Sunday, December 12, 2010

Crime and Punishment

The Question: What does it mean to be an outsider or insider and how does it affect our personalities?

Who isn't an outsider in this novel? It seems as if none of the characters ever know who they are. They live tragic lives that are constantly changing. The main focus should be on Raskolnikov. He comes into the story a very troubled man, he doesn't even have clear thoughts. There was always some big plan being alluded to. His thoughts drive him to kill and old pawn broker and her sister. But why? What drove him to this? There is an essay that he wrote that places into two classes of people. Those that follow blindly and then the extraordinary men. They are like the Napoleon's of the world. They are above the law. Raskolnikov wants to really test himself to know which man he really is. These ideas of grandeur and being an extraordinary himself secluded him from everyone else. They pushed him out of school, away from work, from friends and even from his family.

After the murder, he realizes he isn't an extraordinary man. He drives himself to near insanity and into a delirious sickness. His guilt weighs on him. Even his best friend Razumikhin doesn't recognize who he has become. Thankfully he takes care of him during his illness. No one ever realized what he had done from the beginning. The guilt drove him deeper still into his mind. He could only focus on one thing, the murder.

Even when his sister and mother come to visit him, he cannot come out of his own mind the be the brother and son that they had once known. He was alien to them now. His odd behavior shocked them. Pushing them away, he acts as if he never wants to see them and only gets upset with them when they try to help him. At this point he starts becoming more and more paranoid. He thinks everyone is out to get him and it is some what true. People are starting to put his crime together, people like Porfiry.

Even though he feels so disconnected from the society around him, he can still find enough connection to help others. He gives all his money to the widow of a drunken man he met in the bar after he was run over by a carriage. He also had saved two children from a burning apartment prior to that. That is the glimmer of hope for his redemption. Eventually his luck runs out when it comes to his murder.

The authorities are starting to notice his odd behaviors and are piecing together the crime. Raskolnikov realizes it would be easier just to give himself up and stop the torture he has inflicted on himself. He ends up going to a work camp in Siberia and finds what it means to actually be a part of society. Because he comes to terms with being just ordinary when for so long he had believed he was something more than that. He morphs from being a tortured outsider to being like all the rest that blindly follow society, but at least he's an insider. Right?

Henry IV Part I

The Question: What does it mean to be an outsider or insider and how does it affect our personalities?

In this Shakespearean play, Hal is the obvious outsider. He cannot seem to do anything right in his father's eyes. The apathetic attitude that he seems to have towards the throne most likely stems from his feelings towards his father. King Henry more than likely pushed Hal away all of his life leading to his poor decision making. We see some of that in the play through Henry's monologue about Hotspur. He wished his son could have been more like the enemy to the crown which was a slap in the face to Hal. The pub crawling gang that Hal hangs out with only worsens his alienation from the royal court.

However, he ends up doing the right thing in the end. He changes from being an outsider to becoming an insider through saving his father's life. To redeem himself from his former shame, he resolves to kill Hotspur. When there is an attempt on his father's life, he and Hotspur end up battling to the death. Hal doesn't really end up taking credit for his deeds in the end though. His friend Falstaff swoops in and steals Hal's glory. But it doesn't really matter to him. He has grown enough as a character to not need validation outside of himself. He knew that he had done the right thing and that's all that mattered.