CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
SUMMARY AND STUDY GUIDE
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Rodion Romanovitch Raskolnikov The main character who is alternately
called Rodya, Rodenka, and Rodka.
Avdotya Ramanovna Raskolnikov Rodya's sister, alternately called
Pulcheria Alexandrovna Raskolnikov Rodya's mother.
Semyon Zakharovitch Marmeladov A drunkard who figures prominently
in a bar conversation with Raskolnikov.
Katerina Ivanovna The wife of Marmeladov.
Sofya Semyonovna Marmeladov Marmeladov's daughter and devoted step-daughter
of Katerina Ivanovna, who prostitutes herself and later falls in love with
Raskolnikov. Also called Sonia.
Arkady Ivanovitch Svidrigaylov Dounia's former employer who arrives
in St. Petersburg.
Marfa Petrovna Svidrigaylov's wife who dies and leaves Dounia a bundle
of needed money.
Pyotor Petrovich Luzhin A rich man who thinks he can buy happiness
for Dounia, his love. His name, comically, means "puddle."
Dimitri Prokofitch Razhumikin Raskolnikov's best friend and guardian
Andrey Semyonovitch Lebezyatnikov A tenant in the same building as
the Marmeladovs and a liberal.
Porfiry Petrovich The overseeing police officer on Raskolnikov's
Alyona Ivanovna The moneylender who Raskolnikov murders.
Lizavetta Ivanovna The simple-minded sister of Alyona and a friend
Praskovya Pavlovna Raskolnikov's complaining landlady who is owed
Nastasya Praskovya's servant and a friend of Raskolnikov.
Amalia Fyodorovna The Marmeladov's landlady who causes a big scandalous
fight at a dinner party.
Kapernaumov Sonia's landlady.
Zossimov A friend of Razhumikin and a doctor who cared for Raskolnikov.
Nikodim Fomitch Chief of the police.
Zametov A clerk in the police station and a fiend of Razhumikin.
Ilya Petrovitch A police official.
Nikolay and Dimitri The painters, one of whom admits to the crime.
In Chapter One, a young handsome student, Raskolnikov,
is on his way to visit an old pawnbroker. In a bizarre, disturbed, state
of mind he struggles with his conscience over his obsessive planning of
"that." The reader learns that he intends to murder Alyona, the
pawnbroker. Despite the fact that he is disgusted by the thought of the
crime, he continues the careful, yet incomplete, planning. Rodion Romanovitch
Raskolnikov stops in a tavern after his visit to the old lady.
In Chapter Two, Semyon Marmeladov, a drunkard he meets at the bar,
relays the details of his life to Raskolnikov. His alcoholism had caused
the loss of his government job. He has been reinstated, but again is engaging
in a drinking binge. Marmeladov is afraid to return home to his abusive
wife, Katerina Ivanovna. Marmeladov's daughter, Sonia, was forced to enter
into prostitution in order to support the family. Five days ago, he stole
all the family's money and returned to the bars. Raskolnikov takes Marmeladov
home and sees first hand the poverty and violence they face. Although he
cannot afford to, Raskolnikov silently leaves money. Immediately after extending
this gesture of kind humanity, Raskolnikov feels as if he would like to
go back and regain the money. Raskolnikov's attraction to suffering leads
him to give what he cannot afford, but his tendency toward cold, detached,
intellectualism causes him to question his actions and creates in him astate
of anxiety and distress.
In Chapter Three, the reader sees Raskolnikov's suffocating quarters
with which even he is disgusted. His maid, Nastasya, tells Raskolnikov that
the landlady, Prakovya Pavlovna, is planning to bring official complaints
to the police because Raskolnikov has not paid his back rent. His mother
writes him of how Dunia, Raskolnikov's sister, has been working as a tutor
at the Svidrigailovs. Svidrigailov tried to seduce her and Marfa Petrovna,
overhearing the conversation, spreads horrible rumors about Dunia. Marfa
realizes her error and tries to correct the damage. Pyotr Petrovitch Luzhin,
a relative of Marfa Petrovna, proposes to Dunia. He desires a wife with
a good reputation but one without a dowry so that his wife will be indebted
to him. They will be in St. Petersburg soon so that Dunia can join Luzhin.
