This discusses the duality of the characters in "Crime and Punishment."

Essay by Kal08High School, 12th gradeA-, November 2003

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To be human is to be full of contradictions. In the novel Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, the relationship between a young man that commits a murder and his friends and family is explored. The characters that Dostoevsky creates are filled with beautiful contradictions that make them all the more human.

The main character, Raskolnikov, is Dostoevsky's focus for his exploration of duality in character. "Raskol" in Russian means "schism" or "split." This name gives an inside view to Raskolnikov. He is torn between a conscience that urges him to do good and a cruelly rational side that pushes him to do evil. His conscience urges him to be generous and benevolent with those that are less fortunate than he. At one point, Raskolnikov sees a young girl drunk on the street with a lecherous old man trailing behind her. Raskolnikov finds a nearby policeman and takes him to the scene.

"I saw myself watching her and following her, but I prevented him, and he is just waiting for me to go away...Think how can we keep her out of his hands, and how are we to get her home?...Here, "said Raskolinikov, feeling in his pockets and finding twenty copecks, "here, call a cab and tell him to drive her to her address." (43). Then after he thinks about it and his other side has a chance to rationalize, he regrets his actions. "He [the policeman] has carried off my twenty copecks," Raskolnikov murmurs angrily when he is left alone. "Well, let him take as much from that other fellow to allow him to have the girl and so will it end. And why did I want to interfere? Is it for me to help? Have I any right to help? Let them devour each other alive-what is...