Apathy in Crime and Punishment

One thing we see about Raskolnikov time and time again in the begging of the book, is his chronic lack of caring about anything.

That’s actually how the book starts:

a young man left the closet he rented from tenants… walked out to the street, and slowly, as if indecisively

Later in the book we see everything from Raskolnikov walking to strange places without caring, making bad life decisions because he didn’t care, and ruining other people’s lives because he didn’t care.

All of this changes very quickly and very much after the murder of the pawnbroker.

Suddenly, Raskolnikov cares about who hears what, and suddenly there are people around him more and more often.  We see this when he asks Razumihin what he said while asleep, and when he talks to Zaroff in the restaurant.  Everything about this formerly characteristically apathetic boy is turned upside down, as his every action becomes more articulate and deliberate, not to mention his intentions become more sinister.

We see this most when the walk into Porfiry’s house.  Raskolnikov normally walks around with his head down, thinking to himself.  This time, we see an entirely new side to him that is pretty scary.  He thinks about how he can make himself seem innocent in front of the investigator, and then teases Razumin to make Razumhim seem upset, while he walks in laughing and cheery.  This entire manipulation of the sitauation shows that, not only is Raskolnikov extremely intelligent, but he knows just how to push people’s buttons to get them to do what he wants.  He’s a manipulator.  We see him being a bit of a manipulator with Zaroff in the tea place, but it’s a bit different.  There, he is trying to hint to Zaroff that he is, in fact the killer.  The incident at Porfiry’s house is totally different.



Crime and Guilt (Crime and Punishment Part 2 Ch 1)

Hello All! The reading for today gave a little more insight into Raskolnikov, as well as shows a small taste of the aftermath of what he had done.

He sat down on the sofa—and instantly recollected everything! All at once, in one flash, he recollected everything.

For the first moment he thought he was going mad. A dreadful chill came over him; but the chill was from the fever that had begun long before in his sleep. Now he was suddenly taken with violent shivering, so that his teeth chattered and all his limbs were shaking. He opened the door and began listening—everything in the house was asleep. With amazement he gazed at himself and everything in the room around him, wondering how he could have come in the night before without fastening the door, and have flung himself on the sofa without undressing, without even taking his hat off. It had fallen off and was lying on the floor near his pillow.

Here we see that Raskolnikov begins to feel guilt for murdering his pawnbroker.

Raskolnikov isn’t a person who thinks deeply about himself, or others around him.  He generally just goes with the flow, and does whatever he feels like without worrying about any repercussions it could have for him or those around him.  Also, this murder is far more intense than anything he has done wrong… like ever.  So, not only is this his first time really feeling guilt, its a very intense guilt that he feels for the first time.

And he doesn’t know what to do with it.  He thinks he’s sick.  He thinks he has a fever.  He thinks he is going mad.  Without any way to obtain any sort of closure, and no experience with feeling guilt, he’s basically just waiting around for his punishment.

He was so absorbed with guilt about what he had just done, that he didn’t even lock the door behind him when he came in last night.  He doesn’t care about being caught at this point; He’s too busy worrying about feeling guilty and not knowing what to do.  For the first time in his life he needs to make a decision on his own and carefully evaluate the consequences that it could have.


About to Murderalize Someone (Crime and Punishment Part 1 Chapter 6)

Talk about intense!

This chapter of Crime and Punishment shows the events leading right up to Raskolnikov murdering his pawnbroker, and gives a little bit of backstory on the whole situation too.  While the whole chapter is suspenseful, the ending of it has everybody on the edge of their seats:

But his heart would not stop.  On the contrary, as though on purpose, it pounded harder, harder, harder… He could not stand it

He purposely stirred and muttered something aloud, so as not to make it seem he was hiding; then he rang for the third time, but quietly, seriously, and without any impatience.  Recalling it later, vividly, distinctly – for this moment was etched in him forever – he could not understand where he got so much cunning, especially since his reason seemed clouded at moments, and as for his body, he almost did not feel it on him… A second later came the sound of the latch being lifted.

Obviously, Dostoevsky wanted to build up as much suspense as possible before the actual murder, but how he does it is very interesting.

