Blending Philosophy and Literature: A Study of Nihilism and Utilitarianism in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment

Osita Igwenagum Ijeoma Lena, Bryan J Udeh


From time immemorial, philosophy has always been incorporated in literature. Literature cannot be limited to just plot, themes, character, characterization, narrative techniques, etc. Literature can go beyond the aforementioned. Literature can celebrate certain philosophy; it can at the same time refute certain philosophy. That is to say that literature and philosophy work hand in hand. Literary works that incorporate philosophy create characters who work according to certain principle and philosophy. The reader is expected to decipher from the work, the philosophy that was portrayed, if the philosophy failed or succeeded.  Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky can be read beyond theme or plot. One is introduced to Raskolnikov who is completely unsentimental and mean. He cares nothing about the emotions of others, this makes him a Nihilist. He murders a corrupt Pawn broker and feels that it is beneficial to the world, which is Utilitarianism. Unfortunately at the end he suffers great emotional pains. If read beyond the lines it’s a condemnation of Nihilism and Utilitarianism. This reminds the reader that Nihilism is detrimental and can lead to suffering and chaos. The explored certain philosophical terms like Nihilism and Utilitarianism and identified the characters that portrayed these philosophies in their actions, speeches, interactions and reactions.

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