The Problem of Positive and Destructive Freedom: The Interpretation of the Arkady Svidrigailov Image

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This article examines the problem of the relationship between freedom and self-will on the example of one of the heroes of Dostoevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment . Attention is focused not only on the canonical text of the novel, but also on the preparatory materials for it. The task is to identify the connection between the above named problem and the suicide problem of Arkady Ivanovich Svidrigailov. The thesis is put forward that for Dostoevsky’s heroes, self-will often becomes a fetter for their own nature and their own passions. With the help of debauchery, Svidrigailov tries to assert himself, giving his soul to the mercy of willfulness. There is a certain pattern in the fact that such a worldview logical chain ends with the tragic act of suicide. Arkady Ivanovich adores comfort, and therefore, in accordance with his own logic, his murder by Dunya, which did not happen, can be considered, among other things, as an attempt of a comfortable method of suicide. In the preparatory materials for the novel, Svidrigailov protests against cowardly meanness and puts suicide above such a humiliating state, although he understands the entire flaw in such a situation. For all the complexities the problem of freedom and self-will - one of the leitmotifs of religious and philosophical themes in the writer’s work - Dostoevsky does not see its formal, external solution.

About the authors

Cheslav A. Gorbachevsky

South Ural State University

Author for correspondence.
ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9145-7721

Candidate of Philology, Associate Professor at the Department of Russian Language and Literature

76 Lenina St, Chelyabinsk, 454080, Russian Federation


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