First, the reader has been building up suspense from when they first picked up the book: The inevitable conclusion that Raskolnikov is planning something fishy has been made by everyone after the first couple of pages.  The added suspense of this chapter really helps to bring all those feelings to a head.  The vivid description of Raskolnikov’s heart beating makes my heart pound too!

The impression made on the reader by the fact that this moment was “etched in him forever” is that it makes them more anxious, as they can easily anticipate what is to come, or at least that whatever it is, it will be very important.  Also, the fact that he suddenly became cunning, suddenly had the knowledge about what to do, makes it seem like he was taken over by something, as if his most wicked thoughts took control of his every action.

And then it ends with a stressful cliffhanger, “A second later came the sound of the latch being lifted.”  Not gonna lie I read ahead.  I just needed.  To know.  What happens next.


Greek Tragedies


We’re about to read Oedipus Rex, one of the most famous Greek Tragedies. 

Aristotle defined what makes a play a tragedy by its Tragic hero. According to Aristotle, the tragic hero either must make the audience pity him, or fear him. He believed that the fear would come from the fact that the same misfortunes that befall the tragic hero could easily befall on any of the audience memebers. 

Another important detail is that the downfall of the tragic hero cannot be because of his own vices or evil, but because of simply bad luck. This is another place where the pity comes into play, because the audience can think “oh poor thing, he didn’t deserve it.” That being said, a tragic hero isn’t perfect. They may have flaws that contribute to their downfall, but it isn’t on purpose or our of malice. 

Now, to put this into context of Oedipus Rex. In short, Oedipus kills his father without knowing who it is and unknowingly marries his mother. Just with this really short description ofthe story, you can see that Oedipus is a tragic hero. He didn’t knowingly or out of malice kill his father, he didn’t realize who it was. The same goes for unknowingly marrying his mother. It was just a bad turn of fate that leads to his downfall, and the audience is definitely able to pity him. 


The Beggining of the End (The Cherry Orchard Act 1)


Let’s start at the very beggining, a very good place to start! 

LOPAKHIN. The train’s arrived, thank God. What’s the time?

DUNYASHA. It will soon be two. [Blows out candle] It is light already.

LOPAKHIN. How much was the train late? Two hours at least. [Yawns and stretches himself] I have made a rotten mess of it! I came here on purpose to meet them at the station, and then overslept myself . . . in my chair. It’s a pity. I wish you’d wakened me.

DUNYASHA. I thought you’d gone away. [Listening] I think I hear them coming.
LOPAKHIN. [Listens] No. . . . They’ve got to collect their luggage and so on. . . . [Pause] Lubov Andreyevna has been living abroad for five years; I don’t know what she’ll be like now. . . . She’s a good sort–an easy, simple person. I remember when I was a boy of fifteen, my father, who is dead–he used to keep a shop in the village here–hit me on the face with his fist, and my nose bled. . . . We had gone into the yard together for something or other, and he was a little drunk. Lubov Andreyevna, as I remember her now, was still young, and very thin, and she took me to the washstand here in this very room, the nursery. She said, “Don’t cry, little man, it’ll be all right in time for your wedding.” [Pause] “Little man”. . . . My father was a peasant, it’s true, but here I am in a white waistcoat and yellow shoes . . . a pearl out of an oyster. I’m rich now, with lots of money, but just think about it and examine me, and you’ll find I’m still a peasant down to the marrow of my bones. [Turns over the pages of his book] Here I’ve been reading this book, but I understood nothing. I read and fell asleep. [Pause.]

Here is the first couple lines of the play. It takes place as everybody waits for Lubov to arrive. 

Obviously the beggining of any play, book or movie needs to have some exposition so the audience knows what’s going on. Sometimes though this is done more well than other times. I thought at first, that the way this play did it was a bit unnatural and forced. Looking back at it actually, it was done in a way that the characters could talk openly about their history and basically explain what’s going on in a way that, might seemed forced if it wasn’t for the context. Because we’re reading this play on paper, instead of seeing it performed, which is how we are supposed to be seeing the story, it’s easy to forget what’s going on, or to kinda get lost in the monologues. 

That’s what happened to me at first. When revisiting it, I realized how natural it flowed when you realize that they’re in the old manor, where they all grew up and are waiting for a childhood friend/relative, and reminiscing about their lives. It also was a bright way to have Lubov’s exposition given, while everyone waited for her and inevitably talked about her. 

