Cari Williams



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“The fall from grace is steep and swift, and when you land, it does not make a sound, because you are alone. ” Both Raskolnikov and Macbeth undoubtedly experience a fall from grace, they are parallel, anti heroic figures who initially consider themselves to be “extraordinary” human beings, entitled to transgressing moral law, and overstepping boundaries for the cause of a greater good, thus feeling justified in their intentions to commit murder.

However, neither are able to deal with the repercussions of their crime, tortured by guilt, fear, and self destruction. In truth, neither protagonists are “Napoleonic figures”, a stark realization that both protagonists eventually come to make, that ” the real Master to whom all is permitted” does not become so swallowed by guilt or fear, but holds their head high, because the ordinary laws/rules do not apply to them.

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Both Shakespeare and Dostoevsky explore the theme of human capacity for evil in their novels, and it is evident that despite the parallelism in their self misjudgment, Macbeth and Raskolnikov are very different: Macbeth is initially a noble, loyal servant to the king, but the prophecy made by the Weird sisters of his kingship convince him that it is his fate, and rightfully so, to become king. After much hesitation he murders King Duncan, yet guilt and paranoia overcome him absolutely, causing him to murder more innocent people.

However, his guilt does not lead to repentance, even after the suicide of his wife. instead, the assurance of the Witch’s’ prophecy make him defiant in his fight for the throne, even to the point of war. It is this defiance, this blind faith in the prophecy which eventually leads to Macbeth’s downfall. He is killed by Macduff, Thane of Fifes in a gruesome battle, finally defeated and punished for his crime. Top of Form Bottom of Form

Raskolnikov is equally arrogant, believing that his murder of Alyona Ivavnovitch is completely justified: killing an “ailing, horrid woman, not simply useless but doing actual mischief” (126, Dostoevsky), and with her money devoting himself ” to the service of humanity and the good of all” (126, Dostoevsky) is completely justified. However, once actually killing the old pawnbroker as well as her sister, Raskolnikov’s already bipolar tendencies augment to absolute insanity; he becomes delirious in his paranoia, convinced that a conspiracy is working against him, and always on the verge of confessing his secret.

Unlike Macbeth, who refuses to surrender, believing the throne is rightfully his because it has been predicted, Raskolnikov is unable to keep his secret; he is, despite committing murder, and despite his arrogance, not without a good heart. This is evident as he supports Marmeladova’s family after his death, and assists Marmeladov and others (such as the intoxicated girl) on many occasions when the need arises. Finally, he confesses to his crime, and assumes repentance, both to the law, and to providence. Fate and chance had a large part to play in the murders that Raskolnikov and Macbeth conduct.

On many instances, it was evident that Raskolnikov stumbles on information by chance. A prime example of this is when Raskonikov overhears Lizaveta mentioning her leaving the house the next day at seven. It was chance that Raskolnikov hears this as he himself exclaims that such a chance may not be present in the future. The significance of fate is further shown as the narrator mentions that “he [Raskolnikov] had no more freedom of thought, no will and that everything was suddenly and irrevocably decided,” (65, Dostoevsky).

Another event where fate and chance played an important role was the finding of the axe as a weapon. He fell asleep, and woke up with the timing being perfect; also he found a murder weapon relatively easily. Raskolnikov himself believes that it is his destiny to kill the pawnbroker. After he overhears a conversation about how beneficiary the death of the pawnbroker can possibly be he believes “there had really been in it something preordained, some guiding hint,” (69, Dostoevsky). Similarly, after the prophecy that was foretold by the Weird Sisters, Macbeth begins to habour the ambitions of becoming the future king.

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