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Crime And Punishment

Crime And Punishment In the novel Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky portrays the main character, Raskolnikov, in a complex and unique fashion. He could have been portrayed as the good guy, bad guy, or just your average man on the street, but Raskolnikov is displayed with more than one persona. It would have been much easier for Raskolnikov to explain his weekness, but it was more pleasant for him to consider himself a strong man (Chizhevsky 164). Raskolnikovs dream reveals that his personality is complex and double sided. His range of actions and emotions are more of a Dr.

Jekyl and Mr. Hyde type character. On the outside, he appears to be in control of his raging homicidal tendencies, but he is full of turmoil on the inside. Raskolnikovs dream presents these different personas Dostoevsky has given him. His dream also gives the reader a good, inside look into Raskolnikovs interior conflicts (Chizhevky 191).

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In the beginning of his dream, Raskolnikov is out in the street. He seems to be wandering around aimlessly, with no recollection of what he is supposed to be doing or why he is there. Meanwhile, everyone else in the dream is carrying on like nothing is wrong. Before delving into the significance of this scene, the reader must note how important control is to him. He is an extremely proud man, and needs to be in control of himself and everything around him at all times (Magill 222). In his view, everything in his life should revolve around him.

The beginning of the dream represents the loss of this control in his life. It seems that no matter what he says or does, the world will continue to spin, and the people on it continue to go about their everyday business. He can almost be compared to the young teenage girl that he finds wandering in the street due to the fact that any actions that this young girl takes makes no difference on the outside world (Chizhevsky 201). It is as though he has been psychologically raped by the murders he has committed, but at this point he is still unaware that he is no longer in control of his situation. No matter how he wants to feel or act, he cannot help his instinctual habits and desires (Mikhailovski 121). For instance, his health starts to fail him and he has this compulsive desire to reveal himself to the authorities and public by turning himself in.

His actions show his lack of control over whether or not he gives himself away. It is hard to tell whether Raskolnikov consciously realizes this or not. Through his own self-absorbed ways he tries to come up with every possible excuse as to why he is feeling the intense emotional conflict going on inside of him (Mikhailovski 135). He blames his irritation on bad company, hunger, the lack of sleep, etc. Raskolnikovs anxiety has to grow not only by the day, but by the hour. And this basically drives him to insanity (Hapgood 4798). He does the best he can to fool himself into believing he has not lost control.

However, for the reasons mentioned above, it is said that Raskolnikov never had control in the first place. In the next part of his dream, Raskolnikov sees the man that had called him a murderer earlier in the book. The man beckons to him as though he knows Raskolnikov. This part of the dream is an indirect interpretation of Raskolnikovs fear of exposure (Hapgood 4493) Raskolnikov is way too much of a critic to be a good actor. He thinks that other can see into him as he sees into them (Hapgood 4801). As he follows the man, he is unsure if the man is beckoning to him or not.

This compares to his real-life fear of not knowing if people are aware that he is the murderer. Many times throughout the book, Raskolnikov grows weak, because he thinks that he has been found out. However, the way he feels in his dream is very different, because he follows the man in the long coat even though he believes that the man knows he is a murderer, instead of fearing him as he would in real life (Mikhailovski 143). To a certain level, he wants to be found out, in his dream and in real-life. Even though it is a heinous crime he has committed, his own self-absorption blocks any sort of guilt we would assume a murderer should feel. It is a common known fact that most victims or victims family members want the perpetrator to feel some sort of guilt or remorse, but Raskolnikov feels nothing for the victims.

His self-absorption gives him this sort of pride for having expunged, what he considers, the scum of the Earth (Magill 222). Basically, his major conflict is not about remorse for what he has done. It is between his instinctive desire to confess and his stronger instinct of self-protection. I find it rather hard to interpret the scene in his dream where he tries to kill the old pawnbroker. This is a very significant scene, because it illuminates Raskolnikovs fear of inferiority.

At first he feels sorry for her, because he thinks she is afraid. This alone symbolizes Raskolnikovs feelings of superiority. The fact that he tries to kill her again signifies that he does not have any remorse for what he did, and that he would probably do it again if he could do it over. It is as though he is showing that he is better than her, and she deserves to die (Mikhailovski 145). The old womans laughter is another representation of Raskolnikovs subconscious trying to justify killing her. She laughs at him as though she is mocking him for being so incompetent.

