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CRIME AND PUNISHMENT An introduction to Dostoevsky’s epic novel.

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Presentation on theme: "CRIME AND PUNISHMENT An introduction to Dostoevsky’s epic novel."— Presentation transcript:

1 CRIME AND PUNISHMENT An introduction to Dostoevsky’s epic novel

2 FEODOR DOSTOEVSKY  Born in Moscow, 1821  Father was a military doctor Unlike other writers from that time, Dostoevsky was a member of the middle class, not aristocracy  Trained as an engineer at father’s insistence  While in engineering school in 1839, father is murdered by two peasants Father’s death aggravated his epilepsy, condition he struggled with all his life

3 DOSTOEVSKY: THE AUTHOR  After finishing engineering school, begins writing  First work, Poor Folk (1844) was well received by critics Novel addresses poverty, a theme revisited in later works Novel makes clear poverty is a material condition – when see people without material things, see a person’s soul Also introduces the “infernal woman” – woman with incredible inner strength For Dostoevsky, salvation lies in a woman  Belinsky, major literary critic of the time, read the manuscript and burst into Dostoevsky’s apartment at 4 a.m. and hailed him as a genius Dostoevsky later wrote, “That was one of the rare moments in my life when I was truly happy.”  Praise went to Dostoevsky’s head – began to be disliked for his arrogance

4 DOSTOEVSKY: THE PRISONER  April, 1849 – arrested by the tsar’s police Had been moving in circles of moderate liberals  December 1849, sentenced to death by firing squad  At last minute, as being led out to execution, pardoned by tsar and sent to live for four years in a Siberian prison camp and then another four years in the military  Returns after 10 years of exile, married to Maria Dmitrievna who had a son from her previous marriage, very changes man  Very tempestuous marriage and Maria dies in 1864, just as Dostoevsky is finishing one of his masterpieces: Notes from the Underground

5 BUILDING TO C&P  Notes from the Underground  The Underground Man, narrator of the novel, gloats at his unattractiveness and challenges the 19 th century notions of progress, human improvement, and the possibility of a decent human society Underground Man acts against his own self-interests, isolates himself from others to show his independence  End of novel, tries to make contact with a prostitute – he pours his heart out to her but then gives her money, insulting her  Cannot experience the freedom without feeling love – two are mutually exclusive to Dostoevsky; hell is a place where a person is unable to love

6 THE LOVE OF A WOMAN  1860s, Dostoevsky is in bad financial state  Makes a deal with a publisher to produce a work in two years to pay off all debts  To make it to the deadline, had the help of stenographer Anna Grigor’evna Snitkina, 20 years his junior, who he later married  Anna took care of Dostoevsky for 15 years until his death in 1881  Many critics believe she made it possible for him to work  He dedicated his last great novel, The Brothers Karamazov, to her

7 CRIME AND PUNISHMENT  Began the novel in 1865 as a work on the theme of alcoholism and was originally titled The Dear Little Drunkards  Raskolnikov, in Russian meaning “from among the schismatics” as in a schism in faith  In working on novel, Dostoevsky wrestled with main motivation: Why does Raskolnikov commit murder?  Moves from just to make poor people happy to murdering out of love (both humanist concepts) to the Napoleonic Idea The good heart who had lost its way

8 NAPOLEONIC IDEA  Power for the sake of power  Society is divided up into unequal parts: the majority and the minority  The majority will be controlled by the minority who stand outside the law and have the right to break the divine order of the world  In novel, Dostoevsky pits the love of people against contempt for them in the character of Raskolnikov  Battle between conscience and reason  Dostoevsky: “There is only one law, moral law.”

9 NIETZSCHE  Nihilism – philosophical belief that all values are baseless and nothing can be known or communicated, opposite of humanism  Nietzsche saw this as a natural progression of European society as people were frustrated with trying to find meaning  Overman or superman theory – no universal understanding of this theory; goal humanity would set for itself and dictate fate the next generation; can be linked to Napoleonic Idea

10 BOOK ONE  Raskolnikov in state of conflict Unable to say “murder” – refers to it by other names  Story of the Marmeladovs, reminder of the endlessness of human suffering and the failure of sacrifice Sacrifice of Sonya, prepared sacrifice of his sister Dunya Sister sacrificing herself for him “…should one renounce life completely and docilely accept one’s fate as it is, once and for all, and stifle everything in oneself, after having renounced any right way to act, to live, and to love?” (38) Christian morality teaches humility, sacrifice but Raskolnikov is a man without faith

11 THINGS TO WATCH FOR:  Suffering – Who? Where? Cause?  Water  Vegetation – trees, flowers, gardens, bushes  Sunshine, darkness  Lack of air – literal and metaphorical  Christian imagery  Colours red and yellow

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