C+P essay - Kulkarni 1 Anirudh Kulkarni Mrs Derrow AP...

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Kulkarni 1 Anirudh Kulkarni Mrs. Derrow AP English III 15 February 2010 The Effect of Environment, Poverty and Chance in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment Crime and Punishment tells the story of a psychological battle that takes place inside the main character’s head. The novel offers much insight into the inner workings of a criminal. Crime and Punishment takes place in the gloomy, depressed city of St. Petersburg. This city, filled with the impoverished poor, is the main culprit for death of the moneylender. The combination of poverty and the drunken environment of St. Petersburg provide a psychological motive for murder. Raskolnikov, the story’s main character, is destined to kill because of his environment, his economical standing, and his fate. The city of St. Petersburg is filled with drunkards who create an already bleak image of St. Petersburg all the more repulsive. The city is filled with “drunken men whom [Raskolnikov] met continually, although it was a working day, completed the revolting misery of the picture” (Dostoevsky 2). Alcohol is a depressant; therefore, it slows down brain activity severely thus lowering decision-making capabilities. Leo Tolstoy, the author of novels such as War and Peace , and Anna Karenina , writes that this alcohol usage creates a dual personality in Raskolnikov. One is the sober, “true life” and other is the alcohol-dominated personality. Raskolnikov did not live his true life when he murdered the old woman or her sister. When murdering the old woman herself, and still more when murdering her sister, he did not live his true life, but “acted like a
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Kulkarni 2 machine, doing what he could not help doing- discharging the cartridge with which he had long been loaded” (Tolstoy 214). Tolstoy suggests that alcohol severely alters Raskolnikov’s personality into a demonic machine that shows no emotion. This machine is capable of killing, as Dostoevsky also suggests. The relationship between drink and murder is abundant in the novel. “’[Katerina] drunk herself out of her senses,’ the same woman’s voice wailed at her side. ‘Out of her senses. The other day she tried to hang herself, we cut her down” (Dostoevsky 171). Dostoevsky does not attempt to hide the relationship between alcohol and death. Raskolnikov’s drinking leads to “tiny, tiny alterations- but on them depend the most immense and terrible consequences” (Tolstoy 215). The abuse of alcohol causes the dampening in the decision making part of the brain. Not only does it blur vision but also makes the abuser irrational. This irrationality inevitably leads to death. St. Petersburg’s construction and origins explain the instability of the residents that live there. According to Philip Rahv, “[St. Petersburg] was erected on the Finnish marshland with cruel haste and at the cost of many lives by the edict of Peter the Great, who undertook, with the savage rationality typical of belated and alien converts to progress, to transform his backward domain all at once into an efficient state militarized along modern lines.” This carelessness of
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