Crime and Punishment

Comparison Essay between Crime and Punishment and Notes from theUnderground

Fyodor Dostoyevsky?s stories are stories of a sort of rebirth. Heweaves a tale of suffering and how each character attempts to deliverthemselves from this misery. In the novel Crime and Punishment, hetells the story of Raskolnikov, a former student who murders an oldpawnbroker as an attempt to prove a theory. In Notes from theUnderground, we are given a chance to explore Dostoyevsky?s opinion ofhuman beings.
Dostoyevsky?s characters are very similar, as is his stories. He putsa strong stress on the estrangement and isolation his characters feel.His characters are both brilliant and ?sick? as mentioned in each novel,poisoned by their intelligence. In Notes from the Underground, thecharacter, who is never given a name, writes his journal from solitude.He is spoiled by his intelligence, giving him a fierce conceit withwhich he lashes out at the world and justifies the malicious things hedoes. At the same time, though, he speaks of the doubt he feels at thevalue of human thought and purpose and later, of human life. Hebelieves that intelligence, to be constantly questioning and?faithless(ly) drifting? between ideas, is a curse. To be damned to seeeverything, clearly as a window (and that includes things that aren?tmeant to be seen, such as the corruption in the world) or constantlyseeking the meaning of things elusive. Dostoyevsky thought that humansare evil, destructive and irrational.
In Crime and Punishment, we see Raskolnikov caught between reason andwill, the human needs for personal freedom and the need to submit toauthority. He spends most of the first two parts stuck between wantingto act and wanting to observe. After he acts and murders the oldwoman, he spends much time contemplating confession. Raskolnikov seemstrapped in his world although there is really nothing holding him back;he chooses not to flee and not to confess, but still acts as though he?ssuffocation (perhaps guilt?)In both novels defeat seems inevitable.Both characters believe that normal man is stupid, unsatisfied andconfused. Perhaps they are right, but both characters fail to see thepositive aspects of humans; the closest was the scene between thenarrator of Notes from the Underground and Liza. In this scene healmost lets the human side show, rather than the insecure, closed offperson he normally is.
I assert that Dostoyevsky?s characters are (clinically) depressive ofsome sort. They complain of a detachment to life and alienation fromother people, just going through the motions. They are suffering, butare unwilling to give up and are also helpless in terms of feelingbetter. They are confused as to what to do in the future and see itonly as a bleak possibility, just more problems. And with the collapseof certainty, men and women will do crazy things.