hazel_piper: (cup)
Raskolnikov lives in a tiny little closet of a room. He sleeps on a ragged couch in his clothes using his overcoat as a blanket and rags as a pillow because he cannot afford anything else. He had to drop out of the university because of lack of money. He cannot pay his rent and his landlady has stopped sending him food and stopped cleaning his room. Raskolnikov's living conditions further emphasize the wretched condition he was in both physically and mentally. Dostoevsky's description of Raskolnikov's surroundings contribute to our understanding of Raskolnikov and help us get to know him because they are a reflection of his personality.

Raskolnikov is intelligent. He was studying law at university and was doing well in it but lack of money forced him to drop out. At times he seems very kind and considerate. He leaves money for Marmeladov's family and he tries to help a young drunken girl in the street. But while helping the drunken girl he has a complete personality shift and no longer cares what happens to her. He becomes very cold and indifferent. This instability can be seen throughout Parts One and Two as his personality shifts from one to the other. At times Raskolnikov cannot even think of killing Alena but a little while later he is coldly plotting her death. He tells himself that money will do more good in his hands than in hers. He will help the poor with it whereas she wouldn't. He figured no one will miss her when she dies.

When Raskolnikov kills the old woman, he is able to keep some semblance of control--while still nervous (his hands shake), he is able to think and plan. Raskolnikov has convinced himself that her murder is not a "crime"--she is a horrible, spiteful old woman who does more harm than anything. By killing her and taking her money, Raskolnikov thinks he can become a "great man" and help others. By telling himself that a greater good will come of his actions, he is able to reconcile himself with the thought of murder. But when Raskolnikov kills Lizaveta--an unpremeditated act, done at the moment to cover up the old woman's murder--everything falls apart. With Lizaveta, it is no longer a matter of committing a violent act against an evil woman to save others, but the taking of a completely innocent life. Lizaveta is completely harmless (child-like) and has been mistreated all of her life. Lizaveta is the type of person Raskolnikov wanted to SAVE with Alena's money. When Raskolnikov kills Lizaveta, he has no intellectual theories to hide behind. He is faced with his own act for what it was--murder.

Raskolnikov's dream about Mikolka and the horse was a foreshadowing of Lizaveta's murder. The horse had done nothing and did not deserve to be brutally killed. Lizaveta is the same way--she is harmless and has done nothing to deserve murder. Mikolka kills the horse because he is trying to make it fit his plans--he wants his horse to pull all his buddies at a gallop to impress them. Raskolnikov kills Lizaveta to conform to his plan--he wants to murder Alena and take her money and having an eyewitness would ruin that. Lizaveta is murdered so that she cannot implicate Raskolnikov so that he may become the "great man."

Role of guilt in Crime and Punishment: The beginnings of guilt first appear in Raskolnikov BEFORE he commits his crime. His guilt begins when he begins to plan the murder of the pawnbroker. Raskolnikov cannot decide whether or not to committ the murder--whenever he does decide to murder the pawnbroker, Raskolnikov becomes even more distracted and indifferent. After the murder, Raskolnikov's guilt increases. He becomes very ill, sinking into delirium. His guilt causes an intense preoccupation with the murder and his own guilt.

I've been enjoying Razumikhin's character very much. Early on in Crime and Punishment, we've been introduced to characters less than desirable--Marmeladov who drinks away his family's money, his wife Katerina who constantly berates her husband, the pawnbroker who takes advantage of other's misfortunes, and, of course, Raskolnikov himself wo displays good qualities but is also a murderer. But Rasumikhin is pure kindness. He does everything in his power to help Raskolnikov even though Raskolnikov doesn't seem to appreciate it and constantly rebukes him for it. And Razumikhin helps Raskolnikov's family simply because they are dear to Raskolnikov.

I'm also really enjoying Porfiry. He presents himself as a bit of a bumbling fool (he's constantly laughing and bustling about and trying to appear overly friendly)--but he is, in fact, very intelligent. He knows EXACTLY what he's doing. He has pegged Raskolnikov's character and is playing off Raskolnikov to get him to confess. But he does all this while seeming like nothing more than a genial little man who is trying to be friendly. Porfiry keeps Raskolnikov constantly on edge--Raskolnikov doesn't know quite what to believe about Porfiry (does he know or doesn't he?). And that is exactly what Porfiry wants. By keeping Raskolnikov on edge and questioning, Raskolnikov is more likely to slip up and give himself away.