Raskolnikov is infuriated at all of this news and this additional stress
agitates him even more.
Raskolnikov takes a walk in Chapter Four. He decides that Dunia is
marrying Luzhin in order to provide help for him. Luzhin could give Raskolnikov
a job and also provide for the family himself. He does not want his sister
to sacrifice herself to a selfish, petty, egocentric man she does not love.
Deep in thought, Raskolnikov observes a young fifteen year old girl staggering
down the street, followed by a sordid looking man. Raskolnikov calls a policeman
to aid him in protecting the girl. He offers his last bit of money for a
cab, and then immediately regrets interfering in the situation. His love
for his mother and sister, coupled by traces of the conversation about Sonia
with Marmeladov, and magnified by this scene with the vulnerable young girl,
sends Raskolnikov thinking that his sister is embarking on a parallel sacrifice
to prostitution. At the end of the chapter, Raskolnikov decides to go visit
an old schoolmate, Razumikhin.
In Chapter Five, Raskolnikov decides he will delay his visit to Razumikhin
until after he does it. He has a drink and falls asleep in the park where
he has a disturbing dream about being a child of seven again and is walking
with his father to visit his mothers grave. They encounter a mass of drunken
peasants, one of which is trying to make an old horse pull a heavy wagon
full of people. The crowd ridicules this peasant, he gets angry and begins
beating the horse. The brutal, grotesque beating results in the murder of
the horse. Young Raskolnikov feels great compassion for the abused animal
and throws his arms around it and kisses it. Raskolnikov awakens and is
disturbed. On his walk home he overhears that Lizaveta, the old pawnbroker's
sister, will be out on an errand at exactly seven o'clock that night.
Chapter Six is a flashback to a conversation that Raskolnikov overheard
in which two young officers discuss the benefits of killing the old pawnbroker.
Murdering this woman would remove a harmful thing from society, stop the
evil she has been doing, free her money to be used to save destitute families,
and allow the person who commits the murder to serve humanity. Raskolnikov's
preparations to commit the murder delay him and he does not reach the old
woman's apartment until seven-thirty. By the time she cautiosly opens her
door, he is in a frenzied despair.
In Chapter Seven, Raskolnikov commits the brutal murder. He strikes
her twice with the blunt side of the ax. He searches her body for keys and
then searches the room. He suddenly hears footsteps in the entrance way.
Raskolnikov takes the ax and splits Lizaveta's skull who has entered and
is staring at her murdered step-sister. He tries to clean the blood from
he ax and his body. As he is ready to leave, the doorbell rings. The callers
realize that the door is locked from the inside. Suspicious, they leave
to get help. Raskolnikov slips out and hides in the empty flat that was
being painted. He returns home and falls into an unconscious sleep.
When Raskolnikov awakens in Chapter One, he realizes how
foolish it was of him not to lock his door and not to hide the items he
stole. His neurosis causes him to wonder if he is not already being punished.
He again falls into heavy, troubled sleep. Nastasya and a police officer
knock at his door, waking Raskolnikov. He is given a summons to the police
office. As he dresses, he is repulsed at the thought of having to wear the
bloody socks, but is forced to do so. He is preoccupied by whether or not
he should just confess. After signing and IOU for the back rent, Raskolnikov
begins to leave. He hears a conversation about the murder of Alyona Ivonovna
and Lizaveta, smells fresh paint, and faints. After recovering, he is even
more concerned that the police suspect him of the murder.
