Fyodor Dostoevsky’s central characters are marked by a significance of “spiritual and mental self-division and self-contradiction,” wherein the offender turns out to be an prototype of a curiously modern psychological condition of alienation and self-destruction. American literary critic and essayist Philip Rahv wrote,
Dostoevsky is the first novelist to have fully accepted and dramatized the principle of uncertainty or indeterminacy in the presentation of character. In terms of novelistic technique this principle manifests itself as a kind of hyperbolic suspense-suspense no longer generated merely by the traditional means and devices of fiction, though these are skillfully brought into play, but as it were by the very structure of human reality. To take this hyperbolic suspense as a literary invention pure and simple is to fail in comprehending it; it originates rather in Dostoevsky’s acute awareness (self-awareness at bottom) of the problematic nature of the modern personality and of its tortuous efforts to stem the disintegration threatening it.