A Murder\'s Journey Through works of Dostoyevsky and Poe


Some people believe that most murderers have a mental illness which causes them to commit their crime. This belief is strongly disagreed with by the authors Edgar Allan Poe and Fyodor Dostoevsky. Crime and Punishment, “The Tell-Tale Heart”, “The Black Cat”,and “The Cask of Amontillado” are very similar in this contradiction. Each murderer takes a specific journey that has been illustrated in each case. The psychological make-up of each murderer shows that he is a normal person up to the point at which something compels him to commit this horrible crime, and after that his conscience usually leads to his own downfall.
Before the murder has been committed the character is a regular human being. In most cases the characters that end up carrying through with this crime are above average people. Raskolnikov from Crime and Punishment is "... quite an extraordinarily handsome young man..." (Crime and Punishment, pg.21) Raskolnikov is a very gifted university student, with a very good talent for figuring people out. Raskolinikov takes great pride and care for his family. On receiving a letter from his mother

...he quickly raised the letter to his lips and kissed it; then he spent a long time poring over the handwriting on the envelope, over the small, slanting handwriting, so familiar and dear to him, of his mother who had once taught him to read and write. (Crime and Punishment, pg.47)

Raskolnikov\'s mother, who taught him how to read and write did this job quite well. This resulted in a very gifted and brilliant university student. This point is illustrated throughout the novel from the planning and carrying out of the murder, to interactions with the police.
The narrator from the short story "The Black Cat" describes his "tenderness of heart was even so conspicuous as to make me the jest of his companions." ("The Black Cat", pg.390) He is quite a regular human being who is "...especially fond of animals..." ("The Black Cat", pg.390) The narrator also has a great wife whom he describes as being quite similar to himself, which shows that he must be quite normal if a good woman chooses to marry him. Much alike is the narrator from the short story "The Tell-Tale Heart". Again this character is full of love. The victim of his crime had done no wrong and for that the narrator "...loved the old man." ("The Tell-Tale Heart", pg.384) The narrator shows the same brilliance in planning the crime that Raskolnikov exhibits. People with great intelligence, great lives, possessions and friends must be normal people. This seems to hold true in the short story "The Cask of Amontillado". The narrator is a man with great wealth. He has many friends which would signify that he is quite a normal character. He lives in a nice house with servants and fine wine. This all seems to show that his mind is intact, if he obtains and keeps these symbols of success. It seems as if each and every character discussed is quite a normal human being. In most cases the wealth, knowledge, or love of others is far above average than most other human beings.
The normal psychological make-up of a murderer has to
change before the crime is committed. Something must happen
in the character’s life that causes them to alter their
reasoning ability into something that maybe considered as
insanity. It is seen quite clear that the loving character
from "The Black Cat" "experienced a radical alteration for
the worse." ("The Black Cat", pg.391) The turning point in
his mind was explained by the narrator. "But my disease
grew upon me - for what disease is like Alcohol!"
("The Black Cat, pg.392) This problem with alcohol is
clearly the point at which the reasoning of the character
changes.
In Raskolnikov\'s case this change is also quite
clear. For an above average university student it would be
devastating to see education slip through his fingers
beyond control. "He was crushed by poverty, but even
straitened circumstances had ceased to worry him lately."
(Crime and Punishment, pg.19) The poverty causes
Raskolnikov to leave university. Upon leaving university he
is left alone with his thoughts. "At that moment he was
fully aware that his thoughts were at times confused and