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The Description of Marmeladov in Crime and Punishment

Often in literature a minor character that appears only briefly nonetheless has a important effect on such elements of a function as theme and the development of other characters. This is especially true in the case of Marmeladov, the alcoholic ex-clerk in Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. A dominant theme of the novel is that of moral redemption through suffering. Raskolnikov, who commits a heinous crime due to the fact he believes himself to be above morality, is beset with worry and guilt about his actions. Though he pays no heed at the time, in the beginning of the novel Raskolnikov is exposed by Marmeladov to the concept of divine forgiveness. In the course of the novel Raskolnikov need to come to the realization his feelings of guilt will only be relieved when he confesses his sins and finds faith in God.

It is considerable that Marmeladov is introduced in the very starting of the novel. In this way Dostoyevsky sets the scene for Raskolnikov’s eventual spiritual awakening. When Raskolnikov enters the bar he has just been setting into motion his plot to kill the old pawnbroker. Therefore, their first meetings, Marmeladov serves as Raskolnikov’s conscience, proclaiming in florid language that God will forgive all the old sinners come Judgment Day. He is confident that at the Resurrection God will receive him and the other “children of shame” due to the fact “…not one of them believed himself to be worthy of this” (Dostoyevsky 27). This suggests that the only way to redemption in Dostoyevsky’s planet is through humility, a characteristic that Raskolnikov surely lacks at this point in the novel.

It is clear that Marmeladov’s philosophical pronouncements are not taken seriously by his listeners since of his look. Not only is he drunk, but filthy and dressed in rags. It is difficult to give credulity to a speaker outfitted in such a manner, and so it is no wonder that Raskolnikov takes pity on his newfound buddy rather than seriously considering anything he has to say. In this way the sensitive and upright side of Raskolnikov’s nature is exposed, especially when he lays funds that he himself is in require of on the windowsill in Marmeladov’s area.

Nevertheless, regardless of his infrequent acts of kindness, the character of Raskolnikov, who is young, arrogant, and irreverent, supplies a direct contrast to that of Marmeladov, who is old, humble, and pious. The only traits these two characters have in common are poverty and guilt. However, while Marmeladov states categorically that poverty is not a sin and is rather resigned to his feelings of guilt about reducing his family to utter penury and his daughter to a life of a streetwalker, Raskolnikov loathes his own pennilessness and is obsessed by guilt. The difference amongst the two is that despite the fact that a sinner, Marmeladov admits this fact and is repentant. In comparison, Raskolnikov believes he shall just “get nicely and not worry” following his crime is committed (Dostoyevsky 99).

Drastically, prior to he murders Alyona Ivanovna, Raskolnikov justifies his crime with the rationale that her death will advantage a lot of other people, and that he as a superman need to not be topic to moral law. In specific, if he becomes financially independent, his sister will not have to sacrifice herself for him by marrying Pjotr Petrovich. This is why he goes ahead with the murder regardless of the truth that he, in contrast to Marmeladov does have a location to turn in the type of his mother and sister. Nevertheless, soon after he commits the crime and inadvertently murders an innocent in the type of Lizaveta, he is unable to cope with his feelings of remorse. In short, despite his dark impulses, he has retained his innate sense of right and wrong.

Clearly, Raskolnikov’s mental anguish stems from the reality that he cannot accept that he has completed incorrect, and so clings to belief that through his personal strength of will he could absolve himself from guilt that clouds his mind and visits psychosomatic illness upon his physique. Obsessed with this notion of strength, it requires him a extended time to recognize that his only salvation lies in admitting his own weakness and confessing his crimes. Ironically, the particular person who helps him to come to this realization is Sonia, a pathetic character even much more downtrodden than her unfortunate father. Like Marmeladov, who incidentally was the explanation she was forced to prostitute herself, Sonia acknowledges her unworthiness just before God but still believes that he will forgive her for her sins. Maybe this belief is in fact a result of her father’s influence, as in his very first encounter with Raskolnikov Marmeladov exclaims that God “will forgive my Sonia.”

Regardless of the reality that Sonia has suffered so significantly, she is nonetheless an incredibly resilient character simply because of her piety. Even though at very first Raskolnikov feared she would “worry him about religion,” most of her influence on him was through example (Dostoyevsky 446). Because she accepts her lot in life and has faith in God’s forgiveness, she is capable to enjoy other individuals, including Raskolnikov and her father, unconditionally. Drawn to this strength of character, Raskolnikov admits his crime to her and receives the ultimatum that the only way he can absolve himself of guilt is by means of confession. Even though this seems to him an act of weakness, it is only after he has the humility to kiss the earth and state “I have killed” that he can face the consequences of his actions and start his mental healing (Dostoyevsky 433).

In the finish, one could not say that Raskolnikov has a spiritual awakening. His enjoy of Sonia does alter his attitude towards life. Nonetheless, in the theological sense, at the novel’s conclusion he is still somewhat of a skeptic. Marveling at his newfound comfort in the New Testament, he doubts regardless of whether Sonia’s “convictions are [his] at last” (Dostoyevsky 446). At greatest, Raskolnikov’s internal schism begins to heal as he moves closer to obtaining faith in God with no possessing a true expertise of revelation. Rather than cheapening the acquisition of divine grace, Dostoyevsky makes it clear that faith arises only out of years of struggle and not a little suffering. The novel ends on the hopeful note that Raskolnikov’s soul is steadily being renewed as he passes “from a single planet to another” and is initiated into “a new unknown life” of spiritual harmony (Dostoyevsky 447). It is unfortunate that only near the end of the novel soon after Marmeladov’s death that Raskolnikov is able to put his extreme arrogance and self-centeredness aside. In this way he starts to fulfill Marmeladov’s prophecy that sinners will locate redemption.
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