In Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, many of
In Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, many of the main characters are in distress from the ways others act. Through the despair both Raskolnikov and Sonia experience, Dostoyevsky shows us that suffering causes people to sacrifice parts of their humanity and their life. The suffering of the Marmeladov family causes Sonia to enter the world of prostitution for money, and the suffering of Raskolnikov seeing himself as weak causes him to commit a crime. Sonia’s suffering is an effect of her selflessness towards her family, sacrificing her body and her innocence for money. During Raskolnikov’s first visit to her apartment, he goes with the intention of saying goodbye, but they end up talking about Sonia’s struggles. Sonia lives a life full of “shame and degradation” because society views prostitution as immoral (315). So immoral that Sonia is seen as an outcast, not even able to live in the same apartment with her family. However, she still continues the profession she was forced into, despite the terrible lifestyle and reputation, to support the orphan children and Katherine Ivanovna (316). This shows that Sonia is willing to give up cherishable aspects of her life, in return for her family’s prosperity. She chooses a life of despair just for the sake of living over death because she does not want to see them suffer the way she does.Sonia is deemed as a symbolic figure of the plight poor people experience. Raskolnikov sees that she is not respected properly or given any value of a human being, but instead treated as an object. As to show his sympathy towards Sonia’s situation, he bows down and kisses her foot as if he “bowed down to all of suffering humanity” (315). This gesture shows that Sonia’s character is an example of the hardship people face daily, but still face life as a way to better themselves. By kissing the one part of the body that is viewed as dirty and unappealing, Raskolnikov praises Sonia for her sacrifice; a similar action to the woman (a sinner like Raskolnikov) in the Bible who kisses Jesus’ feet. Just like Jesus gave up his purity and position in heaven for the saving of humanity, Sonia gave up her purity to save her family from sinking in poverty. The suffering Sonia experiences is an underlying connection to the tormenting Raskolnikov brings upon himself by committing murder. It is the similarity between the two characters that brought them closer together on an empathetic level, understanding the pain and psychosomatic sense of feeling isolated, even when they both have people who care about them. It is also the lack of discrimination of each’s actions that are deemed intolerable to society, that allows them to see past the level of wretchedness of their wrong-doings.When Raskolnikov visits Sonia again to confess his crime, his reflection on himself as a terrible person with a “wicked heart,” indicates the self-hatred he possesses. He shares that he views himself as a “scoundrel” due to how weak he is for not properly committing a crime (402). Raskolnikov contradicts himself as he earlier believed that he and Sonia were alike since they were both sinners, yet exclaims that they’re “not the same sort.” This shows that he views prostitution less wicked than murder, putting his level beneath hers (402). Raskolnikov’s need to test his theory of the “extraordinary man” leads him to paranoia and insanity. As a justification of his actions, Raskolnikov confesses to Sonia that he “only killed a louse– useless, vile, pernicious” (404). Raskolnikov’s comparison of Aliona Ivanovna (the woman he killed and her sister) to an insect that holds no beneficial purpose, signifies how he believes Aliona is a greedy and futile, old woman. By eliminating Aliona from the world, her death would benefit mankind because she holds an abundance of money that can be used to help hundreds of lives living in poverty (73). Raskolnikov even admits that he commited the crime to see if he could be similar in a way to Napoleon. “Not only would he not have shrunk back, it would never have occurred to him that what he was doing wasn’t monumental” (403). Raskolnikov sees Napoleon as a great example of an extraordinary man because he is a leader that acted upon instinct, rather than questioning the possible outcomes. It is the same method Raskolnikov uses when he kills Aliona, not worrying about who sees him or what others will think of him.Dostoyevsky incorporates the idea of suffering heavily within the novel, but shows an emphasis on the suffering of Sonia and Raskolnikov. The suffering of the two characters displays the desperate feeling individuals experience to make a sacrifice of anything in their life to receive some form of an advantageous outcome. The link between the anchor scene and the second scene exhibits the similarities between Raskolnikov and Sonia through their pain and being outcasted.