Paul Giurgeu Charles KrugerENG4U1January 12/18 The Path to SalvationFyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment revolves heavily around the complex theme of suffering and redemption, rooted in the Christian belief of humanity’s sinful nature. Through characters like Svidrigailov, who actively works at avoiding their tragic reality, or like Marmeladov, who rejects any control over his life, to Katerina or Dunya, who pursue suffering for all the wrong reasons, to Dostoevsky’s most significant characters, Sonya and Raskolnikov, who act as polar opposites to the ideological way of combating their unfortunate circumstances, Dostoevsky slowly reveals his profound belief in suffering and his ideology that it is one’s obligation to holistically embrace suffering in order to achieve complete redemption. Marmeladov and his morbid wife, Katarina, are Dostoevsky’s first examples of erroneous suffering. Marmeladov, in particular, is a unique character who is the only one to actively admit his rejection of control over suffering and, to a larger extent, life in general. In his agonizing journey through life, as a disregarded, continuously intoxicated vagabond who aimlessly wanders the streets of Moscow squandering the pitiful remains of his family’s savings on alcohol, Marmeladov is a true statement of human capitulation. Rather than analyzing and accepting the irreversible facts of his situation, Marmeladov regards his suffering as a purely emotional experience which one is forced to go through in life and deliberately allows his family to fall to ruins while he places his complete trust in God and soulfully relies on the belief that everyone will one day be forgiven. He even extends this belief to the point where he willingly allows his daughter, Sonya, to be placed on the streets for prostitution in order to support his and his families unsustainable lifestyle. Dostoevsky uses the Marmeladov’s to realistically portray the miserable lives of the lower class, simultaneously introducing the secondary theme of poverties relation to suffering. Dostoevsky makes, at times blatantly obvious, references to poverties strong correlation to suffering, not only though Marmeladov and his family, but through other characters like Raskolnikov and Dunya as well.Unlike her husband, who is plagued with chronic laziness and an inability to realize his direct control over suffering, Katerina suffers from an endless, injurious and self destructive ambition to serve her family. Her suffering is rooted in an underlying, self imposed need to mask her low social status and destitution. Katerina spends her time tirelessly cleaning for and maintaining her dysfunctional family in hopes she will, one day, be able to improve their undesirable image, placing absurd amounts of energy in doing so to the point where even her thoughts and emotions are manipulated by this selfish want of social status and honor. She allows her body and mind to be consumed by her unattainable hopes, spending countless nights hard at work doing laundry, scrubbing shoes and cleaning their apartment in order to preserve the last ounce of dignity her family still has. Dostoyevsky is quick to emphasise, however, how unnecessary and needless her suffering truly is. Her pain and agony only provide temporary solutions to much more complex and heterogeneous problem and exist only to satisfy her own pride and vanity. The desolate and abysmal cavity in her soul which is created by this false hope and selfish desire is engulfed with torture and misery and is ultimately what, like her husband, brings her death rather than new life because of its heavy roots in egocentricity and direct correlation to her refusal of accepting reality.Similarly to Katerina, Dunya, Raskolnikov’s sister, also suffers as a result of self imposed philosophies and ideologies of self worth and integrity. Dunya, not only willing places herself in positions of agony and potential harm in order to sustain and uphold her own reputation, but, in order to maintain the rapidly dwindling, and equally significant, image of her family, she continuously focuses, like Katerina, on selfish and narcissistic details in each situation, especially evident in her decision to marry Luzhin, Dunya’s stingy, narrow-minded, and self-absorbed fiancé whoes deepest wish is to marry a beautiful, intelligent, but desperately poor girl like Dunya who will forever be in his debt. Her agreement to marry such an individual is a small step above prostitution she hopes to help her family and herself rise from the deep, treacherous pits of poverty. Her injurious mentality is evidently portrayed at the beginning of the novel when Raskolnikov desperately attempts to disband the wedding plans after realizing Donya’s true intentions and objectives in the relationship. Donya, however, quickly silences these thoughts in fear they may jeopardize her plan to attain financial security from Luzhin. Dunya is described by Raskolnikov as a