Crime and Punishment

August 16, 2006

Because of my participation in AP classes last year and this year, I have done and will do a fair amount of writing. As I receive my essays or papers and think they’re at least half-way decent, I’ll post them on here.

Here’s my book report, completed around one in the morning the day it was due, on Crime and Procrastination Punishment, with some slight alteration. If you haven’t read the book, there are major spoilers since the report concerns the plot.

Fyodor Dostoevsky’s masterful work, Crime and Punishment, provides a thorough treatment on the nature of man and criminal acts. Through brilliant storytelling, Dostoevsky brings together a host of characters who, seemingly not related at all, interact to provide a suspenseful, deep, and believable world in 19th century Petersburg, Russia. At the center of this story is Rodion “Rodya” Romanovich Raskolnikov, a former university student with a murderous mind. The plot can be broken into three parts: the events leading up to the murder, the murder itself and the subsequent events, and the events culminating in Rodya’s confession.

In the introduction of the book, Dostoevsky acquaints his readers with Rodya and his meager living situation, and also with the morbid thoughts that seem to plague him from time to time. In what seems to be a bit of a scattered section, Rodya actually spends much time walking his city and interacting with a host of characters, most notably Mr. Marmeladov who becomes, with his family, incredibly influential later on in the plot. Eventually, Raskolnikov learns that the woman whom he seeks to murder will be left alone at a certain time, and this spurs him to take back up the evil desires which he had previously renounced concerning her.
Raskolnikov succeeds in putting an axe to the head of Alyona Ivanovna, and also does the same to her younger sister, a detail which was unforeseen in his plans. Instead of robbing Alyona the pawn-broker, Rodya only takes the money for a short while and finally deposits most of it under a rock in an abondoned area. Immense paranoia ensues for Raskolnikov, who cannot live at peace after the crime, being in a more miserable state than he was before the crime. After the crime, Rodya meets the family of Marmeladov more closely, and also becomes reuinited with his own family.
The characters and subplots that Dostoevsky introduced in the beginning of the book all join in surprising ways to pressure Raskolnikov to his breaking point. The chief investigator is highly suspicious of Rodya, and allows Rodya to be well aware of it. Family pressures lead Rodya to break off with this family and to find solace only in Marmeladov’s daughter, Sonia, who is also a harlot. Things become too much for Rodya, and, as one character so aptly puts it, Raskolnikov is left with the options of “the bullet or Siberia.”
Rodya chooses Siberia, which is prison, and instead of jumping into the river and committing suicide, he enters the police station and confesses that he is the murderer.
This riveting story concludes with Rodya imprisoned for eight years. During his sentence his mother dies, and his sister marries his best friend. The most important change for Raskolnikov during his imprisonment, however, is the blossoming of his love for Sonia. After he wraps his arms around her in an act of sheer love, his seven year sentence is no longer a tremendous burden; instead, he, like Jacob, will work happily to finish his term and enter into the happiness that awaits him with Sonia.
This book can be given nothing less than superior praise. It succeeds as a “psychological thriller”, as the introduction describes it, and boasts some passages of paranoia that are very fun to read. The reader is truly thrown into Rodya’s mind, and he learns what a frightening and fearful place it can be. The book was thoroughly enjoyable and should be required reading for all high school students.

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