Crime and Punishment

by: Fyodor Dostoevsky

Important Quotations Explained

1
What was taking place in him was totally unfamiliar, new, sudden, never before experienced. Not that he understood it, but he sensed clearly, with all the power of sensation, that it was no longer possible for him to address these people in the police station, not only with heartfelt effusions, as he had just done, but in any way at all, and had they been his own brothers and sisters, and not police lieutenants, there would still have been no point in this addressing them, in whatever circumstances of life.

This quote, from Part II, Chapter I, illustrates Raskolnikov’s sudden realization that by murdering Alyona and Lizaveta, he has completely isolated himself from society. His separation, which began before the murders, is now complete, as he has truly crossed over the bounds that formerly kept him tied to the rest of humanity. Indeed, one can argue that only because of his increasing alienation and lack of empathy for other people is Raskolnikov able to actually commit the murders. Additionally, the act of having physically accomplished the crime makes it necessary for Raskolnikov to cement his understanding of himself as a “superman” so that he can evade the bothersome, banal consequences of his actions. Much of the novel is concerned with Raskolnikov’s gradual breakdown and deconstruction of this identity in the face of his alienation from others. Only when he confesses his guilt to Sonya, someone whom he sees as a fellow transgressor of morality, does he start on the path of rejoining society.


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