Comparison essay between Crime and Punishment” and “Notes from the Underground.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s stories are tales of rebirth. He weaves a story of suffering and how each character tries to escape their misery. In “Crime and Punishment,” he tells the story of Raskolnikov, a former student who murders an old pawnbroker to prove a theory.
In Notes from the Underground, we are given a chance to explore Dostoyevsky’s opinion of human beings. His characters are very similar, as are his stories. He puts a strong stress on the estrangement and isolation his characters feel. They are both brilliant and sick, as mentioned in each novel, poisoned by their intelligence.
In Notes from the Underground, the character, who is never given a name, writes his journal from solitude. He is spoiled by his intelligence, giving him a fierce conceit with which he lashes out at the world and justifies the malicious things he does. At the same time, though, he speaks of the doubt he feels at the value of human thought and purpose and later, of human life. He believes that intelligence, to be constantly questioning and faithlessly drifting between ideas, is a curse.
To be damned to see everything clearly, like a window (including things that aren’t meant to be seen, such as corruption in the world), or constantly seeking the elusive meaning of things. Dostoyevsky believed that humans are evil, destructive, and irrational. In Crime and Punishment, we see Raskolnikov caught between reason and will, the human need for personal freedom, and the need to submit to authority. He spends most of the first two parts stuck between wanting to act and wanting to observe.
After he murders the old woman, Raskolnikov spends much time contemplating confession. He seems trapped in his world, although there is really nothing holding him back. He chooses not to flee or confess, but still acts as though he is suffocating, perhaps from guilt. In both novels, defeat seems inevitable. Both characters believe that normal men are stupid, unsatisfied, and confused. Perhaps they are right, but both characters fail to see the positive aspects of humans. The closest moment was the scene between the narrator of Notes from the Underground and Liza. In this scene, he almost lets his human side show, rather than the insecure, closed-off person he normally is. I assert that Dostoyevsky’s characters are clinically depressive in some way.
They complain of detachment from life and alienation from other people, just going through the motions. They are suffering but unwilling to give up and helpless in terms of feeling better. They are confused about what to do in the future and see it only as a bleak possibility, with more problems. With the collapse of certainty, men and women will do crazy things.