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Russian Novels

Youth is the time when each builds himself up so the world may shoot him back down. Every little boy is told that he has the ability to do whatever he wants. As he grows older, however, he will realize this is not true. Though one may exert all, he is still bound to fail at reaching certain aims. Fyodor Dostoevsky, in Crime and Punishment, Ivan Turgenev, in Fathers and Sons, and Yevgeny Zamyatin, in WE, tap into this universal theme. Each of the aforementioned authors uses the motto represented in a quote from Crime and Punishment, “...the destruction of the present for the sake of the better,” as a goal whose insatiability leads to a main character’s devastation.Dostoevsky’s psychologically analytical Crime and Punishment follows what happens to Rodion Romanovitch Raskolnikov after he murders Alyona Ivanovna, a disgusting old pawnbroker. Raskolnikov wrote an article on his theory that “supermen” may use any faculty necessary, including committing horrendous crimes, to alter society for the best. To test himself for this ability, Raskolnikov plans and carries out the murder of Alyona, though he kills her sister, too, with the idea of distributing the ancient woman’s riches to people who could make good use of it. Soon after, Rodya becomes severely ill, remaining in bed for many days. His article, which mentioned that those who were not supermen would feel very guilty and punish themselves, now proved its writer to be ordinary. “…they castigate themselves, for they are very conscientious: some perform this service for one another and others chastise themselves with their own hands….They will impose various public acts of penitence upon themselves with a beautiful and edifying effect;” After many torturous weeks, Raskolnikov finds his salvation in Sonia, a religious prostitute, and turns himself in to deal with his crime in Siberia.Rodion thought himself to b...

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