In 1866, an absurdist novel called Crime and Punishment was published by the author Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Since the author belonged to Russia, this novel was first published in a journal called The Russian Messenger in 12 installments. The novel was inspired by his exile from his homeland to Siberia. He was exiled for ten years and experienced life in its most depressive condition. The novel is considered one of the author’s mature novels in terms of plot, structure and thematic context.
The novel revolves around the protagonist named Rodion Raskolnikov who experiences existential angst and dilemmas of morality. His dilemma is about killing or not killing a pawnbroker.
According to him, the pawnbroker can be killed and her money can be used for good deeds. These deeds can create an impact on the overall society. Therefore, he is stuck between the decision of killing her or not. Killing her would itself be an immoral act however, it would result in a societal benefit. Comparing himself to Napoleon Bonaparte, he finally justifies himself for murder. According to him, murder is permissible for those who have a higher purpose to achieve in life. Through killing the pawnbroker itself is a huge crime, his intention behind it is indeed virtuous.
What is interesting to note is the irony in his stance. While he believes he can bring justice and crime counterbalance in the world, he commits murder for doing so. His existential angst and his absurdist motive seem questionable and remarkable at the same time. Experiencing murder and then justifying it is commendably expressed in the novel. The novel has a grasp on thematic techniques and imagery. The readers are able to imagine and feel whatever the protagonist feels. To some extent, the readers are able to justify his murder till the end.