Psychology And Porfiy In Dostoyevsky S Crime And Punishment
Porfiry in Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment has such an intellectual way of investigating Raskolnikov and his motives. Dostoyevsky creates a character with a small role, yet such an outstanding impact that he can be thought of as the antagonist of this novel. His methods can be defined as different and leave a permanent stain on Raskolnikov as a character. Although psychology was in effect long before Porfiry steps foot onto the scene.
Raskolnikov wonders why so many crimes are committed so poorly. He concludes that criminals go through a failure of the will. He endeavors not to let anything prevent him from carrying out the crime in complete control of his reason and will, which is a huge sign that his psychological and intellectual mind are working together, instead of battling like most people’s.
However, both reason, and will fail him during some parts of the murder. He does have the good sense to clean his axe and boots, but he leaves the door open as a sign that he isn’t thinking clearly. The mistake catches up to him as lizaveta enters the room.
Also we find that his illness is more psychological than physical. It is just the way his reaction to the murder is. He struggles with humiliation. His illness is the result of his wounded pride.
Porfiry’s reasons for most of his methods he used was he saw the intellectual potential in Raskolnikov and wanted him to see that in himself. In the beginning of the book, Raskolnikov views himself as sort of a “Superman,” or above the moral rules of society or above what is socially acceptable. This viewpoint compels if not encourages him to separate from society or the established Russian social order. The murder itself might be attributed to his mentality that he is above everything. He also has little emotions and sentiment for others. He doesn’t care about people around him. We can see that when he tries to help the girl in the beginning from the lustful eyes of a gentleman. Although after a while, he changes his mind and tells the officer he pays to leave her alone.
Porfiry knows his potential and perhaps sees something in Raskolnikov that he doesn’t see in himself. Through the entire novel Raskolnikov’s only worry is getting caught. His paranoia takes over his life so he can no longer live normally.
Porfiry has many methods he uses to not necessarily get Raskolnikov to confess, but to change something in him. “Flattery” is one of these methods. He compliments not only Raskolnikov’s ideas but things as simple as the things he’s written. “I thought, too, of your article in that journal, do you remember, on your first visit we talked of it? I jeered at you at the time, but that was only to lead you on.” (pg. 527) this isn’t necessarily out of sincerity as much as it was another angle at pulling something out of Raskolnikov.
He (Porfiry) is by far one of the most outstanding characters in the entire book and the psychological methods of interrogation are a huge portion of the plot as a whole. Due to the fact that the main point of the story is Raskolnikov’s breakdown and his dealing with the overbearing encumbrance of his crime, the methods Porfiry uses does an exceptional job at changing the plot and the story for us. Without Porfiry as a character, our novel wouldn’t have been the same.
Porfiry, though insanely clever, seems to let on that he knows more then he actually does. Constantly regarding Raskolnikov as an adversary and talking to him as though he knows he is guilty, I don’t think he knew Raskolnikov was guilty as much as he knew that there was something Raskolnikov was hiding that was probably vital in his case.
Raskolnikov and Porfiry have interesting conversation in which they both verbally battle it out and come as close as they can with words to drawing swords and stabbing one another. Porfiry asks Raskolnikov if he believes in the New Jerusalem and God, and even Lazarus. He continues to ask how you can tell an extraordinary person from an ordinary. Raskolnikov replies that it is simple, because anyone who acts like they are extraordinary and isn’t, punish themselves.
“In the war of nerves, the criminal will always lose, always betray himself.” Porfiry says, “Because he is psychologically unable to resist incriminating himself.” Although Raskolnikov somehow resists the games that Porfiry is playing with him. He wants to beat Porfiry at his own games by keeping quiet and holding in his emotions. He decides to resist, which encourages Porfiry often to monologue. Although this mindless chatter isn’t pointless and everything he says seems to be a trap. Finally, Raskolnikov tells Porfiry that he cannot handle the torment and states that he knows he is suspected and demands that Porfiry arrest him if he has any evidence that could cause incrimination.
Raskolnikov’s confession also is more psychological than physical. He struggles internally with the decision of confession. When he finally goes to confess, he runs into the assistant superintendent, who forgets his name. Which is vital because it means that Raskolnikov is no longer being considered as a suspect, or the superintendent would know his name very well? (Raskolnikov’s Confession – Gerald Fiderer.)
Raskolnikov changes psychologically. He realizes that he is capable of love and sentiment, which is an enormous breakthrough in his relationship with Sonia. It also has to do mainly with Porfiry, and his methods of speaking with Raskolnikov. He could have arrested Raskolnikov immediately; he could have taken him away and probably convicted him. Instead, he made Raskolnikov crumble under the guilt of his crime. Porfiry seems to so adequately understand Raskolnikov, that he is somehow able to almost single handedly, cause Raskolnikov to have an epiphany.
Although his methods seem unorthodox, Porfiry, through understanding and wisdom, create something in Raskolnikov that very well might not have been there before. Emotions are put in a character we see as static throughout the entire novel. Without that part of this story, we would not have the ending we had. Dostoyevsky doesn’t focus much on Raskolnikov’s imprisonment, which seems to indicate that he interprets the “punishment” for Raskolnikov’s crime to be the psychological battle he fights with himself.