Crime and Punishment

by Fyodor Dostoevsky

I previously read Crime and Punishment in high school as reference book for the SAT essay section. 0/10 would not recommend doing that. But knowing the plot allowed me to fully appreciate the concepts and thoughts embodied within Crime and Punishment.

Reading it now and learning about the period that Dostoevsky lived in while writing this, I realize that the book is about the clash of theologies. The book explores concepts such as utilitarianism, rationalism, and even nihilism taken to their respective extremes. Throughout the book, we follow Raskolnikov’s suffocating journey as he tries to rationalize and understand what he has done. It was relentless in portraying, pushing, and diffusing Raskolnikov’s mental imagery and aspirations.

After finishing the novel, I was left with an seed of an answer to the following two questions,

Greater good only exists in an vacumn. There are very few large positive sum actions that we can do within our lives. In any action, there are winners and losers. We see history primarily in the lends of the victor and thus see history in mainly a series of correct decisions. We gloss over the pain of the losers and let it fade into the footnotes of history. From the perspective of the older woman, she never actively harmed anyone and to her, her life was the greater good. In the perspective of Raskolnikov, perhaps the greater good was in taking the money to use for the future. In the perspective of Petrovich, Raskolnikov’s line of thinking is dangerous in that the line between greater good and evil is so incredibly thin. Perhaps there’s no right answer.

All in all, I came away from the book hopeful and energized for the future.


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