Alyonia Ivanovna In Crime And Punishment Essay

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Alyonia Ivanovna In Crime And Punishment Essay, Research Paper Erik Klavon mac-addict@bigfoot.com http://macaddict.home.ml.org/ Mrs. Griffith English IV H October 5th, 1997 Throughout the novel Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky develops the character of Alyonia Ivanovna into one that guides the flow of the book. At the most obvious level she is essential to the plot. After all, if it weren’t for her, who would Raskolnikov have murdered? In addition, Ivanovna?s character is of paramount importance when analyzing the effects her murder has on the psyche of Raskolnikov. Despite the fact that she appears only once or twice before her murder, Alyonia Ivanovna is central to the plot and meaning of Crime and Punishment. From the very beginning of the novel, the reader is aware that

Raskolnikov is up to something. Dostoevsky builds suspense by slowly alluding to Raskolnikov?s plans to kill Alyonia Ivanovna, an old pawn broker, whom he has borrowed money from in the past. This, however, is only one justification for his actions. To understand the rest, it is necessary to first understand the character of Raskolnikov. Raskolnikov is a person suffering from a dual personality. On one hand, he wants to do good, as demonstrated by his pity for Sonia and her family, on the other hand, he is able to kill Ivanovna. For purposes here, we are only concerned with the dark side of Raskolnikov, however it must be noted that the good side does exist. Raskolnikov is proud, self-centered and has delusions of grandeur: he thinks himself to be a Napoleon or other great figure

for which the common law should not apply. Raskolnikov has come up with a ?superman? theory, that there are a few individuals that should not be bound by the common law, because they are above the rest of society. These great individuals should not be hindered by society, but should be separated into a separate class with separate rules. Raskolnikov believes that he is brilliant, gifted, a ?superman?, and because of his talents, has the right to commit crime to achieve his goals. The fact that he does not realize what his goals really are does not prevent him from attempting his ?crime of principal?. It is on this backdrop of Raskolnikov?s ego and prospects that Dostoevsky paints the image of Alyonia Ivanovna. She is all the bad elements of society wrapped into one withered old

witch. She lives in a decent building along with her younger sister Lizaveta. Lizaveta is the exact opposite of her sister. She is kind, warm hearted, and fair. The dualality of Raskolnikov can been seen in these two people, the evil is embodied in Alyonia, while the good is represented by Lizaveta. Dostoevsky portrays Alyonia as evil for a reason: justification of Raskolnikov?s potential actions. Raskolnikov loathes Alyonia, as do the other people who know her: ?You can always get money from her [Alyonia]. She is as rich as a Jew… but she is an awful old harpy… And he [another student] begin describing how spiteful and uncertain she was, how if you were only a day late with your interest the pledge was lost; how she gave a quarter of the value of an article and took five and

even seven percent a month on it… she had a sister Lizaveta, whom the wretched little creature was continually beating and kept in bondage like a small child…? (Dostoevsky 57). At this point Raskolnikov is in a tavern, and is listening to this conversation after having just been to the pawn broker?s apartment. He is thinking that Alyonia provides no great service to society, but is rather a leach, sucking the life of those whom misfortune strikes. If he were to kill the old woman, not only would he be accomplishing his goal of testing his ?superman? theory, he would also be helping society by removing another one of its blemishes. While he formulates this idea, the conversation of the student mirrors Raskolnikov?s thoughts: ?… I?ll tell you what. I could kill that damned