Porfiry's meeting with Raskolnikov was a good look at Porfiry's abilities. Porfiry recites to Raskolnikov, under the guise of telling him what the real murderer will do, everything Raskolnikov has done so far. Raskolnikov cannot be sure if Porfiry truely knows and becomes more and more upset (and likely to give himself away). He even manages to the "mistake" with Nikolay to his advantage. Raskolnikov thinks Porfiry badgered Nikolay into a confession and is now trying to do the same to him. {Prof marginal comments between this paragraph and next: Good entries}

Raskolnikov is drawn to Sonya--he feels the need to confide in her. Sonya is a sinner, just as Raskolnikov is. But she has something he does not--a deep and unwavering belief in God. She suffers to help her family. Her great love for her family helps her survive her suffering. And she believes God will standy by her and protect her because of this. Even though Sonya has a very low place in society because of her "immorality," she remains good and kind and hopeful. Her goodness is one of the things that attracts Raskolnikov. But Raskolnikov is also drawn to Svidrigaylov. Svidrigaylov is the exact opposite of Sonya. He lives only for his own pleasure, uncaring of who he hurts. Svidrigaylov has the ability to be one of the "great men" Raskolnikov theorizes about (and who he was seeing if he could become).

Dostoevsky gives us a nice contrast between the two people (Svidrigaylov and Sonya) Raskolnikov is drawn to. Sonya, on the one hand, is good and kind and moral (despite her occupation). But Svidrigaylov is cold and calculating and immoral, without conscience. As we read about Raskolnikov's interactions with these two, we have to wonder which one he will become. Will he follow Sonya's goodness or Svidrigaylov's evilness?

Dreams: In Raskolnikov's first dream, he is a child walking with his father. He sees a man, Mikolka, beating his cart horse, trying to make her pull a load much too heavy for her. Mikolka kills the horse, horrifying young Raskolnikov. In his dream, Raskolnikov attacks Mikolka because of the senseless death of the horse. But Raskolnikov's father pulls young Raskolnikov away, telling him that its none of their business. This dream occurs before Raskolnikov commits the murder of the pawnbroker and Lizaveta. The images of the horse being beaten with the ax shows that Raskolnikov's thoughts are dominated by his plan to murder the pawnbroker with an axe. The aspects of his dream represent the different parts and people of his plan. Mikolka represents Raskolnikov himself. {Prof marginal comments: downward pointing arrow from this point towards bottom of page}. Mikolka has killed the horse for his own "benefit"--to prove he is more powerful than it and to save his pride. Raskolnikov plans to murder the pawnbroker for his own benefit (although that is not his rationale). He claims that he will murder to help those around him, but by "helping" others he will be bringing himself power and money. The horse in many ways represents the pawnbroker. Just as the killing of the horse was Mikolka's way of saving his pride, the killing of the pawnbroker would save Raskolnikov's pride and raise him from poverty. The horse had done nothing to deserve such a brutal death; she just happened to be in teh wrong place. The pawnbroker became the focus of Raskolnikov's plans by chance. Looking back on the dream after the murder, the horse could also represent Lizaveta. Both the horse and Lizaveta were innocent and undeserving of death. Young Raskolnikov is Raskolnikov's conscience. Young Raskolnikov knows the murder of the horse is wrong and protests it. Raskolnikov's conscience bothers him about what he plans to do and many times he decides against murder. But he always changes his mind and the plans for the murder continue. Raskolnikov's father in the dream represents Raskolnikov's theory that some men have the right to do anything to gain power. This theory continually suppresses Raskolnikov's conscience when it tells him murder is wrong. In the same way, the father from the dream tells young Raskolnikov, the conscience, to leave things alone.