Raskolnikov hides the loot under a large rock in Chapter Two. He
goes to visit Razumikhin. His behavior is very erratic and he leaves without
fulfilling his initial intent. Raskolnikov walks home absentmindedly, is
almost run over by a coach, and is given money by a stranger who confuses
him for a beggar. He throws the money away. Back at home, he dreams that
the police officer Ilya Petrovitch is beating his landlady. Nastasya realizes
that Raskolnikov is sick. He collapses into unconsciousness.
After several days, Raskolnikov recovers consciousness in Chapter Three.
Razumikhin has been taking care of him. There is a stranger who comes and
wants to give him 35 rubles from his mother. When he falls back asleep,
Razumikhin leaves to buy new clothes for Raskolnikov.
In Chapter Four, the doctor, Zosimov, comes to check on Raskolnikov's
progress. Porfiry Petrovitch, the head of the Investigation Department also
arrives. Zosimov and Razumikhin talk about the arrest of two painters in
relation to the murders. This conversation excites Raskolnikov and Zosimov
notices his agitation but misinterprets it as a step toward regaining an
interest in life.
In Chapter Five, Luzhin comes to meet Raskolnikov. He is awkward,
feeble and has made abominable living arrangements for Dunia and her mother.
The conversation returns to the murders and Raskolnikov finds out that the
police are going to examine all who have left pledges with the old woman.
Raskolnikov accuse Luzhin of trying only to make Dunia feel indebted to
him. Luzhin protests and accuses Raskolnikov's mother of misrepresentation.
Raskolnikov threatens Luzhin physically if he ever mentions his mother again.
Zosimov and Razumikhin notice that Raskolnikov takes no interest in anything
except the murder.
Raskolnikov goes for another walk in Chapter Six, and lands in a
restaurant where he asks for the newspapers of the last five days. While
reading the papers, he meets Zametov, an official o the police and friend
of Razumikhin. Raskolnikov taunts Zametov throughout the conversation saying
that he came to the restaurant solely for the purpose of reading about the
murder. Zametov insinuates that the murder was done by an amateur. Raskolnikov
takes offense and offers what he thinks would be the perfect way of committing
the crime and how one should hide the loot. Ironically, his explanation
is exactly the manner in which he performed the crime. Raskolnikov asks
Zametov "And what if it was I who murdered the old woman and Lizaveta?"
Zametov is temporarily disturbed but soon dismisses this bizarre behavior
as an aftermath of Raskolnikov's illness. Raskolnikov goes to a bridge where
he is a witness to a woman's attempt to drown herself. He realizes that
he was going o attempt the same thing and then became disgusted with himself
for considering it. Raskolnikov returns to the scene of the crime. At the
end of the chapter, he is fully resolved to confess everything to the police.
On his way to the police station in Chapter Seven, Raskolnikov sees
a drunken Marmeladov stumble in the way of a carriage and get hit. Sonia
arrives home dressed in gaudy prostitution garb. Marmeladov attempts to
make apologies to his family. On his way out, Raskolnikov meets Nikodim
Fomitch, the police official, who comments that Raskolnikov is splattered
with blood. Polenka, the young daughter, follows Raskolnikov out to ask
him his name and to thank him for offereing to pay for the expenses. Raskolnikov
implores Polenka to pray for him. Raskolnikov's mother and Dunia are waiting
back at his apartment.
In Chapter One, Raskolnikov ruins the happy family reunion
by stating that he is opposed to Dunia's marriage. Dunia and her mother
are very gracious to Razumikhin for his help. Razumikhin develops a sudden
infatuation for Dunia.
In Chapter Two, the doctor gives news that he is satisfied with Raskolnikov's
progress. Razumikhin goes to speak with Pulcheria Alexandrovna and Dunia.
He relays the events of the last two years. They show Razumikhin a letter
from Luzhin requesting that Raskolnikov not be present at their first interview.
On returning to Raskolnikov's room, his mother is so frightened to see her
son that she can hardly stand up. Raskolnikov's mother is pleased to see
him better in Chapter Three. Raskolnikov insists that Dunia not marry
Luzhin. He places the ultimatum: him or Luzhin. Dunia makes an elaborate
justification and then Raskolnikov withdraws his objections disgustingly
saying marry who you like. Dunia shows Raskolnikov Luzhin's letter.
