Raskolniknov: Complex of Superiority and the Existence of Exceptional Men

Essay by ericamccordHigh School, 12th gradeA-, May 2014

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Erica McCord


AP Literature and Composition

1 May 2014

Raskolniknov: Complex of Superiority and the Existence of Exceptional Men

Guilt can be both mentally and physically consequential. In the novel Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky Raskolnikov, the story's main protagonist, can be psychologically categorized with a complex of superiority condition causing him to conceal feelings of inferiority with "…notions of superiority" ("Superiority"). Dostoevsky uses Raskolnikov's condition to dispel the notion of exceptional men that subsequently leads to Raskolnikov's further mental depreciation, and ultimately, confession.

Raskolnikov, a former student, desperate for money, and ridden with guilt over his inability to provide for his family, develops a concept of exceptional men to justify his murderous actions, thus leading to his psychological condition complex of superiority. In a letter from his mother, Raskolnikov reads, "I hasten to tell you all about the matter, and though it has been arranged without asking your counsel, I think you will not be aggrieved with me or your sister…" (Dostoevsky 33).

Upon finishing the letter it is evident in his reaction he is aggrieved by his mother's words. His face is, "wet with tears…his face was pale and distorted and a bitter, wrathful and malignant smile was on his lips" (Dostoevsky 33). One can infer from this passage, Raskolnikov is feeling insecure about his sister's desire to marry a man, not only without his consent, but in order to provide for him. Anger, isolation, and hunger drive Raskolnikov to mutter to himself dazed and later fall into delirium. These actions are consistent with the psychological tendencies of a man with a superiority complex. Raskolnikov, rife with guilt feels isolated from his family, he is no longer in law school, he is starving, and to cope with those feelings he develops the idea that his inability...