After the murders, Raskolnikov has another dream. In this dream, Raskolnikov is following a man in a trench coat down the street. He follows the man into an apartment building and finds himself in the pawnbroker's apartment. The pawnbroker is sitting in a chair laughing and Raskolnikov begins beating her with the ax but she refuses to die. Raskolnikov hears noises from the bedroom and is certain there is someone there. He continues to beat the pawnbroker and soon everyone is laughing at him. A crowd has gathered around him and they are all laughing. This dream occurs after the murders have occured showing that his thoughts are still dominated by the murders. The pawnbroker in this dream represents Raskolnikov's own conscience. The pawnbroker's laughter disturbs Raskolnikov. It angers him. Raskolnikov's conscience has been bothering him about the murders--it has made him ill and withdrawn. The fact that his conscience is disturbing him despite the fact that he believes he was right angers him. Raskolnikov does not want to admit that he may have been wrong. The ax in his dream represents his theory. Using the ax, Raskolnikov tries to beat down the pawnbroker and silence her. In the same way, Raskolnikov's conscience tells him he's done wrong, but he uses his theory to try and defeat his conscience. But just as he is unable to stop the pawnbroker in his dream, he is unable to make his conscience leave him alone.

{Prof comments at bottom: Good observations}
hazel_piper: (cup)
Dostoevsky's style is very straightforward and conversational. It feels as though the narrator is speaking directly to the reader. The narrator very cleverly directs the reader by periodically stopping the narrative to repeat the listener's "comments" and to tell their "actions."

The narrator's view of humanity is bleak. In Part One, the narrator is focusing on the negative qualities of man--spite, pride, revenge, war, self-absorption.

Dostoevsky uses the motif of "two times two." This motif serves more than one purpose: 1) It "holds" the narrator's comments together, providing continuity and continually reminding us that his comments are all connected and return to the beginning {prof comment in margin: nice}. 2) Inevitableness--in some things, it will always be the same, just as two times two will always be four (even though "two times two makes five is sometimes also a very charming little thing"). Reiteration of two times two emphasizes the narrator's point in the unchanging ways of man in some areas (ie: civilization is supposed to make man civil and yet he is still swimming in bloodshed--the nature of man was not changed by civilization).

"Apropos of Wet Snow" moves us from the dialogue of the older Underground Man to the events of his "youth" (flashback through dialogue)

The Underground Man talks of spite. On page 17: man becomes bloodthirsty in a nastier, more repulsive way; page 6: becoming sunk in the morass and bogged down by it--pleasure at some revolting deed; page 11: man with toothache; etc. In "Apropos," the Underground Man shows instances from his own past--the tormenting of Liza, joining the fairwell party, etc.

Page 31-2: The romantics--understand and see everything, never reconcile and never balk at anything, yield to everything, treat everyone diplomatically, have a goal, preserve themselves and their idea of the "beautiful and sublime." The Russion romantic is far different from the English romantic writers. Blake and Wordsworth were interested in reform and in man being more than what he is-->idealizing. The Underground Man fits part of his "romantic" description. As a young man, he believed he knew more, saw more, and understood more--but here it ends. He could not fulfill the rest; he wanted others to suffer as he suffered (could not treat all diplomatically). The "beautiful and sublime" he could see only in his dreams and even then they were anything but ideal (ie: his version of love).

Part One shows us the nature of man. Man is contradictory with many motivations. Man doesn't always do what is good for him because he wants to exercise free will. Part Two shows us man's contradictory behavior through the example of the younger Underground Man. Part One and Part Two show the rational self and the irrational self and how they relate.

Rozanov: "Thought and Art in Notes From Underground"

Rozanov discusses the concepts of individuality and irrationality. He comments that man behaves irrationally to retain his individuality. Man will do things to ensure that things are not the same all the time. The Underground Man breaks the monotony of his life by doing things like obsessing about the policeman or tormenting Liza. He seems irrational because he spends so much time plotting and worrying about bumping into the policeman but it is simply his way of retaining his individuality. He doesn't want to be another faceless body in the crowd--he wants respect, he wants the policeman to know that he, too, can bump into someone {prof note in margin: good view}. And this "rebellion" against samesness can be seen everywhere. Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" has a good example of a man behaving irrationally to break the uniformity. In "Rime," an albatross stays with their ship for nine days--always doing the same things over and over again until the mariner shoots it with his crossbow. The Mariner had no rational reason to kill the albatross--he was simply reacting to the fact that every day was the same.
hazel_piper: (cup)
Ran across some old notes from one of my undergraduate classes and thought I'd transcribe here so I can keep them without having the paper cluttering things up :p Based on the collection of titles in the notebook, this looks like a reading journal kept for my existentialist literature class.....Will most likely try to transcribe one at a time so you will most likely see these periodically as I find time to type them in :p Am debating whether or not to also transcribe professor comments that were written in the journal......


