An extraordinary man is someone who doesn’t conform. Someone who can break the law to fulfill his purpose. The extraordinary man has no boundaries; he is uncontrollable. He can color outside the lines. He is the elite. He is invincible. He can even justify murder. This is the extraordinary man, Raskolnikov, of the classic Crime and Punishment.
Raskolnikov believes he can attain his goal of a pleasant world simply by murdering a pawnbroker. She is cruel to everyone, so to Raskolnikov her murder is a step toward making the world a better place. With just the swing of an ax, she becomes his first victim. However, this extraordinary man didn’t plan for the innocent sister to walk in during the murder. As a result, the sister’s life was taken with another swing of the ax. The invincible meets the unplanned.
Raskolnikov stumbles across challenges that extraordinary men do not typically have to endure. His sister is engaged to someone he believes to be unworthy; his crime is suspected by a local police officer; his guilt haunts him as he admits to a prostitute that he killed her best friend. He questions his own sanity.
Throughout the book, the reader witnesses the extraordinary man losing more and more of his humanity. With every turn of the page, Raskolnikov leaves a piece of himself behind, whether it is in the form of his conscience, his family, or the truth. As he lets another man take the blame for his crimes, he decides to abandon his family and search for forgiveness while still refusing to admit to the murders.
This book isn’t just another morality-meets-law story. Crime and Punishment looks inside a murderer’s mind. Raskolnikov’s dreams, relationships, and thoughts will scare readers as they find themselves relating to society’s worst.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.