EXAMPLE ESSAY: The paradigm of human ideas and consciousness can be thought of as a box. For many, it is neat and defined, and creates the order that is so desired by the general populace. Those who have thoughts and ideas outside of the general paradigm, however, see such a box as constraining and limiting of potential. When they have the ability to improve the world, their world holds them back. It is then their right, even their duty, to step over such boundaries, so that the whole world may prosper, even if by doing so they commit horrible crime. In Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, protagonist Raskolnikov develops this “Extraordinary Man Theory” in his own mind, which evolves to shape both characters and situations in the novel. For Raskolnikov, and the other characters in the novel, whether or not you are an extraordinary man depends on two things: in which direction your intent lies, and in which direction your punishment/effect lies. If both of them lie in the future, then you are an Extraordinary man, otherwise, you are Ordinary. Razumhikin best embodies the ‘Ordinary Man’, the Russian folk hero who is cheery, traditional, and always wants to help his fellow man. For Razumhikin, both his intent and his effect lie in the present. For instance, when meeting Raskolnikov’s mother and sister for the first time, he wants “to kiss your hands here at once, on my knees…” In the most traditional manner, Razumihkin gets on his knees and kisses the hands of two peasant women. He shows an enormous amount of respect towards them, behaving the the traditional, Russian manner. The way Razumhikin helps people, like nursing Raskolnikov to health after Raskolnikov says “Razumhikin, you have been good to me, but please leave me alone.” whilst on an illness-induced romp around St. Petersburg. Overall, Razumhikin is nice and friendly, and seems to seek out only the best in people and have only the best intentions. His thoughts are Earthly, and so is his effect, as is evident when he wants to start a Publishing Business with Raskolnikov’s, his family, and a friend. He is a happy man, and only seeks to make others happy. He is the embodiment of the Russian folk hero; the strong, blonde peasant boy who is devout and traditional. He is the ultimate Ordinary man, as he not only stays completely inside the box of human consciousness, but also fits it’s proportions to try and enrich the lives of all who are around him. He is the Savior for Raskolnikov’s family, who Raskolnikov reported “already thought of him as their new son and brother.” In the same way that Razumhikin is the hero of Ordinary Men, there exists another man in this novel who exemplifies the corruptive influence of the New Ideas, especially when left without the desire to improve mankind. Svidrigailov, the Russian noble who attempted to court Dounya whilst still being married to Marfa Petrovna, is the very quintessence of greed and malice. A member of the aristocracy, Svidrigailov has the resources and the proper mindset to have an effect on the future, and take the step over the law to become an Extraordinary man, but instead chooses to take the step to satisfy his own Earthly desires. For Svidrigailov, his effects exist outside of the box of human consciousness, but his intent remains firmly within. When learning that Dounya is to be married to Luzhin, for instance, Svidrigailov offers Raskolnikov ten thousand Roubles to break up the marriage, rationalizing that “…in marrying Luzhin, she is taking money just the same, only from another man.” Svidrigailov is always crafting plans, attempting to get what he wants, physically, with whatever he has, including his large supply of aristocratic wealth. In this, Svidrigailov is the ultimate villain; one who has no scruples and sees the world through purely positivist and existentialist eyes. He has no compassion and no desire to be cared for. In fact, in the end, he finally kills himself, whilst saying that he’s “going to America”. In reality, Svidrigailov had satisfied every want he had, and had little other to do on the Earth than to finally kill himself. He had fulfilled every existential desire, nurtured every want until it was no longer there. He was ultimately bored with life, and found nothing in the compensation he received for committing vile acts, like killing Marfa Petrovna, as is implied when he sees her ghost say “you have forgotten to wind the dining-room clock”. Though he can take steps, and in fact bounds, over the walls of human consciousness, Svidrigailov has no desire to use this ability to change anything in the world, thus keeping him within the realm of Ordinary men. The only real Extraordinary man in this novel, then, is ironically Marmeladov. Though he is oafish to the extreme, and a drunkard, his status as a nardyf allows his family to have something to point to as the cause of their hardship. By bearing this cross for his family and ensuring his own laceration, he also ensures the salvation of Sonya and his wife. Oddly enough, the only man in this novel who can attain the status of an extraordinary man is the drunkard who was killed by being ran over in the street, in a vain attempt to fake an injury and get compensation from the driver.
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