Thought As Represented In Dostoevsky's "Crime And

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Crime and Punishment is, by nature, a psychological thriller of a book. Considering the urgency and anxiety of the novel's subject matter and plot, Fyodor Dostoevsky creates a brilliantly conversational internal monologue for Raskolnikov through which the reader glimpses the killer's psychology. Dostoevsky wants his audience to feel as if Raskolnikov is engaging them in a tense dialogue: Not more than five minutes later he jumped up again, and immediately, in a frenzy, rushed again to his clothes. "How could I have fallen asleep again, when nothing has been done! That's it, that's it--the loop under the armhole--I haven't removed it yet! I forgot! Such a thing, such evidence, and I forgot!" He pulled the loop off and quickly began tearing into pieces, stuffing them under the pillow among his linen (90).

In this passage, Dostoevsky pairs a strictly descriptive narrator -- that is to say, the narrative portions of the passage illustrate the action objectively and without editorial bias -- with a conversational monologue.

On one hand, if Dostoevsky isn't drilling into Raskolnikov's skull and excavating the contents of his brain, then he isn't doing his job. But on the other hand, the reader needs to be aware of the novel's subtle movements, particularly visual images; Dostoevsky achieves this through the use of a narrator.

Technically speaking, the passage is narrated by an omniscient observer -- a third person -- but the reader doesn't get that sense at all. Dostoevsky paints vivid images using Raskolnikov's inner monologue, and those images are simply captioned by the narrator. It's as if the entire passage is taking place inside Raskolnikov's head, and he is imagining - as I often do - that his thoughts and actions are being narrated by an omniscient observer. All of this, combined with the...