The development of Rousseau and Raskolnikov in the novels \'Th

In every society, it is important for individuals to adhere to a set of principles in
order to maintain order. In Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment and Camus’ The
Outsider , however, both protagonists ignored the values of their society. Raskolnikov
and Meursault felt their own beliefs were significant, and through their actions they were
able to express them. As a result, one man was judged as a social deviant, while the other
man suffered psychologically. Through dealing with this strife, Raskolnikov and
Meursault gained a better understanding of their values and personal worth.
In the beginning both men rejected the fundamental values of society and formed
their own ideologies. Raskolnikov, for instance, believed that “we have to correct and
direct nature. But for that, there would never had been a single great man”1. In fact, he
had written an article titled “The psychology of a criminal before and after the crime”. It
stated that ‘ordinary’ men live according to the law and exist only to reproduce the
human race, yet ‘extraordinary’ men may break laws “if in his own conscience it is
necessary to do so in order to better mankind”2. Raskolnikov believed that indeed, he
was an “extraordinary man”3, but like Meursault, his beliefs were untested. As a result,
he murdered an old pawnbroker women in order to prove himself. Meursault, as well,
acted against the social norm. For example, even though it was expected of a son, he did
not show sorrow at his mother’s funeral4. He did not think this was shallow, however, he
just refused to falsely show emotion when he did not feel any; “I realized that I’d
managed to get through another Sunday, that mother was now buried, that I was going
back to work and that, after all, nothing had changed”5. In addition, Meursault felt that
“nothing really mattered”6. He was willing to be transferred to the Paris branch of his
office, but Algiers would do for him as well; he was willing to marry Marie, but he would
have married anyone else just as easily; and he was willing to write Raymond’s letter for
the simple reason that he “had no reason not to please him”7. This honest and nonchalant
way of looking at things was the basis of Meursault’s essence. He, and Raskolnikov, had
a general sense of who they were; based not on society’s principles but their own.
After they committed their crimes, Raskolnikov and Meursault were forced to
question their beliefs. Before the murder, Raskolnikov had a dream. In it, a mare was
beaten to death by it’s enraged master, while a boy tried to defend it8. Now after his guilt
“had begun already”9, Raskolnikov questioned whether he was the man who could “step
over barriers”10 without being punished or if he was the boy, filled with compassion and

I am contemptible and have nothing in me. If I had succeeded I should have been
crowned with glory, but now I’m trapped. I fail to understand why bombarding
people by regular siege is more honorable...I am further than ever from seeing
what I did as a crime11
Yet from this speech it is revealed that, though he now questioned the morality of his
felony, Raskolnikov could still not abandon his intellectual conviction. He was unable to
see the murders as a crime and felt that if he was guilty of anything, it was failing to
prove his theory. “And for that he was contemptible”12. In addition, Raskolnikov
examined his spiritual beliefs as well. When he stopped to look at a cathedral he attended
in university he “recalled sharply these former doubts and perplexities of his, and it
seemed to him not by chance that he remembered them now”13. At this moment, he
hurled away the coin just given to him “in Christ’s name”14. This incident symbolized
Raskolnikov’s initial rejection of God, an important moment in his spiritual struggle.
After Meursault murdered the Arab, however, he remained unchanged by immorality of
his crime. He felt no regret towards his actions, in fact he “felt kind of annoyance”15.
Also, he continued to state the truth;

Then he [the magistrate] asked me if he could say that I’d controlled my natural
feelings that day. I said ‘No, because it’s not true’. He looked at me in a peculiar
way as if he found me slightly disgusting.16
Likewise, during his trial when the prosecutor was emphasizing the fact that Meursault
was smoking at his mother’s wake, Meursault not only admitted it but stated; “I offered