When you write a literary analysis essay, you should focus on the following elements: tone, diction, syntax, author’s point of view, structure, imagery, and dramatic context of a selection. As you explore and analyze the prose below, make notes about the literary elements you notice and begin to consider how the author develops his theme.
The following is an excerpt from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Dostoevsky uses his story to explain how when a someone commits a crime, a guilty conscience and un-confessed sin causes more torment and anguish than the physical punishment or consequences for the crime. Tip: For enrichment, read the whole text of Crime and Punishment.
If he has a conscience he will suffer for his mistake. That will be his punishment–as well as the prison…
Siberia. On the banks of a broad solitary river stands a town, one of the administrative centers of Russia; in the town there is a prison. In the prison the second-class convict Rodion Raskolnikov has been confined for nine months. Almost a year and a half has passed since his crime. There had been little difficulty about his trial. The criminal adhered exactly, firmly, and clearly to his statement. He did not confuse nor misrepresent the facts, nor soften them in his own interest, nor omit the smallest detail. He explained every incident of the murder, the secret of the piece of wood with a strip of metal which was found in the murdered woman’s hand. He described how he had taken her keys, what they were like, as well as the chest and its contents; he explained the mystery of Lizaveta’s murder; described how Koch and, after him, the student knocked, and repeated all they had said to one another; how he afterwards had run downstairs and heard Nikolay and Dmitri shouting; how he had hidden in the empty flat and afterwards gone home…The sentence, however, was more merciful than could be expected, perhaps partly because the criminal had not tried to justify himself, but had rather shown a desire to exaggerate his guilt.
… In prison, how it happened, he did not know. But all at once something seemed to seize him and fling him at [Sonia’s] feet. He wept and threw his arms round her knees. They were both pale and thin; but those sick pale faces were bright with the dawn of a new future, of a full resurrection into a new life…Under his pillow lay the New Testament. He took it up mechanically. The book belonged to Sonia; it was the one from which she had read the raising of Lazarus to him…But that is the beginning of a new story–the story of the gradual renewal of a man, the story of his gradual regeneration, of his passing from one world into another, of his initiation into a new unknown life. That might be the subject of a new story…
You will write a literary analysis paper on the text presented in the last page (click here to see the text). In your paper, explore how the author conveys his rhetorical stance that when someone commits a crime, a guilty conscience and un-confessed sin cause more torment and anguish than physical punishment. You may include other references in addition to your comments on this excerpt. Be sure to analyze tone, metaphor, simile, diction, style, and most importantly, the core meaning of the selections.
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