Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime And Punishment
Length: 1318 words (3.8 double-spaced pages)
Section 1: Significance of Title
The title Crime and Punishment is significant in the fact that Raskolnikov the main character commits and crime and faces punishment. This punishment is not just going to prison but psychological punishment too. His action haunts him the whole story. He does eventually go to jail though. This book shows that if someone commit’s a crime they will face punishment of some kind.
Section 2: Author
The author Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote his book Crime and Punishment from life experiences. He for example spent some a long time in prison for being part of a socialist party. He changed his views later on and it shows in some of his other characters. Dostoevsky was very poor and suffered from epilepsy. His main character Raskolnikov is suffers a lot like Dostoevsky did.
Section 3: Setting
The setting of the book is St. Petersburg Russia in the 1860’s. This also happens to be the time it was written. The book does have many true things of the time period in it too though. Many of the problems and ideas in the book are real and Dostoevsky took them from his personal experiences and beliefs.
Section 4: Plot
Raskolnikov, a former student who is very poor and sickly, is planning a crime. He goes by an old woman’s house to pawn a watch and stops at a bar afterwards meeting Marmeladov. Marmeladov is a drunk who has been on a five day drinking spree and has given up his job. He tells Raskolnikov of his family and takes him to his house where Raskolnikov is quickly told to leave.
The next day Raskolnikov gets a letter from his mother telling him that his sister is to be married to a rich man soon and they are coming to St. Petersburg. While in a local tavern he overhears some people talking about how the world would be better off without the old pawnbroker Aloyna Ivanova and later in the streets he hears she will be alone next evening. That night he doesn’t sleep well and next day he finds and axe and gets a fake item to pawn to her. Raskolnikov then goes to her apartment and kills her. While rummaging for money Lizaveta, the old woman’s sister, comes in and he kills her too. Raskolnikov then barely escapes with some luck. Next morning he franticly searches his clothes for traces of blood.
He also receives a police summons but not to due with the murder, his landlady is trying to get him to pay his debts. He visit’s his friend Razumikhin and soon falls very ill and wakes up several days later under the care of Razumikhin, Nastasya, and doctor Zossimov. A police detective Zamyotov has been visiting him also.
Rasklonikov later goes out and on his way home discovers Marmeladov has been run over by a carriage and he leads police to Marmeladov’s house and they lay him on the sofa and Raskolnikov gives his family the money he received from his mom for the funeral. He gets home and faints when he discovers his mom and sister waiting on him. Becoming annoyed he orders them out of his room. Meanwhile Razumikhin begins to fall in love with Raskolnikov’s sister, Dunya. Raskolnikov goes to the old woman’s apartment saying he is getting a watch and there the porter tries to trick him into confessing.
He wakes up that night to a stranger in his room and is offered money to break up Dunya and Luzhin but he doesn’t accept. Razumikhin and Sonya both find out Raskolnikov committed the murders. Sonya convinces Raskolnikov to confess.
At the end Razumikhin and Dunya marry and Raskolnikov is sent to a prison in Siberia. Sonya moves just outside and often visits him. He realizes he loves her.
Section 5: Point of View
The story is told from a third person perspective. I prefer a third person view. A first person story seems to often have biased opinion. The main character sees things differently than other characters may. This does add a bit of spark to some stories I guess but generally I prefer a story without it.
Section 6: Characterization
Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov- The protagonist of the novel. He is a former student and lives in a small room in an apartment building. He is ill throughout the novel and suffers from a conflict of whether to kill an old woman or not to and then what to do after he does.
Sofya Semyonovna Marmeladov- She is Marmeladov’s daughter and Raskolnikov falls in love with her. Sonya was forced to become a prostitute to support her family. She is easy to embarrass but has strong faith.
Avdotya Romanovna Raskolnikov- She is Raskolnikov’s sister and very smart and proud. She is brave too and marries Raskolnikov’s friend at the end.
Arkady Ivanovich Svidrigailov- Dunya’s former employer. He tried to make Dunya love him. After the death of his wife, Marfa Pertrovna, he became very generous.
Dmitri Prokofych Razumikhin- A poor ex-student and Raskolnikov’s only real friend. He is very kind and helps out Raskolnikov a lot. He marries Dunya at the end.
Katerina Ivanovna Marmeladov- The wife of Marmeladov, she is a sickly woman but very proud.
Porfiry Petrovich- The primary antagonist, he investigates crimes and understands criminal psychology well.
Semyon Zakharovich Marmeladov- A public official and major alcoholic. He meets Raskolnikov at a tavern and tells him of his family and troubles. He later is hit by a carriage and dies.
Pulcheria Alexandrovna Raskolnikov- Raskolnikov’s mother and a very devoted mother. She would do anything to see that her son was successful.
Pyotr Petrovich Luzhin- Dunya’s fiancé. He wants to marry a beautiful and smart girl but she must also be poor like Dunya so she will be in debt to him.
Andrei Semyonovich Lebezyatnikov- Roommate of Luzhin, he is young and convinced of the righteousness of the “new philosophies” like nihilism. He does not get along with Luzhin well.
Alyona Ivanovna- An old pawnbroker who is killed by Raskolnikov. He believed she cheated people of their money.
Lizaveta Ivanovna- Alyona Ivanovna’s sister, she is very simple minded and pretty much does nothing but serve her sister.
Zossimov- Raskolnikov’s doctor and a good friend of Razumikhin. He is young and suspected Raskolnikov to be mentally ill.
Nastasya Petrovna- A servant in the apartment building Raskolnikov lives in. She brings him food and tea and she also took care of him when he was sick.
Illya Petrovich- A police official that Raskolnikov met at the station after committing the murder. He also confessed to him later on. Illya has a major temper problem and was known to explode on people.
Alexander Grigorievich Zamyotov- An official at the police station who suspected Raskolnikov of the murders.
Nikolai Dementiev- A painter who worked in an empty apartment next to Alyona’s the day of the murders. He was suspected and held in prison eventually confessing even though he didn’t do it.
Polina Mikhailovna Marmeladov- The oldest daughter of Katerina from her last marriage.
Section 7: Theme
Alienation would have to be the main theme of the book. Raskolnikov has alienated himself and does not want help from anyone, not even his best friends and his own family. He suffers and doesn’t accept help from anyone. This barrier he has set up isn’t broken until he realizes he loves Sonya.
Section 8: Symbols and Literary Devices
There are a few symbols in the story. One of which is the city of St. Petersburg itself. It is nasty and full of drunks. This represents society and how horrible people are. There is also the cross Sonya gives Raskolnikov. This represents how he has realizes he made a mistake. Its also a symbol for Jesus’ self sacrifice for our sins.