A Comparison of Macbeth and Crime and Punishment

When considering great works of literature, it is often interesting to compare and contrast the authors’ styles and themes. In the case of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, there are a number of similarities and differences that can be examined.

Both authors were masters of their craft, and both wrote about crimes and punishment in their respective works. However, the way in which they approached these topics differed significantly. Dostoevsky took a more philosophical approach in his novel, exploring the idea of morality and redemption, while Shakespeare’s play was more focused on the psychological effects of crime.

There are also differences in the way that the two works were structured. Crime and Punishment was divided into six parts, while Macbeth was a five-act play. Each work also had a different number of scenes – Crime and Punishment had fifty-nine, while Macbeth had only seven.

Despite these differences, there are also a number of similarities between the two works. Both authors used literary devices such as foreshadowing and symbolism to enhance their stories. In addition, both works explored the idea of ambition and its consequences.

Macbeth and Crime and Punishment, by William Shakespeare and Fyodor Dostoevsky, examine man’s psychological depths. Many philosophers have written about tragedy as represented in the existential ideas of these two works. The notion that man can fulfill his own needs regardless of cultural norms if he has the energy and ambition to act is presented in existentialist thinking. Macbeth and Raskolnikov both desire to act, but each fights within himself over what they are doing, concerned with the consequences.

In this way, each character becomes a victim of their own fears and desires. Macbeth is a successful general in King Duncan’s Scottish army. He is content with his life until he meets the three witches. The witches tell him that he will become king, but they do not say how.

Macbeth starts to believe that he is destined to be king and starts to act on his ambition. He murders Duncan and takes the throne for himself. However, Macbeth is plagued with guilt and paranoia from his actions. His mental state deteriorates throughout the play as he tries to cover up his crimes. In the end, Macbeth is overthrown by an uprising led by Malcolm, Duncan’s son.

Raskolnikov is a poor student in St. Petersburg. He, too, is struggling with his place in the world. Raskolnikov has an nihilistic view of society and believes that it is every man for himself. He believes that if one is strong enough, they can do whatever they want and are above the law. To prove his theory, Raskolnikov murders an old woman, Alyona Ivanovna.

Raskolnikov feels guilty after committing the crime and confesses to Porfiry, a police investigator. However, he is not remorseful for his actions and believes that he is justified in his murder. In the end, Raskolnikov surrenders to the police and is sent to prison.

Both Macbeth and Raskolnikov are driven by ambition and a desire to change their station in life. They both believe that they are above the law and can do whatever they want. However, their actions are driven by fear and guilt. In the end, both characters are undone by their own crimes.

The fact that each character suffers from a driving force is clearly demonstrated in these pieces. The idea of a driving force within each protagonist persists throughout the works of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, which deal with similar aspects of existential philosophy. The existential precept is obvious in these books. 

In Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Raskolnikov commits a crime in order to prove a point, while William Shakespeare’s Macbeth murders Duncan in order to gain power. In each story, the idea of a driving force is evident. For Raskolnikov, it is his need to prove a point, while for Macbeth it is his desire for power.

Existentialism is a philosophical movement that emphasizes individual freedom and choice, and the inherent meaninglessness of life. Existentialists believe that humans must create their own meaning in life, as there is no inherent meaning in the universe. This philosophy is evident in both Macbeth and Crime and Punishment.

In Macbeth, the titular character makes a series of choices that lead to his downfall. He chooses to murder Duncan, which leads to his own downfall and eventual death. In Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov also makes a series of choices that lead to his downfall. He chooses to kill the pawnbroker, which leads to his arrest and imprisonment.

Both Macbeth and Raskolnikov are driven by a force greater than themselves. For Macbeth, it is his ambition for power. For Raskolnikov, it is his need to prove a point. This driving force leads them both to make choices that have tragic consequences. In each story, the main character must grapple with the morality of their choices, and ultimately face the consequences of their actions.

The themes of existentialism vary, but one common theme is that man satisfies himself by acting on his desires. Human existence is marred by ignorance and vacuity, generating anxiety, awe, and despair (Moore & Bruder 503). Man’s need to decide how he will live in this absurd and illogical world is the most prominent fact about human life (Moore & Bruder 504). Macbeth makes use of several existentialist ideas.

Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment is another novel that explores the idea of existentialism, albeit from a different angle. In this paper, I will compare and contrast how Fyodor Dostoevsky and William Shakespeare employ existentialist themes in their works.

Fyodor Dostoevsky was interested in the philosophical movement of nihilism, which is closely related to existentialism (Moore & Bruder 504). Nihilism “rejects all religious and moral principles, often in an extreme way” (Nietzsche 1). It is the belief that nothing has meaning or purpose. Fyodor Dostoevsky’s workCrime and Punishmentis a great example of how he explored the philosophical idea of nihilism. The main character, Raskolnikov, believes that since he is “extraordinary,” he is above the law and can do whatever he pleases (Dostoevsky 36).

This belief eventually leads him to commit murder. However, Raskolnikov soon realizes that his actions were wrong and that there are consequences for his actions. This realization leads him to existential angst, which is a feeling of anxiety or dread that comes from realizing the true nature of human existence (Moore & Bruder 504).

William Shakespeare’s Macbeth is another work that employs existentialist themes. In this play, Macbeth becomes obsessed with power and kills anyone who gets in his way. Eventually, Macbeth’s actions catch up to him and he is overthrown by those he once oppressed. Like Raskolnikov, Macbeth experiences existential angst when he realizes the true nature of his actions. In both works, the characters experience a loss of self-awareness that leads to their downfall.

Existentialism is a philosophical movement that explores the human condition. Fyodor Dostoevsky and William Shakespeare are two authors who employ this concept in their works. In Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky explores the idea of nihilism and how it can lead to existential angst. In Macbeth, William Shakespeare examines how obsession can lead to a loss of self-awareness.

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