“Split” Mind: Doppelgänger Motif

Doppelgänger-noun (motif)

  • German word (double walker double goer)
    • significance secular identical double of an character
    • A character has another character that looks like the character themselves
    • A character with a split personality (not a literary device)
    • Eerie resembling and strange similarities


 How can Raskolnikov be considered a “split” character and what is Dostoevksy’s purpose in “splitting” him?

  • Financial state (he doesn’t have much money, but oddly gives his possession and money to others around him)
  • Mentally conflicted (wants to be found as the murderer, but doesn’t want to deal with the consequences)
  • How people are able to be in the both extremes of sanity (murderer or altruism)


Does Raskolnokon’s schism serve as a prototype for other conflicted characters? If so, who?


Characterization of Raskolnikov:

  • Protagonist and insights the actions that follow throughout the novel
  • Physical attributes:
  • “Strikingly handsome, dark eyes, dark brown hair above average in height…” (Dostoevsky 2).
  • The novel shows this depiction of a favored man of society pandered by all the weaknesses is in his mind to show the falsities of societal altruism, furthermore, wanting the reader to be lolled in the trappings of the physicality.
  • For example: National news a young girl killed 22 people and later was sentenced to life in jail
  • Jeffery Donner and Ted Bundy (Examples) of such individuals
  • Look at the following article for more examples of the Doppelgänger Motif within the common to important figures within history: The Doppelganger Effect: Second Selves and Ghostly Doubles | PARALLAX JOURNAL

Dostoevsky presents the virtue of how an individual may look ordinary, however could be a monster deep within.

  • Readers are supposed to see themselves within Raskolnikov representing every man

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