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Crime and Punishment Part Two: Essay
In Part Two of Crime and Punishment, the reader sees a continuation of many themes earlier presented, but in a new and more extreme environment. As Raskolnikov tries to remain clear of accusation, he continues to alienate himself from those who would love and help him, and hides his emotion from them, like the evidence he so closely monitors. Rodya is protected by sheer fortune throughout the text of part two, and it is clear that through beginning, middle, and end his secluded lifestyle, even in the weakness of his sanity, protects the faÃ§ade of his innocence and spares him judgment; at least for a time.
As one enters the pages of Part Two it is clear that Rodya’s mental and physical state have deteriorated as the guilt of his crime weighs on him, eating at his sanity and reason. Indeed, while he is obsessed with hiding such guilt-clinging to the bloody rags even in sleep, abandoning the loot from Alyona’s house, questioning everyone of what they know when the murder comes up in conversation- he is also tormented by it, wanting desperately to let his secret out.
“But such despair and, if one may put it so, such cynicism of perdition that suddenly possessed him that he waved his hand and went on. “Only get it over with!…”
…Coming to a turn on yesterday’s street, he peered down it with tormenting anxiety, at that house …and immediately looked away.
“If they ask, maybe I’ll tell them,” he thought, approaching the station…He did not ask anyone about anything. “I’ll walk in, fall on my knees, and tell them everything…” he thought, going up to the fourth floor.”
Rodya’s conscience is pleading with him throughout the novel to be moral and relinquish this terrible crime that at least he might have mental peace. However, Raskolnikov’s dualism also struggles against him in that his “reason and will” cannot let go of his secret, but rather needs to feel that he got away with it. This emotion versus reason creates a very nervous and confused Rodya throughout the text and he often panics, obsessed with the details of the murder, and other time gives up, hoping someone will catch him and his torment will end.
In hiding these precious pieces of evidence, Rodya must remain as alienated as possible, for he cannot control his outbursts (as is demonstrated many times during his fits in front of Zossimiov, Natasya and Razumikhin) thus he must control his company. Even in the heat of his sickness, while delirium threatens and he cannot care for himself, he tries to force away even those few people who would help him. Razumikhin does not give up, though, and he, Natasya and Zossimov are determined to aid Raskolnikov against his will, even dressing him as he fights near tears for them to leave. Rodya’s paranoia that he may be found out keeps his mind racing about the details and evidence against him that, should anyone stay near him or get past his rational to the emotional would surely imply his guilt. His reason and will fear his uncontrolled emotional side, wishing not to repeat scenes like that in the police station where he renders himself emotionally vulnerable to strangers.
Toward the middle of the section, it seems that Razumikhin and Zossimov are quite close to figuring out Rodya’s whole murder as Razumikhin accurately portrays Rodya’s clumsy, sloppy murder scene.
“But he’s not, that’s precisely the point!” Razumikhin interrupted. “That’s what throws you all off. I say he was not cunning, not experienced, and this was certainly his first attempt! Assume calculation and a cunning rogue, and it all looks improbable. Assume an inexperienced man, and it looks as if he escaped disaster only by chance, and chance can do all sorts of things! And how does he go about his business? He takes things worth ten or twenty roubles, stuffs his pockets with them, rummages in a woman’s trunk, among her rags-while in the chest, in the top drawer, in a strongbox, they found fifteen hundred roubles in hard cash, and notes besides! He couldn’t even rob, all he could do was kill! A first attempt I tell you, a first attempt; he lost his head! And he got away not by calculation, but by chance!”
For all of Rodya’s worrying and hiding, the truth, it seems, cannot help but come out. Raskolnikov’s vision of his “perfect crime” is marred by its inherent flaws and apparently thin disguise. In his own mind, he is an artist of will and reason, but in reality, he is a weak and clumsy, albeit lucky, murderer. He tries to deflect attention away from himself in clever ways, almost insane ways as in his near confession to Zamyotov.
“‘And what if it was I who killed the old woman and Lizaveta?” he said suddenly-and came to his senses. Zamyotov looked widely at him and went white as a sheet. His face twisted into a smile.
“But can it be?” he said, barely audible. Raskolnikov looked at him spitefully. ”
“Admit that you believed it! Right? Am I right?”
“Not at all! Now more than ever I don’t!” Zamyotov said hastily.”
This outburst of Rodya’s own emotional torment very nearly seals his fate with his own confession. He regains his reason just after suggesting the truth, that he indeed had committed the murder, but luckily regains his balance by turning the thing into a joke, which more strongly convinces Zamyotov that “now more than ever” he knew Raskolnikov had nothing to do with the murder.
Rodya’s luck has kept him hidden from speculation thus far, but as he sees, chance can “do all sorts of things” so he takes matters into his own hands. Towards the end of Part Two, Raskolnikov sees that his end is almost definitely to be found out, and his inner torment cannot take this stress, so he decides to commit suicide-the ultimate act of alienation- to cast an eternal shadow over the murders. He is only spared this fate by fate, as he happens upon another person in the river for the same reason. He is disgusted by it all and changes his mind about the ordeal, continuing on only to be distracted by the family of Marmelodov in panic for his safety.
Throughout Part Two, Raskolnikov tries to hide the evidence of his murder by alienating himself from everyone until he can quite properly figure out what he is to go with himself. The evidence in the novel suggests that Rodya’s protection thus far has been only from sheer chance, and also that he is soon to be found out. Raskolnikov’s plans to take hold of his destiny often fail or create more suspicion around him, and indeed his is weak in both mind and body for most of the section. The reader sees that not only is Rodya a complex duality, but also a scared and not-so-super human being. Dostoevsky deeply portrays this man’s struggle, and the Crime for with he must pay.
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