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Crime & Punishment


            Fydor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment takes the reader through the twisted mind of man who has committed a heinous crime and is living with the external and internal repercussions. Dostoevsky utilizes other characters in order to fully develop the complex picture of his central character Raskolnikov. Raskolnikov is defined through his relationships and interaction with characters such as detective Porfiry and his intimate friend Sonia Marmeladova. The intelligent Porfiry connects with Raskolnikov on an intellectual level but does not share same moral system; he commits to resolving the conflict by getting Raskolnikov to admit to the error of his ways. Sonia is in the best position to understand the split in Raskolnikov's character because she is portrayed as a woman whose soul is pure even though here body is defiled. Both characters similarities and differences shape the image of the main character.
             Porfiry represents the authority of the state, or the law, in his pursuit of Raskolnikov's confession. He is an intelligent investigator who is able to solve difficult crimes by rational deduction rather than physical investigation. Although Porfiry does "solve" the case by deducing that Raskolnikov is guilty, his skills as a detective are not of primary interest to Dostoevsky. Rather, Dostoevsky concentrates on the duel of wills between Porfiry and Raskolnikov, two brilliant and egotistical men with very different ideas about what is important in life. It is evident that Porfiry, a law enforcer, values integrity. For that reason he offers Raskolnikov the chance to confess of his own dishonesty and to break free from the chains of guilt. The major difference between them is that Porfiry's theory stresses the social good, while Raskolnikov's means social anarchy. Dostoevsky shows Porfiry opposed to both the legal and the moral transgressions of Raskolnikov's crime. He isn't that interested in putting the criminal behind bars; instead, he's committed to getting Raskolnikov to admit the error of his ways.


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