crime. None of the many social contacts he makes during the post-murder period offer him any comfort or satisfaction, as he still views himself as fundamentally distinct from those around him. Systematically, throughout the course of the novel, Raskolnikov rejects every person who seeks to form a connection or lend assistance to him. It is only in the conclusion of the narrative that Raskolnikov has regained his sense of emotional equilibrium to the degree that he recognizes his love for Sonia.