This first scene also sets the tone for the rest of the play a bit. It’s all about people looking at the past and trying to hold on it, while having difficulty moving forward. It also gives reveals a bit about the characters that might come in handy later, for example, Lubov is simple and easygoing yet a good person, and Lopakhin hasn’t had an easy life, despite being super rich now. 


Murder Theatre (Hamlet Act III Scenes II-III)

Hello all!

So, a quick recap. Hamlet has just put on a play, that he calls “The Mouse Trap,” to try to see Claudius’ reaction to the way he killed his brother, King Hamlet.  Hamlet then asks his friend, Horatio, to stand watch to try to catch Claudius’ reaction or any other clues or expressions he might show. When the murder goes down on stage, Claudius rushes out of the room, which confirms Hamlets suspicions to himself: Claudius is guilty of King Hamlet’s murder. 

One reference that is interesting, is this one in Hamlet’s soliloquy at the end of the second scene:

O heart, lose not thy nature; let not ever 

The soul of Nero enter this firm bosom. 

Let me be cruel, not unnatural;

I will speak daggers to her, but use none. 

Nero is a roman emporer who, among other things, is infamous for killing his mother. Here, when Hamlet hopes that the soul of Nero will never enter his firm bosom, he means that he hopes he will never become so overcome with rage that he will hurt his mother in any way. This also refers back to Hamlet’s first meeting with the ghost of his father, who specifically said that no harm is to come to the queen. He does say that he will “speak daggers to her,” meaning that he will try to guilt trip her, which he does pretty effectively in the beginning of his play. His mothers guilt prompts her to make a comment and even summon him at the end of the scene.

The ending of the third scene is a little unfortunate for Hamlet also. He goes to kill Claudius, but seeing him praying stops. This is because he does not want Claudius to have the justification of prayer or the forgiveness of God when he dies. So Hamlet leaves. Right after this though, Claudius comments that his prayers were useless because he didn’t mean them, and feels no true guilt or repentance. Basically, Hamlet could’ve killed him right then and there but misunderstood the situation and didn’t. 

-Paulie 😉

Delight in Disorder? Sounds Like My Life (Delight in Disorder)


The poem we read this time was “Delight in Disorder” by Robert Herrick. Although this poem has some wonderful imagery, one thing that stood out to me first was the interesting structure of the poem. 

The poem begins with some wonderful imagery and then in the last two lines says:

Do more bewitch me, than when art

Is too precise in every part. 

To me, this poem really well illustrates a strange type of form that we have been encountering often in poetry lately that has been tripping us up a bit. What Herrick does here is use the entirety of the beginning of the poem, to be the subject of a sentence. So basically, the whole poem is one sentence, with the topic being the beginning, and then the last two lines concluding it. 

So, the fancy imagery bewitches the author, more than art because sometimes art is too perfect. That’s the meaning of the poem in a really brief way. 

This is sort of interesting, because an asymmetrical and disorderly style became very popular in art in the twentieth century, especially in the abstract expressionist movement. 

The author earlier in the poem describes each different thing in a couplet, generally first beginning with the thing and than what disorderly attribute of it he admires and why. For example, when it comes to the dress, he feels that it’s “sweet Disorder” brings about a “wantonness,” and in the careless shoe string he sees a “wild civility.”

I feel that, in addition to being an avant garde approach to art, this poem can also be a metaphor for life. In life, no matter what the time period, there are people who don’t quite fit societies mold. Although nowadays we are taught from an early ago to embrace diversity and take pride in our differences, this was not the case for most of human history. Often subject to public shaming or even physic abuse, people with any sort of a difference or even a different approach would be basically ostracized and tormented their entire life. 

I think in this poem about the beauty in things that other people would see as disorderly or wrong, Herrick is giving a metaphor for how it is important to see the beauty in things that other people see as ugly, to find the imperfections that bring us perfection; because only in our imperfections and differences can we reach our true individual potential, our own original perfection. I think the implied meaning to this poem is extremely important and changes the entire way it is perceived, from a nice cute poem about aesthetically pleasing things, to a commentary on society and a reassurance to everyone. 

Thank you for not giving us another poem about death. 

-Paulie 🙂