As said before, her laughter challenges his superiority. In Raskolnikovs mind, it is more reason to kill her (Hapgood 4801). In the final scene of his dream, Raslolnikov is surrounded by people and becomes terrified. This is said to signify the foreshadowing of the inevitable. He is going to be found out, and there is really nothing he can do or say that is going to stop his final fall. The conditions of his surroundings have come beyond the strength of our impatient and irritable hero (Magill 165).

There is also a deeper meaning that I also found to be true, though I think it could be debated. Those people could possibly represent his subconscious looking at him from a third person perspective. They stare at him in silence and expectation and they seem to be staring at him accusingly (Mikhailovski 147). It is at this point he has lost the control that he has been struggling to keep the entire novel. It could be that he, even for the slightest moment, he realizes the immorality of the act he has committed.

It is here that he wants to get away. He wants to hide from himself. He wants to run away from his guilt and the reality of what he has done. It is at this point that he wakes up. That is how he gets away from himself. He wakes up and begins what he has been doing up to that point.

He tries to put his fears in the back of his mind and forget the dream ever happened even though, Raskolnikovs struggle with society is hard and hopeless because his own faith and strength is broken (Mikhailovski 94). Although Raskolnikovs dream lasts for only about a page and a half of the book, it reveals all of his interior conflicts. Through this dream he battles with his fears of guilt, exposure, and the immorality of the crime he committed. The reader gets a good inside look into how murder has deteriorated his mental state. This dream also dives deep into his subconscious.

Because of this, he is forced to deal with aspects of himself he does not want to deal with. I really would like to know, if the dream had not ended so abruptly, where would it have gone? Would he have faced himself, or would he run away again? Sadly, we will never know. English Essays.

Crime And Punishment

Crime And Punishment The crime problem in the United States has historically been misstated and exaggerated by bureaucrats and politicians. The intentions behind these overstatements vary within each context but a common thread emerges upon closer examination. As in any capitalist society, money and material possession are the primary motivation that fuels society and people. It could be argued that FBI director Louis Freeh made his comments to the National Press Club in 1994 out of genuine concern for the American people, but realistically the statement was made in an effort to gather support and increase funding for law enforcement. Following this statement and from increased pressure from politicians, the Federal Crime Bill was ratified, and authorized the spending of thirty billion dollars, primarily towards more police officers and prisons.

It also included many new punitive sanctions and the expansion of the death penalty to more than fifty federal crimes. Louis Freeh’s politically correct and unapprised proclamation takes an exceptionally narrow view of crime and its curtailment. Freeh chooses to focus on the media, statistics, and ultimately public opinion as his justification for increased funding. However he fails to realize the influence of the media and statistics in molding public opinion and the difference between public opinion and reality. Existing individualistic theories such as rational choice theory help reinforce Freeh’s statement.

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The overstated crime problem, backed by a capitalistic media and misinterpreted statistics has created a punitive crime policy, which is further supported by individualistic theories of crime. In this paper I will show how misreported statistics and media focus on violent crimes shapes public opinion. Then I will go on to demonstrate the role of individualistic theories in supporting punitive crime control policies. Ultimately I look to prove that the actions of the media and politicians are centered on money and how crime is inherent to the American Dream . The media never has been and probably never will be an accurate source for criminology or criminal analysis. The sensationalist media depiction of crime is almost always exaggerated and biased toward violent crimes.

From newspapers to television the crimes that get the most coverage and attention are homicides and aggravated assaults. However, in actuality ninety percent of all crimes are property crimes and less than one percent are homicides (Stephen Lincoln 9/24/01). The media also is fond of reporting crime clocks based on aggregate statistics. Popular and catchy lines like, “A murder occurs every twenty seven minutes, a robbery every sixty seconds,” are very misleading yet are used regularly. These crime clocks show no reference to a ratio between crimes being committed and the people effected (Lincoln 10/3/01).

Once again here the motives behind depiction of crime by the media vary, but money can be found at the source. Newspapers and television stations don’t want to report common and usually petty crimes because they are boring and monotonous. People don’t buy boring and monotonous newspapers; so to increase circulation and ultimately revenues, editors choose to emphasize and embellish violent crimes. This intentional bias towards violent crimes, even though they represent a very small fraction of all crimes creates a sense of apprehension and concern in law-abiding citizens. Television is also responsible for exaggerating crime and over emphasizing its focus on violent crimes.

Where newspapers can only provide writing and limited photographs of crime, television can take the next step in showing (versus telling) the crime and criminals. The television show “COPS” is an excellent example of the misrepresentation of crime and law enforcement. On the show you never see routine traffic stops or officers writing parking tickets, rather the producers choose to show shootings, gang fights and drug offenders. People throughout the country get to see criminals actually breaking the law on television. Given that the majority of the scenes shown are of violent crimes, people construct a violent and evil image of all criminals. While in reality the majority of police work is mundane, the show attempts to glamorize crime fighting (Lincoln 9/26/01).

