A Psycho-Analytical Approach to Raskolnikov in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment

Last Updated: 28 Feb 2023
Essay type: Analytical
Pages: 3 Views: 192

The essential factors of psycho-analysis that are important in a interpretation of Raskolnikov's behavior in the novel Crime and Punishment, and whose conflict results in Raskolnikov's becoming a criminal are the id, the superego, and the ego. We see that these three parts of Raskolnikov's psyche attribute to his strange behavior and in the end his fate as a criminal.

Before beginning an assessment of Raskolnikov's psyche we must discuss Raskolnikov's background, he is an intellectual, a student, and we see obvious effects of an over used intellect throughout the novel. Although Raskolnikov is an intellectual at the beginning and throughout the novel, when we see a flashback to his childhood, we see a dramatic scene where Raskolnikov show's great compassion towards a horse. A conflict between intellect and compassion is a central point of the book. The conflict arises because intellect is not very good at being compassionate, and compassion is generally not logical. This is one of the imposing factors within the psyche of Raskolnikov.

Although Raskolnikov's compassion can be classified neatly under superego, morality principal. Intellect does not fit directly into opposition with it under id. Intellect would best be classified under ego, reality principal. The main job being to find a balance between id and superego. A very good example of this mediation, is after Raskolnikov gives money to Sonia. This is an extreme extension of his superego, the ego lets it slide by. But after Raskolnikov's ego or intellect analyzes this action he realizes it has broken the balance too much and he regrets it. Almost the same thing happens when Raskolnikov kills the old woman. After the ego analyzes it, the ego disapproves, again a tipping of the scale.

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A contributing factor to Raskolnikov's chaotic psyche and major factor in the morose attitude of Raskolnikov is his desperate surroundings. We are greeted with dark, dirty, desolate, city where there is no hope anywhere. He is surrounded by drunkards and prostitutes, there are only a few people within the novel who have even an inkling of contentment. Living in this environment it is understandable how he could be so miserable.

Getting back to criminality, we see that the criminal could most likely be said to be lacking superego, and be a person ruled by the id. But this is not really the case. Crime is a symbolic expression of tensions and conflicts in the psyche of the criminal (Introduction to Criminology, 2) There is nothing but a conflict, that for the most part has resulted in a stalemate. But every now and again, one part of the psyche takes power and this leads to Raskolnikov's erratic behavior. Raskolnikov's behavior is merely a result of conflict between two extremes, leading him to be so kind yet so cruel at times.

One thing which has not been discussed is Raskolnikov's theory that the extraordinary person need not adhere to law. Without going into too much detail this could be said to be an attempt by Raskolnikov to rationalize the desires of his id with his intellect. Leading him to the strange conclusion that it is justified to kill someone if it is beneficial to certain people.

In conclusion, Raskolnikov is the product of a cruel and desperate society and tortured by a chaotic psyche, and eventually his erratic behavior leads him to his downfall.

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A Psycho-Analytical Approach to Raskolnikov in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. (2023, Feb 22). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/a-psycho-analytical-approach-to-raskolnikov-in-dostoevskys-crime-and-punishment/

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