The Law of the FatherWe've all seen Dostoevsky's infamous Law of the Father, the downward spiral into madness that leads the character from babyhood to father of the titular character. It's easy to get swept up in it and become enamored with the book. But there are even deeper themes at work in Crime and Punishment that don't easily lend themselves to a singular interpretation. Some of these are discussed below.
There is a certain irony in the fact that the father of the book is 'forgiven' for murder by his son, Dostoevsky writes in one scene. If you read this story, you'll see that in addition to the curse of knowing where he lives, he's also forgiven for the fact that he killed his wife. He's not even really an example of forgiveness. It's the victim that gets forgiven. The killer is kept in the afterlife as an evil spirit.
That doesn't mean that all is lost for the victims, though. They can choose to live on after death and get into 'paradise,' i.e.
One such effect of Dostoevsky's Law of the Father is the creation of a new group of priests. The figure of the priest is very similar to the role of the father in the Russian folk religion. In the Russian tradition, the person who serves God among the family is known as a catheter, or brother. He may hold another clerical title, such as a stony, which means son of the priest.
Even if the character isn't related to the patriarch in some way, the catheter shares the same responsibilities. He's expected to care for his community and to teach them, especially if they need to learn about a particular spiritual lesson. Unlike the kind of abuse that we often see in Catholic and Jewish communities, the abuse in Orthodox communities is far more consistent and, importantly, more established. This is because the religious commitment comes from the parents themselves.
A second theme is found in the whole process of the book. The catheter doesn't just do the job the father did -- it takes on more. In addition to being a chaplain, he has to plan funerals and weddings. He's supposed to be involved in marriages, as well.
It takes a lot of time and work, and the author's ability to evoke the spirit of Orthodoxy and the family system has been retained throughout the novel. It's apparent in the difference between the Catholic faith and other religions. The ancient way of life -- which is heavily inspired by Eastern traditions -- is seen through an authorial lens.
If you want to understand more about the true principles of life and death, then Dostoevsky's Law of the Father is an excellent book to read. And, if you're one of those people who has never read the book, and is looking for some recommendations, this is one book that you should consider. It's deep and multifaceted.