These producers don’t care about how they are depicting crime or its consequences; they are simply concerned about TV ratings. Higher ratings mean advertisers must pay more money for airtime, which ultimately leads to more money for the television networks. By constantly and disproportionately reporting violent crimes, the media influence the general public into thinking there is a bad crime problem. The media produces several criminal fallacies and strongly influences the public’s opinion on crime. The dramatic fallacy has been discussed above as it relates to the overemphasis on violent and extreme crimes. The “not me” fallacy helps create a distinction between criminals and non-criminals (Lincoln 9/29/01).

By creating a distinction, people tend to believe they are not capable of committing violent crimes and that criminals are inherently evil and different from the rest of society. “Contrary to popular perception, the expansion of the U.S. prison and jail populations are not the direct result of a worsening or an exceptionally bad crime problem .. rates of violent and property crime have been in decline” (Beckett and Sasson 237). Since the vast majority of crimes people hear and see in the news are violent and heinous, they assume that there is a crime problem and that something must be done to stop it. The statistics that the media enjoys to misinterpret and report misleadingly is primarily taken from the uniform crime report.

The uniform crime report is aggregate data taken from 17,000 law enforcement agencies and compiled annually by the federal bureau of investigation. Organizational and presentational concerns arise from the uniform crime report (Lincoln 10/3/01). There are significant omissions in the report such as white-collar and environmental crimes. Also the definition of crimes chosen by the agencies greatly manipulates the data. For example some jurisdictions define rape as the forceful act of sexual intercourse, this omits the entire category of date rape (Lincoln 10/3/01).

Law enforcement agencies have a direct interest in the reporting of crimes and crime rates. If they report that crime is on the decline, then people will feel more secure and satisfied with law enforcement but funding will be decreased. Conversely if they report that crime is increasing, and make the public feel at risk, an increase in funding will occur and be justified. Individualistic theories of crime serve to contribute support to the image of the bad crime problem and encourage punitive crime control policies. The two hundred year old rational choice theory defines human behavior through the two principles that humans act in order to maximize pleasure and minimize pain.

This very Hedonistic theory facilitates the creation of punitive polices because it creates a need to harshly punish self-indulgent crimes. Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s there was a rapid influx of punitive crime policies like the creation of long mandatory prison sentences for drug possession and the expansion of the death penalty. The biological deterministic theory highlighted by C. Ronald Huff in Historical Explanations of Crime defines a “criminal type, or ‘born criminal'”(Huff 75). The theory works hand in hand with the media depiction of criminals.

It tries to show criminals as separate and distinct entities that are different from the rest of society. In this theory it is ineffective to deter crime since criminals are unalterable and predestined to break the law. Biological individualistic theories should be analyzed and critiqued with rigorous scrutiny. Although many of the sources for data acquisition in this theory are objective, the consequences and conclusions drawn from the data are subjective and open to argument (Lincoln 10/17/01). In order to curb crime based on the rational choice theory, lawmakers have fashioned policy around preventative measures. The foundation of preventive policy is based on controlling the physical environment. Examples of preventive measures are gated communities, target hardening, and neighborhood watch programs.

Although these policies are effective in curtailing crime in their specific contexts, “measures which increase the difficulties of a particular crime will merely result in criminal activity being ‘displaced'”(Cornish & Clarke 118). A criminal isn’t going to break a law that is heavily policed and enforced because his chances of getting caught are greater. To counter the supposed pressing crime problem, bureaucrats and politicians alike have adopted a very punitive system of crime control. They claim that, “The people of this country are fed up with crime” and that the people are the ones demanding better crime control (Louis Freeh, 1994). Gallup polls from 1993 to 1998 showed that crime was the most pressing problem in public opinion (Lincoln 9/28/01).

In actuality during this same time period the crime rate has been decreasing annually which does not justify the tremendous rise in government spending that has been allocated to the criminal justice system. This goes to show that public opinion does not necessarily mimic or reflect the true reality of the situation. Public opinion can be easily shaped and molded by forces such as media and politicians. More responsibility must be taken by the media in reporting statistics and crime because of their influence on public opinion. When influential leaders like Louis Freeh make statements based on the opinion of the masses instead of facts, the false crime problem is further worsened and perpetuated. Sociology Issues.


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