Gogol, Nicolai V.: The Overcoat

Societal Message: Very Important Person treats Akaky badly because Akaky is not as high in the world--Very Important Person is accosted by Akaky's ghost (who steals his overcoat). Very Important Person is not as likely to treat people so badly after this experience. The Overcoat gives a lesson in treating people as human beings no matter what their rank.

Akaky is a bit of a drone--he works at the same thing, copying, everyday; he has no outside interests--he lives only for his work. And he holds a very small place in society and commands little respect. And yet, Gogol shows us that Akaky is much more--he is a person with feelings and dreams (even if they are "small"). To Akaky, a new overcoat is extremely important. It may not be much to us, but to him it was everything. When he loses his coat and no one pays any attention to him, he cannot take it and after death haunts people until he gets a replacement coat from Very Important Person.
hazel_piper: (Bryce grumpy face)
Feeling very very very very stressed out today. ugh. Tried watching tv to get my mind off things and ended up feeling stressed out over the show :p LOL I suppose I perhaps would not normally get so worked up over something I normally watch while folding laundry or cleaning but the stress has to come out somewhere, eh?

I should just like to say that whoever thought up season four of Bramwell should have stopped with season three. And if I could magically make season four disappear, I would. WTH, writers? For three seasons, I enjoyed Eleanor--she made mistakes and had her moments where I was irritated with her but she was likable and admirable and I liked her. And then season four came about and it was as though Eleanor was a different person and I found myself wishing she would just disappear and not come back. Or that perhaps the show would suddenly turn sci-fi and go back in time and restore Eleanor to the way she used to be.....

My take-my-mind-off-things-and-relax-me-so-I-can-sleep tv time instead irritated me even further.

Perhaps tomorrow will be better?
hazel_piper: (Default)
Is it odd that I am looking forward to the fact that my husband is taking a math class this semester? I am better at math than he is and I know I'll be tutoring him through it but instead of being daunted by the task of being full time care-giver to three children, including one newborn, plus teaching my husband math that frankly confuses him a bit, I look forward to it :) I like math. I have always liked math--I used to work through calculus theorums to relax me :p Its been awhile since I have done some of the stuff he's going to be learning so I'll have to read and practice with him so I can show him how to do it (he is not a "read a book and know how to do it" type learner. He needs hands on teaching and its an online class so no face-to-face instruction) but I always enjoyed reading it over and figuring out how to do it. Plus he bought the required calculator today (TI-89 Titanium) and it is way cooler and does more stuff than my old high school 83 and undergrad 85 calculators ;) New toy!

I am also quite excited by the fact that I got my bill in the mail today for the subscription to Smithsonian I ordered myself :p I haven't had a sub to that mag for a number of years and I always enjoyed reading it. Publishers Clearing House had a markdown too good to pass up ;)
hazel_piper: (Default)
I am mildly amused that my first two entries in this particular journal both have the tag "I am cranky" ;) Its true, though, I am cranky and I shall proceed to complain now about the item that is currently making me cranky.

I am tired of poking holes in myself and am looking forward to Isabelle's birth so that I can stop :p I keep having to turn up the dial on the lancet-poker thingie for the glucose monitor because the shallow setting no longer produces enough blood for the test strip to poke up. OUCH. One small bonus is that the insulin needles prescribed to me this time around ran out and I was too lazy to go refill the script so I dug out my extras from when I was pregnant with Bryce--those needles are slightly thinner and shorter and they don't hurt as badly. The difference is very small but apparently it is enough :D I only have to inject once a day but even so, once a day with less pain? Awesome. After B was born, my blood glucose levels dropped back to normal almost immediately so let us hope it happens again that swiftly because the less times I have to poke the fingers, the better......

Twenty minutes til my next round of testing and meds and then I can sleep!
hazel_piper: (Default)
Why do people start a words-with-friends/scrabble game with you and then quit as soon as they get just a few points behind? Even when it becomes painfully obvious that I will never catch up, I keep playing so I can learn new words and get better.

Yes, I am cranky ;)

And I crave coffee

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September 2011

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