Revealing Ideologies Through Feminist Eyes Essay

1816 words - 8 pages

Reflective Statement

Throughout Crime and Punishment, many connections were made regarding the cultures in the context of the novels. From this, we derived various topics that bettered our understanding of the novels. In order to expand our understanding of Crime and Punishment we considered subjects such as the differences in Slavic and Western Philosophies, Nihilism, the Golden Age of Russian Literature, and Dostoevsky’s other works, amongst others.
The topic I feel best captures the essence Crime and Punishment is that of the role and treatment of women and how the method through which it is approached reflects the respective ideology portrayed in the novel. The stark portrayal of ...view middle of the document...

One of these factors is the treatment and role of women and the revelation that provides about the respective philosophies being represented. In fact, the structure of the progression of the role of women in the novel follows directly with the portrayal of ideologies. In Crime and Punishment, the role of women progresses inversely with the depiction of the ideals Nihilism, Übermensch, and Utilitarianism: as Raskolnikov begins to abandon these Western ideals, the depiction of women changes from being degrading and undermining to that of a savior.

In Crime and Punishment, the role of the female protagonists clearly lies beneath that of their male counterparts. However, the true criticisms from the novel arise in the treatment of these women by both the main characters and the rest of society. When examining Sonia from Crime and Punishment, the most prominent description that is first introduced to the reader is by Marmeladov, when he claims that his “own daughter first went out with a yellow ticket, then I had to go... (for my daughter has a yellow passport),” he added in parenthesis, looking with a certain uneasiness at the young man. ” (Part 1 Chapter 2) His uneasiness and discomfort over the fact that his daughter is forced into prostitution reflects the negative association that society embeds in prostitution in general. In this context, the general view of society is anti-feminist. Likewise, the popular ideologies of Russia in the 1860s, the context of this novel, were composed mainly of Nihilism and Western Utilitarianism. The introduction of Sonya in Crime and Punishment was meant as a method through which Dostoevsky could critique society’s manner of thinking.

Beyond the introduction, the treatment of Sonya both by the text and the characters is somewhat evolving. Whereas society always does, and always will, treat her in an anti-feminist manner (as society will always continue to represent Nihilist and Utilitarian ideologies in the novel), her role in the novel as a whole seems to evolve from being solely a minor character into becoming one of the main protagonists in the novel. Accordingly, this evolution is seen parallel to the evolution Raskolnikov faces as he abandons his Nihilist and Utilitarian ideologies. Raskolnikov’s evolution begins with his confession, and so does the role of Sonya from being merely a prostitute to a friend. Both changes begin with Raskolnikov’s confession to Sonya, as he states, “"I came to speak of something... I have abandoned my family today... I need you, that is why I come to you" (Part 4 Chapter 4). Indeed, this trust he places on Sonya embodies her into the role of a friend, and shows pro-feminist ideals that despite her being a prostitute, she is a first a person and friend to Raskolnikov. This transformation in the role of Sonia is furthered by an even greater extent when she becomes Raskolnikov’s savior after he confesses to her. In order to save Raskolnikov from certain damnation, she urges him...

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