p.p1 frustration in any of these developmental

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0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px ‘Times New Roman’; color: #000000; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000}span.s1 {font-kerning: none}span.Apple-tab-span {white-space:pre}A Psychological Analysis of Raskolvikov “I wanted to murder for my own sake, for myself alone! It wasn’t to help my mother…I didn’t do the murder to gain wealth and power…Did I murder the old woman? I murdered myself, not her! I crushed myself once and for all, forever.

” (Dostoyevsky, Part 5, Chapter 4)  Raskolvikov spent the entirety of the “Crime and Punishment” in a state of mental anguish, constantly deluding himself of the meaning of the murders he had committed. He claimed that committing the murder was the logical and utilitarian thing to do for the well being of the masses. That Anna Ivanovna was a burden to society, and the world including his family was better off without her. He justified his actions by passing them off as proof of his belief in nihilism, and the irrelevance of mortality.

He convinced himself that the murders were a means of proving his theory of superiority that distinguished him from the common man. However, he did not understand the true motive of the murder was not his hatred for the old pawnbroker, but rather self hatred that he was constantly trying to disregard. The actions Raskolnikov commits, and the methods by which he utilizes to cope with these actions can only be explained by a disintegration within his psyche. Furthermore, his contemplation of suicide and his ultimate inability to commit it, due to his regard of suicide as an act “beneath” him are proof of his dissatisfaction and his despite of himself.  Raskolnikov’s inner destructiveness can be traced back to his childhood. In Freudian psychoanalysis there are five stages of psychosexual development that are essential to the ultimate well being of a human.

If a child experiences frustration in any of these developmental stages, he or she will suffer anxiety and other mental disorders throughout adulthood. Part of this developmental stage includes an individual’s maturational striving for success or for love. In the case of Raskolnikov’s relationship with his mother Pulcheria Alexandrovna, it is clear that he likely suffered in the pursuit of achieving such success, a pursuit that followed him into his adulthood. Pulcheria placed a tremendous amount of pressure on Raskolnikov.

When he receives the letter from her it puts him into a state of distress. She writes, “You know how much I love you; you are all we have, Dunya and I, you are everything to us, our only hope and trust.” (Dostoyevsky, Part 1, Chapter 3) Through these words it is clear that being the man of the family means that Raskolnikov’s mother has expectations of him.

Furthermore, his sisters sacrifice of marrying Luzhin and his mother’s sacrifice of finding ways to send Raskolnikov money are seen as selfless acts, yet in Raskolnikov’s mind they are sacrifices that he must somehow reciprocate. The only way for him to match the sacrifices his family has made and truly feel as though he has been successful is through a profitable career.  His mother and sister are obsessed with Raskolnikov’s greatness. “Perhaps he may ever be a rich man later on, prosperous, respected, and may even end his life a famous man!” (Dostoyevsky, Part 1, Chapter 5) Hearing comments and expectations like this from a young age can explain how Raskolnikov is able to rationalize his theory of the extraordinary man. Even when Pulcheria learns that something bad has happened to Raskolnikov causing him to go away, she cannot relinquish her concerns about his career. She had become so invested in his potential glory, that the “love” she felt for her son had morphed into her craving for achievement.

When her ambitions essentially die, she quickly falls ill of despair. To have a mother completely invested in his success rather than his well being causes Raskolnikov to find tremendous disappointment within himself. Additionally the “sacrifices” made to fund his success caused him to feel like even more of a failure. His inherited attitude of superiority can explain his choice to drop out of school and avoid working a mediocre job.

It can also explain why he eventually commits the murder he has been pondering in his mind. The rage he takes out on Alyona the pawn broker can be seen as a reflection of the resentment he feels for his mother. When he kills Alyona, symbolically he kills himself.

He kills any chance of a future, and without a prosperous future to wait for, Pulcheria no longer has a life or anything to live for.  Raskolnikov’s philosophical justifications for the murder are strongly connected to nihilism, or the belief that life has no intrinsic meaning or value. Inherent in nihilism is utilitarianism, or the belief that the measure of the morality of an act is completely connected to the overall amount of happiness the act induces. Following these trains of thought, Raskolnikov is able to pass the murder off as the moral act to commit.

Furthermore, the lack of values as holding any importance in Nihilism justifies Raskolnikov to abandon morals all together. German philosopher Nietzsche also believed that there was no substance in traditional values. He denied that these valued should be held with substance, and that they were valid in any way. However even though he abandoned traditional values, he did not believe that a human in good condition could completely go void of any values at all. Rather he proposed the “Übermensch,” someone who could establish his own values, independent of others.

While Raskolnikov believes that he is acting consistently with this notion of the “overman,” in reality his actions are devoid of true purpose and justification. What Raskolnikov’s ultimate reaction to the murder proves is that his theory’s are essentially cop outs. Despite his disregard for morality, the anguish he suffers after he commits the murders are proof that the killing of another human being is not compatible with the human condition. While the act may fit his self proclaimed philosophy, it certainly does not fit his psychology.

  After he has committed the murders, and his mother has “accepted” the reality of her ambitions never coming true, other outside characters begin to have a swaying influence on Raskolnikov in his state of anguish. Sonia acts as a true and supportive friend for Raskolnikov, representing a source of light in his life. Svidrigailov acts as the symbol of evil and death. Raskolnikov in a way admires him because he is able to commit crimes without experiencing anxiety and somehow remain above the law. This ability is something that the nihilistic Raskolnikov strived to achieve. Ultimately the sense of genuine concern that Sonia offers acts as a catalyst for Raskolnikov to accept his sentence in Siberia.

When he willingly decides to go to prison he is symbolically deciding to relinquish himself from self hatred and suicidal impulses. He finally admits to himself that his murder wasn’t a reflection of the world, it was an act that he committed. An unjust and cruel act.

With the support of Sonia as a constant in his life that sees him for who he truly is and not what he could become, he is able to let go of the “idealized” and “superior” image stemming from his mother. In the end from a psychological point of view the murder was a sort of rebirth for Raskolnikov. The process of accepting the true motive of what he had done was one of understanding and growth.



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