character who “does not love, does not adore, but will sell herself in an instant!” (1.4.5). The unfortunate part about her situation, however, is that Dunya does not actively realize or acknowledge the mistake she would be making by marrying Luzhin because of her ability to trick herself into believing her actions are well intentioned and amicable. She is so consumed and oblivious to this mentality she: Would undoubtedly have been among those who suffered martyrdom, and would have smiled, of course, while her breast was burned with red-hot iron tongs. She would have chosen it on purpose… She’s thirsting for just that, and demands to endure some torment for someone without delay. (475) Dunya is not able to fully escape the realms of her suffering until the end of the book when she, along with her mother, are blatantly provided with the obvious facts from Raskolnikov, to which, after excessive debate and argument, they return from their brainwashed state. Some characters, however, actively choose the path of suffering, such as the character Nikoli who turns himself in for a crime he never committed. Nikoli, a painter on the second-floor apartment during the murder, suspected of killing the old woman and Lizaveta because of his attempt to pawn an item dropped by Raskolnikov during his escape, is a fascinating character Dostoyevsky uses to portray one’s need and physical desire to suffer. His intentions are not to cover up the mistakes of another character and, according to Porfiry, he acts “not for the sake of someone, but simply for the “need for suffering: to embrace suffering” (455). Nikoli acts to satisfy an underlying feeling of guilt for his involvement in the murder by admitting to the crime. He openly embraces the idea of suffering and is successfully able to convince himself that, by admitting to the murder, his guilt will be instantaneously absolved, while, in reality, his actions have absolutely no connections to the real murder and only act as a way of nearly destroying Raskolnikov’s opportunity to be absolved from his suffering by being able to confess to the crime. Nikoli is so obsessed and preoccupied by the idea of suffering that he is willing to accept it wherever he can find it and in whatever shape or form it may come, even if that requires unlawfully revoking it from another individual. Through Nikoli, Dostoevsky suggests that one should only go through and pursue the suffering prescribed to them by heaven itself and should never try to achieve redemption by stealing another individual’s pathway to freedom. In sharp contrast to both Nikoli and Dunya, the character Svidrigailov attempts to escape suffering by living a life filled with pleasure and false gratification. Svidrigailov is willing and able to break any and all rules of human morality, ethic or decency in order to mask his underlying feelings of sorrow or pain. He accomplishes this task by filling his life with endless amounts of temporary physical and emotional satisfaction, often at the direct expense of other individuals health and wellbeing. He excuses his barbaric and disgusting behaviour as a necessary pathway to pleasure and focuses his entire life on tangible, materialistic and perishable objects and relationships to help cover the deep, black pit in his soul. In order to be absolved from the tedious and dull task of committing to one partner, he blatantly explains to his wife “…straight off that I could not be completely faithful to her…” (472) and, rather than remoursing or repenting about his atrocious behaviour, he openly boasts about his actions in his conversations with Raskolnikov, revealing his shallow, trifling set of self-standards. Dostoyevsky uses this character to illustrate the unavoidable attributes to suffering and mankind’s inability to mask the pain caused by opportunities of pleasure and false satisfaction. After countless, failed attempts to restart his personal relationship with Dounya, Svidrigailov inevitably realizes his money and resources are no longer enough to fill the immense void in his soul and chooses to kill himself rather than living with the pain of accepting that Dounya will never love him. Throughout Raskolnikov’s lengthy and strenuous journey to achieving redemption, one of the most important characters he is introduced to is Sonya, the daughter and, to some extent, slave of Marmeladov. Dostoevsky uses Sonya to illustrate one of humanities best examples of the ideal way to address suffering. Sonya is the only character who is actively aware of one’s ability to self impose suffering onto themselves, and constantly reminds herself not to fall down the path so many individuals, such as her father and mother, have taken. Sonya is the only character who has truly no control over their suffering, yet she is the only one that and does not question why or how it has come on to herself and simultaneously embraces the consequences and ramifications it has on each aspect of her morbid life. Even