His ideas of the ‘superman’ figure were likely prevalent preceding Dostoevsky’s novel, and were still the basis behind Raskolnikov’s argument, but his ideas on the subject were actually not published until one year after the publication of Crime and Punishment A contrast to de Sade’s relationship between de Sade and Dostoevsky, Raskolnikov shares several similarities with Nietzsche.
They are both nihilists for example. They share a “will of power” as the driving force for their morals. The idea of the ‘superman’ correlates to the element of Christianity within Crime and Punishment. Nietzsche says that the moral system implemented within Christianity is based on self-deception, and therefore leads to guilt, a struggle visibly paralleled by Raskolnikov. This struggle in religion, between Raskolnikov and Sonya, often occurs in the novel. The symbol of redemption, the cypress cross, is symbolic of this struggle.
Karl Marx nineteenth century German philosopher A final prominent influence on Dostoevsky’s work is through Karl Marx. Marxist ideas that occur in C & P are mainly Utilitarianism. In Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky presents a situation in which utilitarianistic, ideal goals, set by Raskolnikov as the idea that the world could do without the old woman, when employed, have unwanted results when pushed to the extreme, namely when Rodion kills the old woman.
For most characters, the utilitarianistic idea is the character’s downfall When Raskolnikov confesses his crime to Sonya, she cries, “What have you done- what have you done to yourself?” His response is clear, “Did I murder the old woman? I murdered myself, not her!” Raskolnikov’s previous resolve to kill the old woman because of the societal benefits backfires when he gives up his Ubermensch idea.
Utilitarianism for Svidrigailov ends up turning into nihilism. Even though his motives from the get go are mostly self-interest, he still shows ideas of utilitarianism through his neutral morality, that good and evil are separate, and that all his actions are based on benefit of some kind, that is until he kills himself, although you could probably argue that That was also beneficial. Sonya- where suicide is an option presented to Raskolnikov as he looks into the river, Sonya represents the path to salvation. Utilitarianism shows itself through her character, because she gives her physical body up for money for her family, which is quite the sacrifice.