Character Analysis in Crime and Punishment
Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov : The main character, Raskolnikov believes that he is bound for a great destiny. As a student Raskolnikov developed a theory of “ordinary” and “extraordinary” individuals, concluding that the latter were allowed to ignore the rules of society to accomplish their goals. Believing himself to be such a person, Raskolnikov murders the pawnbroker and spends the novel dealing with the aftermath of his actions. Much of his character development is explored through internal monologues as he struggles with his alienation from society, his sin, and his relationships with others.
Sonya Semyonovna Marmeladov: A young woman who encounters Raskolnikov through her father, Marmeladov, Sonya does whatever she can to support her family financially, even to the point of becoming a prostitute. She later becomes a confidante for Raskolnikov, urging him to confess his crime. Perhaps one of the more sympathetic and caring characters, Sonya reveals herself capable of compassion for Raskolnikov and serves as a moral compass for him throughout the novel.
Arkady Ivanovich Svidrigailov: One of the more vile and manipulative characters in literature, Svidrigailov’s subtle charm and disguised depravity give him access to nearly everything he desires. Once the financial patron of Raskolnikov’s sister, Dunya, Svidrigailov follows her to St. Petersburg, encountering Raskolnikov in the process and attempting to manipulate the young man into helping him pursue his own ambitions.
Character Analysis Examples in Crime and Punishment:
Dostoevsky chose these names for particular reasons. In Russian, raskol (раскол) means "split" and the main characters family name roughly translates to "of the splitters." Considering what we learn about his state of mind and ideas regarding crime and justice, the choice of this name more than adequately represents the conflicts, both internal and external, that he will face.
Raskolnikov finally eats and drinks something and, unsurprisingly, feels immediately better. He considers the feelings of confusion he was having as "simply physical derangement"; that is, his body was out of order due to a lack of nourishment which caused his confusion and anxiety rather than any mental reasons. Despite this, Raskolnikov's mental health affects his physical health throughout the story.
Astute readers will likely have developed a strong hypothesis regarding what kind of crime Raskolnikov intends to commit. Notice here how he focuses on the details of the room and the pawnbroker while simultaneously calling such actions degrading, or humiliating. Recall how Dostoevsky indicated that Raskolnikov has subconsciously accepted that he will commit the crime, but that he has yet to full realize his intention to do it. This example helps to illustrate this difference.
This character, Lizaveta Ivanovna, sells old clothing and cleans for her sister, Alonya Ivanovna--the old woman Raskolnikov is currently speaking with. Lizaveta is revealed to be a little simple-minded and suffers much at the hands of her abusive sister. She remains innocent of much wrongdoing, and her appearance later in the novel in a crucial scene has lasting implications on Raskolnikov's well-being.
In Russian Orthodoxy, a branch of the Christian religion, it is common for women, particularly elderly ones, to wear a kerchief, or headscarf. The absence of such an article of clothing doesn't necessarily imply that the woman is not religious; however, Dostoevsky might be subtly implying a non-reverent quality to add to the generally detestable description.
While Dostoevsky provides elaborate details on the house and its inhabitants, the implication here is that the man also knows these things. Based on his desire to not seem obvious and his preference for darkness to keep "inquisitive eyes" away, it is becoming clear that the man intends to eventually do something unlawful.
The man's response reveals that he feels no shame in how he dresses, but he does care a lot about how noticeable his clothing is. Notice how he mutters aloud, almost chastising himself, for not having thought about how obvious his hat is and how it could allow others to easily identify him. This focus on trifles, or small things of little importance, and his attitude towards them will continue to develop.
"Fastidiousness" refers to a quality or characteristic of being very concerned with attention to detail and/or cleanliness. Dostoevsky states that although the man may want to care about his appearance, he has such anger inside of him that such things as how he looks in the general public are not high on his list of priorities.
The man contrasts his fright at having to listen to his landlady with something else he is thinking of attempting. While we don't know what this other thing is yet, we do know that he considers it something of importance. He continues to mutter to himself in an effort to make sense of his thoughts and actions, and we see how this inner conflict develops over time.
Dostoevsky's characters often struggle with feelings of isolation and anxiety. Here he tells us how this young man, possibly a hypochondriac (someone who imagines they're often sick), has stopped caring about his financial troubles and attending to important things in his practical life. His self absorption and lack of self-care provide clues into how he approaches and rationalizes his behavior.
Despite feeling vexed that he had come to the tavern and the sickening sensation he felt during Marmeladov's story, Raskolnikov still resolves to help him. This behavior contrasts with Raskolnikov's typically antisocial behavior and helps to show him as someone willing to help others in need.
The capitalized "He" in this sentence refers to the Christian God. Marmeladov appears to confess that he seeks trouble with drink to emphasize the holy qualities of his daughter in an effort to ensure that she will receive a heavenly reward after death. This is, however, likely more of an excuse for his drinking habit despite whatever good intentions he may have.
By prostituting herself at the behest of her mother-in-law and for the sake of her family, Sonia sacrifices her own body and innocence for others. This initial selfless act is a defining moment for her character, her role in the story, and introduces the theme of sacrifice into the narrative.
Marmeladov names his daughter from his first marriage. He gives readers more insight into Sonia's character in this passage, which confirms his earlier statement that she possesses a "yellow passport"--due to pressure from Marmeladov's second wife.
