Christianity in Crime and Punishment Essay

1217 Words 5 Pages
Christianity in Crime and Punishment While reading Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky, the notion that it is a novel about Christianity seems absurd at first. Its central story focuses on revenge, murder and punishment – ideals contrary to Christian beliefs. Although the book may appear to be non-Christian, there were many instances where faith, suffering and redemption were present. These occasions show that the underlying theme of Crime and Punishment is one of Christianity. The references to icons, Lazarus, New Jerusalem and the constant presence of suffering prove that the novel has biblical connotation.

In the beginning of the novel, when Raskolnikov goes to the pawnbroker to pawn his father’s watch, Dostoevsky
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One of these symbols is the whip. According to the Bible, Jesus Christ was thrashed with a whip many times just before his crucifixion. They did this to him to humiliate and wound him. In Chapter II or Part II, a coach driver “violently lashes” the dazed Raskolnikov, returning from the police station, as he stumbles in the street. Here, the whip is used as a symbol of his humiliation (like Jesus) for his recent crimes. Also, in a dream Raskolnikov has in Chapter 5 Part I, the whip Mikolka uses to flog his horse clearly signifies mindless cruelty and the exercise of unrestrained power – the kind of power those who tortured Jesus had.

Because of the immense guilt Raskolnikov felt for his murders, he decided to speak to Sonya. In Chapter 4 Part IV, they share a discussion. In this conversation, Raskolnikov torments Sonya by doubting the presence of God. He says, “Perhaps God does not exist.” However, his cynicism did not endure long when he sees her suffering, so he falls to the ground and kisses her feet – the classic Christian gesture of humility and adoration. Once again, Dostoevsky revisits God.

Later on in that same conversation, Lizaveta’s New Testament in his Raskolnikov’s hands, and he asks Sonya to find him the story of the raising of Lazarus and to read it aloud. As she reads the story, with its message of hope and salvation, she has a hard time, but keeps on reading it for the sake of Raskolnikov. Lazarus is the brother of Mary and

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