Literature in Reformed perspective: Narnia (C. S. Lewis) and Crime and Punishment (Dostoyevsky) as study cases (Part 2)
Crime and Punishment
This is a story of a psychological conflict. It tells a story of a student studying the writings of Nietszche. Once he could not afford to pay his room rental, and he murdered an old woman, the owner of that place. He considered the murder justifiable, since as a law student he felt that there was ethics, which could be justified, surpassing law. He was influenced by Nietszche’s Übermensch (homo superior; the equivalent English translation would be ‘super-human’). But actually he was gripped by sinful feeling and finally underwent a psychological conflict. The major theme in existentialism is the dilemma between two choices. It was either murdering or being strangled with debts. But as he murdered he would be continually hounded by his own deed. And the consequence was that he entered into estrangement, even up to the point where he could no longer receive the love of his own mother and siblings.
This man, Rashkolnikov, sinned not for anybody but himself, and after a deep struggle, at last he dared to confess because there was a harlot (Sonya) who had to pay for her family’s living expenses (this is not an excuse for sin, though), who loved him unselfishly and prompted him to confess. Here confession happens in love, prompted by acceptance from the other party who loves. In fact, self-concealment is due to the feeling of being rejected by others. When there is acceptance from the other party in love, that will prompt one to confess. One who is loved will have the courage to reveal oneself as one is. Rashkolnikov confessed it to Sonya, because he could not bear it any longer–he was nearing mental breakdown, feeling isolated with himself. What is interesting to note here is that Sonya did not abandon him, but embraced him as he confessed. This is a true Christian love.
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- January 15, 2006 / 16:37