May 3, 2022•399 words
I'm pretty close to finishing the book; I am now in chapter 7 of part 6. After reading the last chapter, I got the idea that Crime and Punishment is a criticism and reaction to Nietzsche's ideas and more generally the idea of a more fluid/liberal/progressive society. The whole dynamic of Rodya to his family really presents itself as a representation of the progressive society in which traditional nuclear family ties are broken. Instead, the value of family is just for development, and we see this paralleled in by Dostoevsky by the monetary and moral support from Rodya's family to Rodya. This idea is also emphasized by how permissive Rodya's mom is. A big idea of liberalism is the power of the individual, and Rodya's freedom granted by his mother gives him more individual power. However, in chapter 7 part 6 we see this behavior not really work out well for her as it caused her a lot of anxiety. Rodya's haunted conscious of the suffering he causes his family is a theme throughout the book, and it serves as a criticism of a fluid society as the non-traditional family caused everyone participating great angst. I think that this is a valid criticism of liberalism, but it assumes that happiness is valuable. The idea of Übermensch is also very criticizes throughout the book. Rodion essentially represents the philosophy of Übermensch, and his failure and depression at his failure further emphasizes the unhappiness caused by these new liberal/individualistic ideas. In fact, the powerlessness of Rodya throughout the book also serves as a remark against individualism as it brings forward the idea that we don't truly have free-will. Once again this argument relies on happiness being valuable. Also, we see a criticism of the liberal idea of gender inequality in Svidrigaïlov. I think that upon a first read, with a Western cultural mindset, Svidrigaïlov is a very complex character in trying to understand his actions. It seems as though he tries to balance good and bad behavior. However, if we instead take a sexist and more traditional point of view, the failings of Svidrigaïlov seem to dissolve. The flattery, sexism, and money are all typically things of people in traditional aristocratic systems. Thus by assuming a conservative viewpoint his kind deeds (especially near the end of his life) are very emphasized.
TLDR: Crime and Punishment is a criticism of liberal/progressive philosophies.