In Crime and punishment, the protagonist, Raskolnikov, willing walks into exile. He has killed, but he has also found love. And if he can repent, then he could redeem. He and the woman he loves; can be saved. At least in a manner of speaking. Crime and Punishment teaches about conscience. I feel every textbook of English literature should contain at least one chapter of this book.

Out of all the books I have ever read in my life, this one is my favorite. The story is about a 23 something man called Raskolnikov living in Saint Petersburg. He is molded by poverty and is helpless by every single means. He has given up on life until he decides to take a notion of moral dilemma into his own hands by becoming a judge, jury, and executioner. Yes, executioner. He decides to kill someone who thinks he has no right to live in society but has to kill her half-sister as she sees him due to the fear of getting caught. This deed haunts him constantly, and we get an understanding of the fight in his mind between his ethics, morals, karma, confusion, paranoia, and disgustĀ for himself for the act he has committed.

Crime and punishment is not a story about a helpless young man. It’s a story about learning from mistakes and confronting them by facing them rather than running away. We all make mistakes, but the book preaches to stand up and accept fault than live a life of despair.

The book is about Raskolnikov exercising his freedom and creating his meaning and values, rather than accepting societal norms leading to his suffering because his conscience does not let him escape from the crime he has committed. And his freedom, both philosophically and literally, was what caused the catastrophe he found himself in. One of the essential observations is that Raskolnikov makes different excuses for why he did what he did (he needed the money, she was evil, etc.) just as hard determinists and utilitarians would argue considering his conditions in poverty. During his confessions, Raskolnikov reveals that he wanted to show that he could; his crimes were not rationalized as preconditioned, like a consequence of his suffering and poverty.

In the end, Raskolnikov has fallen in love with Sonya, a young shy, and innocent woman who had to turn to prostitution to support herself and her family. This shows that a person can commit the worst of crimes but is still capable of love. He is able to see past all her flaws, her thoughts, and decisions for choosing a life that she had to take by necessity and not by choice. He accepts her for who she is without judgment. The love entails for who she is underneath the skin and not for who she had to become out of need.

You do not need to have a background in psychology to comprehend the book, but it does teach you a lot about empathy, compassion, and human nature.