Crime and Punishment: Protagonist and Antagonist Essay

Crime and Punishment is considered by many to be the first of Fyodor
Dostoevsky\'s great books. Crime and Punishment is a psychological account of a
crime. The crime is double murder. A book about such a broad subject can be
made powerful and appealing to our intellectual interests if there is a link
between the reader, the action, and the characters. Doestoevsky makes all these
links at the right places. The action takes place between the protagonists and
the antagonists. The protagonists include Dounia, the Marmeladovs, Sonia,
Razumhin, Porfiry Petrovich, and Nastaya. The antagonists of the story are
Luzhin, Ilya Petrovich, and the landlady. Raskolnikov could be considered to be
the primary protagonist, while Svidrigailov could be thought of as the primary
In every story the protagonist is the character that the reader cares
most about. In Crime and Punishment the reader cares about Rodion Raskolnikov.
He is the primary and most significant character in the novel. We are introduced
to this complex character in Part 1. We get to know the poverty stricken
condition that he resides in, and we get to know his family situation as we read
the long letter from Raskolnikov\'s mother. Then we witness the murder as it is
graphically described by Doestoevsky. After reading this graphic description of
the murder, how can the reader be sympathetic towards Raskolnikov? How can the
reader believe that a murderer is the protagonist? It is, in fact, not hard to
accept this murderer as the protagonist. Raskolnikov believed that by murdering
the pawnbroker, he rid society of a pest. We realize that if the victim would
have been someone other than an evil old pawnbroker the crime would never had
taken place. He could never have found the courage to kill an innocent person.
It would not prove anything to him. So, Raskolnikov was not a criminal. He does
not repent because he does not feel that he had sinned. All he did was violate
laws that were made by society. Raskolnikov definition of crime was evil will
in action. Raskolnikov knows that he possesses no evil will, and so he does not
consider himself a criminal. He is capable of justifying his crime. He
murdered a pawnbroker that was of no use to society and wanted to use her money
to improve his life and career. Not only was he helping himself by attempting
to improve his career, but he was also helping society as society would benefit
from his career. He would also free his mother and sister from the encumbrance
of financially supporting him, and thus maybe even prevent the marriage of his
sister to the evil Luzhin. We are introduced to Raskolnikov\'s thoughts about
mankind when we read about Raskolnikov\'s published article. He divides man into
two classes: the extraordinary man and the ordinary man. He considers himself
extraordinary and the pawnbroker to be ordinary. Presumably, the murder of the
pawnbroker was an experiment of his theory. One could argue that his experiment
failed because he had to rely on his family and friends and because he confessed,
unlike how his theory suggests. Maybe he was not the extraordinary person he
thought he was. Maybe his theory was bogus. In either case, his theory proved
that Raskolnikov had an intellectual side. From this we can believe that he did
not murder for the money but he really believed that he was superior and he was
doing society a favor. Perhaps he was not superior, but it can be safe to say
that he did society a favor. The same society that he did a favor for does not
believe in Raskolnikov\'s explanation. Society believes that murder is wrong.
Society\'s morals and rules dictate that crime is wrong no matter what the
circumstances. It is evident that Raskolnikov did not believe in society\'s
definition of crime and he proved this by murdering the pawnbroker. We still
find sympathy for him, as deep down inside we perchance realize that Raskolnikov
may have a valid point and society may be at fault. At the end we are able to
forgive Raskolnikov for he has finally confessed and will go through a moral
rebuilding process. We realize that Raskolnikov is the protagonist of Crime and
As it is necessary for a story to have a protagonist, it is also
essential for an antagonist to be existent. Oddly enough, the primary
antagonist in Crime and Punishment is the kind of character that the protagonist
would like to be. Arkady Svidrigailov is Dounia\'s (the sister of Raskolnikov)
former employer. Svidrigailov