You had your pleasure from me in this world, and now you want to get your salvation through me in the world to come!
Maslova (Katusha) refuses to allow herself to become the means of Nekhludoff's spiritual redemption by marrying him. Although she is in prison, she has a strong sense of self and realizes his marriage proposal is a way of serving himself, not her. His seduction led her to a life of prostitution and murder, but he must carry the guilt for that by himself.
"That’s what it is," Nekhludoff went on in his thoughts. "If one acknowledges but for a single hour that anything can be more important than love for one’s fellowmen, even in some one exceptional case, any crime can be committed without a feeling of guilt."
The centrality of love—agape love, Christian charitable love—toward other humans is a central and repeated theme in the novel, so much so that it seems that Tolstoy is more concerned with communicating this philosophy than writing a fully realistic novel. Society cannot be reformed without humans experiencing genuine love toward one another.
If a psychological problem were set to find means of making men of our time—Christian, humane, simple, kind people—perform the most horrible crimes without feeling guilty, only one solution could be devised: to go on doing what is being done. It is only necessary that these people should he governors, inspectors, policemen; that they should be fully convinced that there is a kind of business, called government service, which allows men to treat other men as things, without human brotherly relations with them, and also that these people should be so linked together by this government service that the responsibility for the results of their actions should not fall on any one of them separately. Without these conditions, the terrible acts I witnessed to-day...
(The entire section contains 488 words.)
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- Critical Essays