Part Three, Chapter Three
by Dennis Abrams
Zossimov proclaims Raskolnikov “well.” Raskolnikov’s “pale and sullen face brightened momentarily, as if with light, when his mother entered, but this seemed to lend only a more concentrated torment to his expression, in place of the former anguished distraction. The light quickly faded but the torment remained…” Raskolnikov proclaims himself almost well, and in response to Zossimov’s recommendation that he cannot remain without an occupation, vows to get himself back into the university. The look of “unmistakable derision” on Raskolnikov’s face. Razumikhin exclaims that Raskolnikov is in a “sentimental” mood but, as the narrator interjects, “Had he been more perceptive, he would have seen that there was no question here of a sentimental mood, but something even quite the opposite.” Raskolnikov’s silent apology to his sister. Marmeladov’s blood. Raskolnikov’s memory for everything he’d done, but not his motives. “‘A phenomenon known only too well,’ Zossimov mixed in. ‘The performance is sometimes masterful, extremely clever, but the control of the actions, their source, is deranged and depends on various morbid impressions. As in a dream.'” Raskolnikov’s happiness? relief? that Zossimov considers him to be “almost crazy.” Zossimov: “…we’re all rather often almost like mad people, only with the slight difference that the ‘sick’ are somewhat madder than we are, so that it’s necessary to draw a line here. And the harmonious man, it’s true, almost doesn’t exist…” Raskolnikov explains to his family why he gave the money to the Marmeladov family. His mother and sister’s fear of him. “‘I seemed to love them so much when they weren’t here,’ flashed through his head.” The death of Marfa Petrovna, who died of a stroke shortly after being beaten by her husband, Svidrigailov. Raskolnikov tells his mother, “‘We’ll have time to talk all we want!’ Having said this, he suddenly became confused and turned pale: again, that terrible, recent feeling passed like a deathly chill over his soul; again it suddenly became perfectly plain and clear to him that he had just uttered a terrible lie, that not only would he never have the chance to talk all he wanted, but that it was no longer possible for him to talk at all, with anyone, about anything ever.” The watch from Marfa Petrovna — Luzhin has not yet purchased a present for Dunya. Raskolnikov’s love for his landlady’s deceased daughter, “Really, I don’t know why I got so attached to her then, I think it was because she was always sick…If she’d been lame or hunchbacked, I think I would have loved her even more…” Pucheria Alexandrovna compared Raskolnikov’s apartment to a coffin, “‘But if you knew what a strange thought you just said, mama,’ he added suddenly, with a strange smirk.” The impossibility of talking. Raskolnikov again insists that Dunya not marry Luzhin; Dunya defends herself, saying that she is marrying for herself, “because I prefer the lesser of two evils…And such a marriage is not vile, as you say…why do you demand a heroism of me that you may not even have in yourself?…If I ruin anyone, it will only be myself…I haven’t gone and put a knife into anyone yet!…Why are you looking at me like that? Why did you get so pale?…” Raskolnikov reads Luzhin’s letter and points out the ugliness of the phrase “you will have only yourself to blame.” It is decided that Raskolnikov will be there for the meeting with Luzhin.
Violence violence and more violence…Marfa Petrovna’s death, “I haven’t gone and put a knife into anyone yet…” Although, I have to admit, I did laugh out loud when Raskolnikov’s mother told this story…”I could only picture to myself the tragic death of Lieutenent Potanchikov, our acquaintance, your father’s friend — you won’t remember him, Rodya, who ran out in just the same way, also in delirium, and fell into the well in the yard, and they only managed to get him out the next day…” Did anybody else?
Zossimov’s line “…we’re all rather often almost like mad people…”
Raskolnikov’s love for the landlady’s daughter would have been magnified if she’d been lame or hunchbacked?
And again, this from Raskolnikov “…again it suddenly became perfectly plain and clear to him that he had just uttered a terrible lie, that not only would he never have the chance to talk all he wanted, but that it was no longer possible for him to talk at all, with anyone, about anything, ever.” For some reason it brought to mind a line from Nietzsche, “That which we can find words for is something already dead in our hearts; there is always a kind of contempt in the act of speaking.” Thoughts?
And finally, the ending of Robert Louis Jackson’s analysis of Raskolnikov’s dream from his essay “Philosophical Pro and Contra in Part One”
“Certainly, the fractured character of Raskolnikov’s moral consciousness is revealed in this dream. The boy identified with the suffering mare, with the victim, as Raskolnikov does, initially, in his various encounters in Part One. Here there is anguish to the point of hysteria. The boy cries and screams and at the end puts his arm around the mare’s ‘dead, bloodstained muzzle, and kissed her, kissed her on the eyes, on the mouth.’ But, as in Raskolnikov’s waking hours, anguish turns into rage, and the boy ‘suddenly leaps up and flings himself on Mikolka, striking out in a frenzy with his fists.’ Mikolka is clearly the oppressor, the embodiment of the principle of self-will. Hey may easily stand in for types like the pawnbrokers, Luzhin, or Svidrigailov, vicious people exploiting and degrading innocent people like Dunia, Lizaveta, or Sonia, quiet timid creatures with gentle eyes like those of the mare. It is against these vicious people that Raskolnikov revolts. But in his revolt he is himself transformed into a monstrous, shapeless Mikolka, and himself becomes the alien oppressor, exalted by a new morality that crushes the ‘guilty’ and innocent alike. In the image of the child, then, Raskolnikov recoils from the horror that Raskolnikov, the man, contemplates; but in the image of Mikolka, Raskolnikov prefigures his own role as murderer. Raskolnikov’s dream has often been described as revealing the last efforts of his moral conscience to resist the crime. This is true: the dream is a battle; but it is a battle that is lost. On the philosophical plane; as a statement on man, the dream is the tragic finale to the pro and contra of Part One, the final smashing of ‘barriers.’
The dream gives expression, finally, to a central paradox. Here is hell, or, in any case, the postfall world plunged in terrible evil. Yet the evil is witnessed and judged essentially from the point of view of the innocent, prefall mentality of the child. The world of the ‘fathers’ – the adaptors, objectively indifferent to good and evil — is discredited (“Come along and don’t look…it’s not our business:); their Christianity at best (witness the ‘old man’) is shameful and frightening: Christian ethics dissolves into the aesthetics of laughter, the enjoyment of suffering, a Sadean realm that Dostoevsky explored in Notes From the House of the Dead. The Christian ethos is not in men’s hearts. The church is out of town, literally, but also in a metaphorical sense: it is hors de combat, passive. The real, active tension in the nightmare — dramatic and ideological — is in the almost Quixote-like opposition of absolute evil with absolute innocence: the inflamed demonic violence and sensuality of Mikolka, and the pure, idyllic sensibility, goodness, and anguish of the child. But the child, though rightfully protesting cruelty and evil, is unable conceptually to integrate evil in his prefall universe. this is essentially the problem, as Dostoevsky conceives it, of such types as Raskolnikov and Ivan: idealists, humanists, they are unable, at root, to disencumber themselves of their utopian dreams, their insistence on the moral absolute. Raskolnikov, very much like his sister, is a chaste soul.”
The Weekend’s Reading:
Part Three, Chapters 4-6
Enjoy. And enjoy your weekend.