Themes of Nihilism in Crime and Punishment Essay

August 15, 2017 Philosophy

Nihilism is one of the most hard doctrines to accurately specify because of its equivocal nature. In its simplest signifier. one might see it an highly pessimistic signifier of incredulity in which the person price reductions even the thought of being. Therefore. to a nihilist. all values. relationships. authorization. beliefs. and emotions are groundless and empty. First popularized in Ivan Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons in 1862. nihilism is associated with a radical motion that occurred in Russia from 1814 to 1876. The rules of nihilism frequently can be linked with those of utilitarianism. existential philosophy. and anarchism. Dostoevsky demonstrates his antipathy to this doctrine through Raskolnikov’s mental impairment and eventual return to more traditional values after slaying the pawnbroker ( an action that was caused and justified with nihilist rules ) .

Raskolnikov’s self-imposed isolation represents one of the chief rules of nihilism. the thought that nil genuinely exists causes relationships of any sort to look ineffectual and meaningless. Because of this. Raskolnikov avoids human interaction of any sort every bit much as possible. His expatriate from the remainder of society merely serves to perpetuate his nihilistic inclinations. as he is able to distance himself from all other worlds mentally every bit good as physically. This consequences in his acceptance of Nietzsche’s construct of the “superman” . an inherently nihilistic thought that separates humanity into the weak ( the bulk ) and the strong ( the minority ) . Raskolnikov characterizes himself as a demigod. above the Torahs of his society. In this manner he is able to warrant his slaying of Alyona Ivanovna. which gives him assurance in his capacity to perpetrate the offense without mistake or compunction. He considers himself an rational. capable of higher idea procedures than the remainder of the universe. which in bend gives him a boosted self-importance and a high quality composite.

Raskolnikov is besides able to formalize the slaying for himself through utilitarianism. a doctrine closely related with nihilism. Believing that killing the pawnbroker would ensue in greater felicity for a greater figure. he exemplifies useful thoughts by puting himself in a place of judgement. and hence a place above the remainder of society. Throughout the narrative we are shown that he is non above the emotions and guilt that are the basic human reactions to an action every bit utmost as slaying. His ruin comes because of this very fact. as he mentally and physically deteriorates under the emphasis of his blameworthiness. His haughtiness is proven to be the baseless and heady thoughts of one who is genuinely a deeply insecure and unstable individual ( though Raskolnikov ne’er genuinely realizes this ) .

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Through Raskolnikov’s illustration of the impracticality of this principle . Dostoevsky makes his greatest point in Crime and Punishment. His commentary on the topic seeks to discredit the theory in the circumstance of an single “superman” by exposing Raskolnikov as a character who is hard for readers to place with because of his senselessness. Even Raskolnikov’s name is a symbol of nihilistic thoughts. the word “raskol” intending split in Russian. exemplifying the displacement from an older school of idea ( societal Utopianism ) to a darker doctrine: nihilism and utilitarianism.

Raskolnikov seems to fluctuate back and Forth between the two doctrines. moving on one and so mentally castigating himself for it. instantly and about unpredictably altering his head. This symbolizes the more human side of him fighting to acquire through. for case. when he leaves money for the Marmeladovs and immediately regrets the determination. saying “What a stupid thing I’ve done. ” His alteration of head demonstrates his nihilistic inclinations get the better ofing his effort at compassion. Ultimately Dostoevsky utilizations Raskolnikov to confute this new school of thought by connoting his eventual return to more humanist rules in the epilogue of the narrative. after he finds love in Sonya.


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