after the extreme torture, hardship and abuse she has gone through after her father and mothers declining mental and physical health and later, death and her obligation to sell her body on the streets in order to support both of their needs, Sonya simply submits meekly, preserving as much of her remaining innocence and integrity as possible. Regardless of how abysmal and hopeless her situation in life may be, Sonya understands the importance of acceptance towards her salvation and continues to loves freely and selflessly, with tremendous compassion and empathy towards others. Raskolnikov, at first, is not able to wrap his mind around this concept and does not understand “…how this shame and degradation can exist in you side by side with other, opposite, holy feelings?” To his disbelief, he states, “It would be better, a thousand times better and wiser to leap into the water and end it all!” (567). But Sonya continues to use her suffering to channel endless sacrificial love to both Raskolnikov and Katerina and is the only character who finds a way to live harmoniously with it. She is Dostoevsky’s example of the ideal way to suffer, which is why she is the only one who is able to save Raskolnikov from his detrimental and corrosive mentality towards his situation. Raskolnikov, however, is the polar opposite to Sonia in regards to his approach towards suffering and acts as Dostoevsky’s portrayal of the classic human mentality towards suffering. From the moment he projects the metal axe towards the top of the pawnbrokers head, it is immediately obvious that Raskolnikov has severely underestimated his ability to deal and cope with the manifestations that are to come with committing such a crime. At first, Raskolnikov denies any presence of suffering or pain and attempts to distance himself as much as possible from the truth in hopes that, by avoiding the problem altogether, he may somehow find relief. But after weeks of torture and unimproved health, Raskolnikov begins to excuse his distasteful actions by toying with a complex theory he calls “the extraordinary man theory”, hoping he may find reassurance and comfort in his slowly degrading life. In this theory, he perceives himself as a man superior to all other beings with the internal and external capability to perform and cope with the murder of another human. However, his theory about theExtraordinary man with an inner right to decide in his own conscience to overstep certain obstacles, and only in case it is essential for the practical fulfillment of his idea (sometimes, perhaps, of benefit to the whole of humanity). (443) is heavily disproven by his internal weakness and inability to cope with the crime as his life continues to become engulfed with guilt and suffering from his actions. As Raskolnikov’s thoughts and recollections of the gruesome and horrific murder slowly begin to erode his ability to function in society, he does not once face his situation directly and attempt to absolve his sins; rather, he continues to allow his suffering to destroy his mind and body, trusting that time will eventually cure his symptomes. Characters such as Porfiry, with his shrewd understanding of criminal psychology and exquisite awareness of Raskolnikov’s deteriorating mental state, understand Raskolnikov is “a man who has been unfortunate, but who is proud, imperious and above all, extremely impatient” (512). Porfiry, in particular, uses Raskolnikov’s tremendous impatience and flawed mindset to ultimately force Raskolnikov to admit to the crime. Contrary to Raskolnikov’s beliefs, however, he is not absolved from the torture produced by his actions even after turning himself into the police. “They say it is necessary for me to suffer! What’s the object of these senseless sufferings? Shall I know any better what they are for, when I am crushed by hardships and idiocy, and weak as an old man after twenty years’ penal servitude?” (662). Raskolnikov does not understand that one act of justice is not merely enough to absolve him from the societal and personal damage he has created and is not truly absolved from his suffering until, towards the end of his long and strenuous journey, Raskolnikov is introduced to Sonya, who understands “his vanity, his pride and his lack of faith” (442). Sonya forces Raskolnikov to realize that, in the end, ones sins cannot be absolved by a “one time confession without intention to act” (681), but rather, he must allow love to flow from inside and accept the cards he has been dealt in life to truly escape the pernicious mentality he has composed. The blatant message of suffering and acceptance Dostoevsky portrays, through the miserable and amicable lives of characters such as Svidrigailov, Marmeladov, Katerina, Dunya, and his most significant examples, Sonya and Raskolnikov, slowly reveals his profound belief on suffering, and his ideology that it is one’s obligation to holistically embrace suffering in order to achieve complete redemption.