Sonia appears at Raskolnikov's apartment in Chapter Four. She has
come to invite him to the funeral and to the funeral lunch. Sonia becomes
embarrassed because she realizes that Raskolnikov must have given them all
the money he had. Dunia and his mother leave and Raskolnikov tells Razumikhin
that he wants an interview with Porfiry. He and Sonia are alone but Sonia
leaves immediately. Svidrigailov is checking to see where Raskolnikov lives.
In Chapter Five, Raskolnikov tells Porfiry that he had left Alyona
Ivanovna some small items which were not worth much but to which he was
greatly attached sentimentally. Porfiry subtly lets Raskolnikov know that
he is aware of his life: he knows of his sickness, of his meting with Zametov,
and of his presence at the Marmeladov's. Porfiry asks Raskolnikov to explain
parts of an article that he wrote on the crime. His theory centers around
the extraordinary man as opposed to the ordinary man. He argues that a crime
is always accompanied by sickness, all men are divided into ordinary and
extraordinary, ordinary men have no right to transgress the law, though
extraordinary men do have that right. All great men have the right to eliminate
a few men. In fact, being great means breaking from the common rut of ordinary
laws. Porfiry wonders if Raskolnikov thinks of himself as an extraordinary
man. Porfiry tries to make Raskolnikov slip up by asking if he remembers
seeing painters the day he went to see the old pawn broker. Raskolnikov
is not fooled and answers that he saw people moving out and that the painters
were there on the day of the murder. Raskolnikov asserts that the last time
he was there was a few days before that.
Raskolnikov and Razumikhin discuss the conversation in Chapter Six.
Raskolnikov returns to his room and searches to see if he might have left
evidence but is reassured and cannot find anything. As he is leaving, a
stranger appears and calls him a murderer. Raskolnikov is visibly agitated
and confused. He returns to his room and falls asleep. He dreams that he
is again striking the old woman but she refuses to die. When he awakens,
Svidrigailov is standing in the doorway.
It is in the Chapter One that Svidrigaylov and Raskolnikov
are shown to have something in common. Dostoyevsky begins to show us that
Raskolnikov is not the superman, but instead it is Svidrigaylov who is capable
of killing without moral pangs. Svidragaylov offers to pay Dounia so that
she will not marry Luzhin.
Arguably, the most exciting chapter in the book, Chapter Two has
Dounia telling Luzhin to leave for good. We see that Razhumikin is the most
noble character in the book and that he would defend Dounia's honor at all
In Chapter Three, Razkolnikov leaves Razhumikin to take care of his
sister and mother and then everything happens in Chapter Four. Raskolnikov
leaves his family and goes immediately to Sonya's house. His mean-spirited
taunting of Sonia in this part reminds the reader of an earlier work by
Dostoyevsky, The Underground Man. This is the religious part of the novel,
where Dounia's faith is emphasized. He has her read the raising of Lazarus
from the New Testament in a Bible that Lizavetta gave her. Then they agree
to stick it out together. Raskolnikov tells her that he knows who committed
the murder. Svidrigaylov is listening through the door of a neighboring
Chapter Five has a fascinating mind game between Raskolnikov and
Porfiry, the police detective, which ends in a peculiar way. Porfiry proclaims
his fondness for Raskolnikov and then in Chapter Six Nikolay, a house painter
at Lizavetta's house, is suddenly pushed in the door where he makes a confession
of the murder. At this point, Raskolnikov resolves to turn over a new leaf.
In Chapter One Luzhin sets up Sonya for Dostoyevsky's
great scandal to take place in chapter three. We get a humorous betrayal
of Lebezyatnikov, who has syndrome of believing the last intellectual idea
which he heard.
Chapter Two provides outrageous comic relief. Katerina Ivanovna has
a funeral banquet to honor her dead husband. She makes the mistake of inviting
everybody to the dinner. Then she gets into a horrible fight with her landlady.
