Crime and Punishment-Svid/Ras

Dostoevsky created Svid as a kind of double of Ras in that he is a projection of Ras's lesser self. Svid symbolizes complete depravity.

Throughout his novel, Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky created many similar characters that were parallels of one another, and at the same time, represented what the other tried most to get away from. Two such examples are Ras and Svid. In the eyes of society, no one is any worse than the other. It requires an examination of their souls to understand which really is the hero and which is the true villain. A test that only God can conduct.

Society was quick to turn on Svid. And for good reason. Svid is into the sensual and deranged side of life. He takes immense pleasure in women and doesn't care who knows. He beats his wife. "I only used the whip twice in our seven years…" (245). He also isn't one to dwell upon the fact that others judge him for his crude actions. "I am not particularly interested in anyone's opinion…" (246). He is considered a creep and no one believes that there is any good left in him. In Ras, they see good. They have yet to realize it was him behind the heinous crime of murder unto a lonely pawnbroker and her stepsister. Nobody, save Porfiry, can even conceive that Ras is capable of murder. The main reason being that Ras is much too intelligent to commit such a stupid, senseless crime. They haven't begun to understand the true character of Ras. To do this, they must first fully understand Svid, since he is, in essence, Ras.

What Dostoevsky has mastered so beautifully was creating two characters with such a display of similarities in the eyes of society, yet their inner beings are so distinctly different. They carry many of the same attributes and have the same feelings. Ras chooses not to believe it. He can't comprehend how he can be at all similar to a man who rapes mute thirteen year olds, sleeps with prostitutes, is partially responsible, if not fully, for at least two murders, and beats his wife. "That's all nonsense!" (249). Both Svid and Ras have successfully alienated themselves from society and their families. Both men believe they can assert their will upon others. An example of this is when Svid believes he can somehow force Dounia to fall in love with him. As Ras believes that he can convince society that he is superior to all and therefore needs no further justification in his killing of a lesser human, the pawnbroker.

There is one underlying redeeming component for Ras in that he feels pain and is eventually tortured by his actions. Svid is not. He feels no remorse for any act. Even in his death he eluded consequence and remorse by putting a bullet in his head when time got to tough. It was his final way of avoiding any feelings of guilt. Ras took the noble way. He turned himself and faced his own soul, rather than fleeing from it for eternity. He suffered, and once again proved that he is the true hero of this story.

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