Saturday, April 20, 2013

R is for Rodion Raskolnikov: Self Destructive Characters #challenge #atozchallenge

I first read Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment when it was assigned to me as part of a philosophy project. Back in the day, I rocked at philosophy. Now days whenever the topic comes up the best I can do is say, "Yeah, that Socrates was awesome". I'm totally losing brain power.

Anyhow, the story plays on Frederick Nietzsche's philosophy of the over man. 

In Crime and Punishment, the main character Rodion Raskolnikov plays with the idea that people are separated into classes of ordinary and extraordinary. Those who are extraordinary reserve the right to step on the ordinary in order to elevate themselves in life, they need not follow the common moral code since their lot in life is to be well, extraordinary. 

Eventually Rodion plays out this theory, testing if he is one of the extraordinary by murdering an unpleasant pawn broker who's a blight on society. He rationalizes that if he is one of the extraordinary  he has the right to remove her from society and use the profit he gains from robbing her to elevate himself in life. 

Long story short, this backfires on him. For weeks he is laid up in bed stricken with an illness others are at a loss to explain. He reaches out to a prostitute named Sonia for his salvation. In all fairness, Sonia's is a tragic plight as she's driven to the profession by a tuberculous ridden step mother who insists that she help care for her siblings since her father drank away every penny they ever had before dying. 

In the end, the burden of the wrongs Rodion committed drive him to confess and face the law. Only after serving a rightful sentence for his actions and the loving support of Sonia is he able to recover and be free. 

*Note: This is a masterfully written book, but not for everyone. Reading Dostoevsky is a bit like trying to eat a ten layer fudge cake, it takes a while to get through and you won't want anything more complicated than cookies for a long time after.

Rodion provides a great example of a self destructive character. There are many chapters leading up to the murder where it is evident that he is wrong in his theory and that things will go poorly for him, yet he convinces himself to proceed forward, mostly out of desperation. He doesn't have a whole lot going for him and every opportunity that provides itself he manages to muck up, like turning down jobs, not completing them and dropping out of school. 

In his case, in order for him to progress, he had to completely destroy himself and start over. 

During my search for other self destructive characters, I came across a list of a bunch of teeny bopper characters from bad TV shows. Scanning over a picture of Sarah Michelle Gellar reminded me that:
  • A: Due to its campiness I will not accept any characters from Buffy or Angel as self destructive.
  • B: Sarah Michelle Gellar was in a movie that has another great example of a self destructive character, Cruel Intentions

For those of you who haven't seen the movie, once you get past all the teen sex you're left with Sebastian, who sabotages the one real relationship he will ever have in his life in order to win a bet with his step-sister. Realizing what an ass he's been, he goes to mend things and gets himself killed instead. I guess I should've said spoiler alert there, but the movie's old enough that I'm going to try getting  away with that one. Anyhow, he dies at the hands of a guy whose girlfriend he took advantage of earlier in the films, so there you go. 


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A Few Random AtoZ Blogs:

Because the AtoZ participants list is so massive, I don't include it here. However, I would like to give some love to my fellow bloggers, so I thought I'd pick a couple of random blogs to link to that y'all can check out at your discretion.

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