"But if such a one is forced for the sake of his idea to step over a corpse or wade through blood, he can, I maintain, find himself, in his conscience, a sanction for wading through blood- With these words, Dostoevsky, author of Crime and Punishment, gives the reader a clear look at the type of ideas which fill the mind of his main character. Raskolnikov, the protagonist, sums up his overtaking beliefs in this quote that he derives from Nietzsche's philosophy. Dostoevsky develops Raskolnikov as being completely engulfed by a theory which believes that "the rearing of a human species higher and stronger than that which surrounds us, even if this could only be achieved by the sacrifice of masses of such men as we know, would be a great, a real progress." Raskolniknov believes he is part of this superior race and his feelings of supremacy isolate him from others in society, even his family. Raskolnikov is an individual alienated from society who justifies his vain actions by a superhuman theory.
Through background information, the author explains to his audience that Raskolnikov is a student at the university in St. Petersburg but drops out because he becomes mentally overwhelmed by his contemplations of murder. Through use of an article Raskolnikov writes in the newspaper, the antagonist of the story becomes aware of Raskolnikov's justifications. Dostoevsky uses an argument between protagonist and antagonist to unveil Raskolnikov's philosophy. In this altercation, Raskolnikov says, " Solon, Mahomet, Napoleon, and so on these benefactors and leaders of humanity were guilty of terrible carnage. I maintain that all great men or even men a little out of the common, capable of giving a new word, must from their very nature be criminals." With these thoughts, Dostoevsky reveals Raskolnikov's true preoccupations with Nietzsche's philosophy. He develops the argument further to include the impact of the philosophy on Raskolnikov's self image.