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In Crime and Punishment, why does Raskolnikov decide to visit Porfiry?

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rearea | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 16, 2011 at 2:18 PM via web

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In Crime and Punishment, why does Raskolnikov decide to visit Porfiry?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 16, 2011 at 8:08 PM (Answer #1)

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What is fascinating about this psychological study of a murderer and the way that he is haunted by his actions is the way that Raskolnikov deliberately flirts with confessing and danger, choosing to create excuses to visit Porfiry rather than avoid him. In Part III Chapter 4, for example, he says to his friend Razumikhin that he had pawned a watch among other belongings to the deceased woman, and thus creates an excuse to go back to Porfiry to ask about whether he can have his possessions back. Even though he is poor and needs the money, we could argue that his desire to go to Porfiry's house is actually representative of his desire to confess, as the following quote suggests:

"I shall have to pull a long face with him too," he thought, with a beating heart, and he turned white, "and do it naturally, too. But the most natural thing would be to do nothing at all. Carefully do nothing at all! No, /carefully/ would not be natural again. . . . Oh, well, we shall see how it turns out. . . . We shall see . . . directly. Is it a good thing to go or not? The butterfly flies to the light. My heart is beating, that's what's bad!"

The way in which Raskolnikov explicitly compares himself to a butterfly being drawn towards the light suggests that he is, in one sense, desiring a chance to be discovered and to confess his crime, and this we could argue is his real reason for visiting Porfiry.

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