Every murderer and his story are peculiar and obscure in the mind, with a number of components. It is always a mystery as to the workings of their mind and what compels them to commit such vile acts of violence. In the end, their motives and conscience preceding and after the murder is all that matters. Their reasons for murder may be an account of several different factors, such as the environment and society, their characterization and past, or influences from other people. In Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky, and The Stranger, by Albert Camus, protagonists’ Raskolnikov and Meursault commit acts of murder based on separate purposes but entirely motivated by their unique characteristics, and how they affect their mind after the deed’s been carried out.
In Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov murders Lizaveta Ivanovna and her sister, Alyona Ivanovna, an old pawnbroker, whom he deems a detested woman and his characterization affects his thoughts after the murder. In the beginning, before the murder, Raskolnikov is indecisive about following through with his plan to kill Alyona and he carries out an “experiment” as practice and to gain a better understanding on where the money and gold are. This characterizes Raskolnikov as anxious and uncertain, and not fully confident in his own plan and execution of it. However, this hesitation pursues until after the murder of the pawnbroker, where Raskolnikov feels dreadful and uneasy having done this act. He gets jittery and listens to his conscience at times, which tells him a different thing than his heart. For example, on the way to the police station for a summons, the day after the murder, Raskolnikov imagines that he will “go in, fall on my knees, and confess everything” (97).
Also, he debates with himself whether or not to confess it all to the head clerk, Nikodim Fomitch, where he feels the urge “to get up at once, and tell him everything that had happened yesterday, and then go with him to his lodgings and show him the things in the hole in the corner” (107). Raskolnikov’s anxiety and sudden impulses to admit the truth become more visible when he faints at the police station, as soon as the murder of Alyona Ivanovna is mentioned. He remains this way weeks trailing the murder, which further epitomizes his character. Raskolnikov’s shock and nervousness impel him to stay attached to the murder. During the days of his illness in pursuit of the murder, he seems to only be interested in that subject each time that it is mentioned. It is noticed by Raskolnikov’s doctor, Zossimov as well as Razumihin.
He is an indefinite character, in that he wishes to confess his crime and be relieved of it, yet he does not want to face the punishment. This example can be portrayed when Raskolnikov is speaking with Zametov, who works at the police station, at a cafï¿½. He drops numerous hints to Zametov, about how he is the murderer of the pawnbroker, however, it is assumed to be false and delusive as a result of his illness and delirium. Another example of Raskolnikov’s irresoluteness is at the final moment where he decides to go to the police office and confess to Ilya Petrovitch that he is the actual killer. He leaves the office decided upon leaving it a mystery, when he sees Sonia outside and stares into her eyes and he walks back into the office, revealing the long-kept secret after several different thoughts and instances of confessing, where he declares, “It was I killed the old pawnbroker woman and her sister Lizaveta with an axe and robbed them” (526). Raskolnikov’s consistent desires to confess the truth after the murder are the result of his characteristics.
In The Stranger, Meursault kills and Arab at a beach by shooting him once, then four more times, influenced by his individual characteristics. Meursault is generally a carefree soul, who may also be considered emotionless due to the lack of tears he sheds or emotions he reveals at the events approaching the funeral and the latter, itself, in the opening of the novel. At his mother’s vigil, Meursault displays a lack of respect, where he thinks to himself, “But I hesitated, because I didn’t know if I could do it with Maman right there. I thought about it; it didn’t matter. I offered the caretaker a cigarette and we smoked” (18). He does not show remorse towards his deceased mother, contrary to his mother’s friends. Also, Meursault focuses on details not relating to his mother, at the funeral; for example, he pays attention to the intense heat and all of the small features of Thomas Pï¿½rez such as his slight limp, wrinkly and sweaty skin, the constant taking on and off of his hat and his shortcuts taken to remain caught up with everyone else.
This manifests Meursault’s indifference to the world around him due to his unique traits. This also pertains to the murder of the Arab, since Meursault did not have a plan or motive to kill him, also lacking a guilty conscience after the murder. The same day following his arrest, Meursault ponders to himself, “I had read descriptions like this in books and it all seemed like a game to me” (64). He does not realize the situation that he is in, by killing a man, which is mainly a result of his type of character. Another example of Meursault’s indifference is his interactions with his current girlfriend, Marie, when she asks him whether he would like to get married to her or not or if he loves her. In response, he says “I told her it didn’t mean anything but that I didn’t think so” (35). In response to the marriage proposal, Meursault adds, “I said it didn’t make any difference to me and that we could if she wanted to” (41). This further explains his character and why the murder had been committed. It has been discerned by various people that Meursault is a taciturn and withdrawn person. His unique characteristics partake a major role in the murder of the Arab on a hot day at the beach; given that the murder was not transgressed out of rage or hatred but from the impassive and detached man that he is.
Overall, Dostoevsky and Camus deliver murder stories on different levels of understanding and character motives. However, both contain common feature, which is being influenced by their characteristics and the manner in which they act on their conscience when the murders have been done. Although Meursault and Raskolnikov are completely different in character, this is what persuades and prompts their actions and thoughts following the crime. Every person is likely to be instigated by his/her characteristics after any act that he/she commits.