Chapter Three is the scandal scene in which Luzhin accuses Sonya,
whom he loves, of being ungrateful and a theif. He gets caught in the act
by Lebezyatnikov and leaves in disgrace. On his way out the door, a goblet
narrowly misses his head and hits the landlady. Her response is to evict
Katerina from the building.
In Chapter Four Sonya learns all from Raskolnikov, but promises to
follow him to Siberia. Sonya asks him to ask for forgiveness of his sins,
but he refuses this and the cypress Cross that she tries to make him accept.
Lebezyatnikov enters at the end and in Chapter Five he tells Sonya what
she already knew from Raskolnikov, that Katerina Ivanovna and her children
are in the streets.
In Chapter One Razhumikin has it out with Raskolnikov
over his treatment of Dunya and his mother. Razkolnikov asks Razhumikin
to take care of him. After Razhumikin leaves, Porfiry enters. Significantly,
Raskolnikov no longer feels nervous around Porfiry.
In Chapter Two, Porfiry will do his best to anger Raskolnikov again.
He accuses him of the murder, explaining why the painter, Nikolay, could
not be responsible. Then, before leaving, he tells Raskolnikov that he wants
him to confess of his own free will. He is not afraid of Raskolnikov running
Chapter Three has Raskolnikov looking for Svidrigaylov and finding
him in a tavern. Raskolnikov threatens Svidrigaylov not to see his sister
and then, getting annoyed, he gets up to go. Svidrigaylov coaxes him to
stay in Chapter Four and they have a converstaion about Dounia.
Chapter Five is high drama. Svidrigalov and Raskolnikov depart and
Svidrigalov meets Dunya in the street. He tempts her to his apartment where,
in the most evil scandal of the book, he tells Dunya that her brother murdered
Lizavetta and then asks her to seduce him. They are locked in his apartment.
When she refuses and he threatens to overpower her, she pulls a gun-Svidrigaylov's
gun. She shoots and misses twice. The third time she is at very close range,
but she loses heart. Svidrigaylov embraces her, but she rebukes him and
leaves with the key.
Chapter Six has Svidrigaylov giving Sonia and his fiance some
money, dreaming a perverse dream, and shooting himself with his revolver.
Meanwhile, in Chapter Seven, Raskolnikov goes to visit his mother and sister.
He asks his mother to pray for him and before departing he has a long conversation
with Dunya about suffering. Then, he leaves for Sonia's.
Upon arriving at Soni's in the final chapter, he asks for her cross. He
says he will not go see Porfiry, Chapter Eight, but that he will make a
confession at the crossroads. Dunya follows him. Eventually, he goes to
the police station and makes his confession.
In the two Epilogues, Raskolnikov is sentenced to eight years in
Siberia and Sonia goes with him. Two months after Raskolnikov's trial, Razhumikin
marries Dunya. Raskolnikov is, at first, an aloof prisoner, but then when
Sonia gets sick he realizes his love for her. Thus the book ends.
Trace the psychological progress of Raskolnikov's mind from the
planning stages of the murder through the final realization of love.
Delineate the superior man argument and evaluate Raskolnikov by the theory.
Consider the different dreams throughout the novel and decide what functional
role they fulfill.
Explore the religious and biblical themes in the novel, especially the story
of Lazarus that Sonia reads to Raskolnikov.
Compare and contrast Svidrigailov with Raskolnikov-- How are they paralleled
and opposed? How does Svidrigailov fit into the extraordinary man theory?
Why does Svidrigailov commit suicide? Decide how you feel about his character.
What role does suffering have in the characters and in the novel? How does
each character suffer and feel about suffering? Who suffers the greatest
in Crime and Punishment?
The crime in Crime and Punishment occurs very early in the novel leaving
the rest of the novel to entertain theories of punishment. Discuss the different
forms of punishment and the concepts of law present in the novel.