revistas electrónicas de la Universidad de Granada

"Crime and Punishment" Rereading and Rewriting Plato’s "Gorgias"

Nickolas Pappas


The main characters in Crime and Punishment refer back to Plato’s dialogue Gorgias. Marmeladov is called an “orator” and calls Gorgias to mind, while Raskolnikov is a critic of morality resembling Callicles and calling for a new “natural” ethics as Callicles did. Meanwhile the two roles of philosophy joined together in the person of Socrates are taken separately by Porfiry (philosophy enforcing morality) and Sonia (wisdom capable of healing souls). But Crime and Punishment turns what had been Platonic discourse into practice. The two Lazarus figures in the Gospels, both of whom are alluded to in the novel, exemplify the two statuses story-character and real person. Callicles represents one, Raskolnikov the other. Raskolnikov executes the morality that Callicles only theorizes. Accordingly he needs a therapy beyond the powers of Socratic philosophy, that comes in the form of Sonia. All of this is one way to understand the novel’s function as Christian fiction.

Palabras clave

Dostoevsky, Plato, Gorgias, Socrates, fiction

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ISSN: 1579-8372 | eISSN: 2255-517X