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Razumihin: the Effective Conventional Character

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From subjects depicting race, religion and plot, the world’s majority does not see stereotypes and conventionalism as positive entities; yet certain literary works take a negative aspect and turn it into a positive through characterizations, particularly with merited literary works. Such serves the case with Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, which depicts the psychological conflicts Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov faces after murdering an old pawnbroker and her sister. Dmitri Prokofych Razumihin, Raskolnikov’s friend, serves as the conventional character with his friendly, sociable and humble personality. Through his stereotypical characterization, the author succeeds with his purpose to create an effective foil for the protagonist and delivering the lasting lessons by enhancing attention to the consequences seclusion from human the public brings, highlighting their few but key similarities to answer the root Raskolnikov’s problem contains, and hinting at the he should become.

As a foil, Razumihin serves as a parallel to the persona Raskolnikov embodies and, in effect, accents his characteristics. Razumihin’s approachable and sympathetic personality allows him to interact positively with most men and women, including respected men such as Zametov and Porfiry. He throws parties located at his home and immediately gets along with both Dounia and Pulcheria. While such a characteristic gives a positive light to the character, it also calls to the reader’s attention to matters pertaining to Raskolnikov’s own social life. Due to the crime committed, he must remain socially isolated. Further interaction with other human beings could end to him drowning in guilt. Razumihin emphasizes, other than himself, Dounia, Pulcheria and, to an extent, Sonia, Raskolnikov remains alone. While Razumihin treats his friends with kindness, his friend remains almost cruel to his loved ones, unable to show his affection. “‘I can’t have it! I can’t have it!’ he repeated irritably, ‘don’t worry me! Enough, go away…. I can’t stand it!’” (Part III, Chapter I, pg. 183). Despite finally reuniting with his family after a long separation, he shuns them immediately.

Raskolnikov even demeans Sonia’s belief pertaining to God. Through a foil character like Razumihin, Dostoevsky underlines the consequences his crime brings. Not only does he isolate himself from the general public but also pushes the few he loves away. The characters Raskolnikov and Razumihin seem like complete opposites, yet some important factors, particularly their backgrounds, hold comparable similarities. In effect, Razumihin serves as a more effective foil to his friend and brings out the author’s purpose. The dire poverty Raskolnikov faces leads him to murder the pawnbroker and her innocent sister; however, Razumihin, a man facing poverty as well, does not go to such lengths. Both have intelligence and statuses as school dropouts. Even their parentage contains similarities. Raskolnikov lost his father with only his mother and sister as family; Razumihin admits he lost his parent with only his uncle as his only living relative. How could men with such comparable backgrounds result to such contrasting personalities? The answer remains simple: pride. Dostoevsky characterizes Razumihin as a very humble man. “He recognized clearly that the dream…. was hopelessly unattainable—so unattainable that he felt positively ashamed of it” (Part III, Chapter II, pg. 196).

Despite his favorable qualities as a future partner, Razumihin stays unpretentious because he holds the belief he believes in his unworthiness to marry Dounia. His humble personality and lacking egotism could potentially save him from poverty due to his willingness to work hard. However, Raskolnikov embodies pride—enough to the point he believes in his superiority to kill inferior beings. Only a great narcissist could approve the radical ideology certain men remain above the law. Raskolnikov refuses to accept the jobs offered to him, which could ultimately save him from the poverty he suffers, because his pride forces him to believe he deserves better. With the help provided by Razumihin’s stereotypical behavior, Dostoevsky highlights the negativity pride contains and the path it may lead to.

Though Raskolnikov’s unique characterization receives much literary praise, the public, without knowledge the book presents pertaining to his inner turmoil like the reader, view the man in a negative light. No matter how stereotypical the author portrays him, Razumihin embodies the qualities associated with honorable man. Due to their resembling background and situation, attaining each other’s characteristics in the past remains possible. Raskolnikov could even change himself to become a more respected figure in to the public analogous to his close friend. “She knew and had no doubt that he loved her beyond everything and that at last the moment had come…” (Epilogue, Chapter II, pg. 504). In fact, based on his actions in the epilogue, Raskolnikov begins to change into a better man. He comes to the realization pertaining to his situation and Sonia and looks forward to living a better life with her after his release in seven years. “But that is the beginning of a new story—the story of the gradual renewal of a man, the story of the gradual renewal of a man, the story of his gradual regeneration of his passing from one world into another, his initiation into a new unknown life” (Epilogue Chapter II, pg 505).

The author’s sparing use with Razumihin portrayed the many he could become, yet he also served the purpose pertaining to showing the readers the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel”. Every man, even ones with considerably criminal pasts, can attain a better future after serving out his or her punishment. Choosing such a path sets one up for many hardships, but remains possible.

Through Razumihin’s conventional characterization Dostoevsky, an effective foil appears for the character Raskolnikov. Due to such a contrasting character, readers accent the consequences his isolation brings, pinpoint his problems root, and bring attention to his metamorphosis. The author effectively educates the readers with the lessons he learns during his own life.

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