Marmeladov has indicated that his family lives in the same building as Lebeziatnikov. In addition to altercations with Marmeladov's wife, Lebeziatnikov also reveals himself to be somewhat of a know-it-all even though he is barely capable of comprehending the theories he espouses. This example here is evidence of this statement; he appears to believe that the notion that compassion is not allowed by science is true solely based on England's economic success.
While Marmeladov's nails could be black from dirt and filth, black nails are also a symptom of kidney or liver disease, which can be brought on by excessive and continued alcohol consumption. Considering what we've learned, he is most certainly an alcoholic and his bloated face, fat and red hands, and black nails are all evidence of this.
The fact that Marmeladov enjoys the beatings he receives from his wife emphasizes the depths of his alcoholism and the belief he has in a better life after death for his family. He believes that being physically punished helps assuage his guilt because it serves as a kind of penance for his sins.
It is worth noting that despite his earlier revulsion after Marmeladov started speaking, Raskolnikov has continued listening to the drunk's tale with interest. Pay attention to moments when Raskolnikov's caring nature manifests around the less fortunate, particularly in comparison to how he views himself.
Marmeladov reveals the circumstances that brought him and his family to this part of Saint Petersburg, and he also reveals how he regained and then lost his position as Titular Counsellor. The guilt he feels manifests in his drinking as self-abuse because he feels powerless and incapable of fixing his current situation.
While he considers poverty not a moral problem, Marmeladov indicates that begging for anything is not a virtuous thing to do and is a source of problems. This paragraph helps give the reader some context regarding the monetary circumstances of Marmeladov and his family.
In the Table of Ranks, defined by Peter the Great in 1722, Titular counsellor was a government position in Imperialist Russia that was more or less equivalent to a military Captain in terms of rank and authority. The kind of services someone like Marmeladov would provide are often ambiguous in nature, with authors like Dostoevsky and Nikolai Gogol sometimes using the position for humor.
Marmeladov's daughter, Sofya (Sonia) Semyonovna no longer lives with the rest of the family since the landlady, Leppeveschel, evicted her upon learning the girl had resorted to prostitution. Sonia did this in part due to the advice of Marmeladov's second wife, Katerina Ivanovna, and Sonia continues to sacrifice her own body for the sake of Marmeladov's family. We soon learn that Sonia now rents a room from a man named Kapernaumov.
This is Marmeladov's landlord, who is also referred to as Amalia Ivanovna Lippevechsel, and Amalia Ludwignova. Marmeladov's wife, Katerina Ivanovna, occasionally insults Amalia Leppeveschel by calling her “Amalia Ludwigovna,” suggesting her father was a German of questionable descent and not a Russian count as Amalia claims.
Even though Dostoevsky portrays Raskolnikov as a misanthrope (someone who avoids interacting with others) it is worth noting that this sudden desire is likely brought on by the alcohol and food he has just consumed--which have most likely improved his mood.
Pulcheria clearly raised her son as a Russian Orthodox Christian, so he is likely very familiar with the rules of the church and the promise of redemption that the faith offers. Notice how his relationship to God, the church, and the theme of redemption continue to develop throughout the novel.
Nastasya works for Raskolnikov's landlady as a servant, cook, and housekeeper. She appears to be good natured, talkative, and genuinely shows pity and concern for Raskolnikov's well-being. She is not an overly complex character, and Dostoevsky uses the way she questions Raskolnikov and their dialogue to help draw out information for the readers to move the plot along.
Despite the gratitude that Raskolnikov's mother, Pulcheria Alexandrovna, feels for the actions of Marfa Petrovna, it is interesting to note this little detail. Pulcheria considers making copies of the letter and handing them out excessive, which readers will likely agree with. The reasons for doing this more likely serve to embarrass her husband, rather than exonerate Dounia.
Raskolnikov's landlady, to whom he is in debt. This is why he questioned the tea when Nastasya brought it to him. Considering what we later learn about his relationship to Praskovya, he has good reason to not want, he doesn't want to accrue more debt with her than he already has.
Raskolnikov has become a monomaniac, a person so obsessed with one idea that he has failed to take care of anything else. His personal hygiene, diet, and social skills are all suffering. Considering how well the food and drink made him feel earlier, it's possible that much of his suffering comes from the poor conditions he has subjected himself to.
Recall how Raskolnikov's name roughly translates to "of the splitters." This chapter features two examples of his dangerously fragile personality. First, the sharp change in his commitment to prevent his sister from marrying Luzhin to wondering why he should care; now, his desire to help the abused girl suddenly goes away, and he professes to not care at all. This behavior likely exemplifies Dostoevsky's desire to create a character that is suffering from a personality disorder brought on by mental strain.
The anger that Raskolnikov attacks this man with is obviously connected to the anger that he felt from reading his mother's letter. The relationship between Dounia and Svidrigailov has clearly made such an impression on Raskolnikov that he calls this potential sexual predator by the same name as the man who made unwanted advances on his sister.
Raskonikov emphasizes his inability to help his family with their financial burdens by denying that he could "save them" from Zeus, the supreme god of Greek religion and mythology, who is used as a stand in for Fate, God, or anything that has already decide the fate of his family. The theme of fate and chance in the novel surround Raskolnikov's actions and discussions of crime later in the book.
Recall how Dounia, in his mother's letter, specifically said that "words are not actions." This applies here and likely reveals why the word is stresses because Raskolnikov knows that all his thoughts and words have not resulted in any action on his part to better his situation.
Raskolnikov equates his sister's actions with Sonia's decision to become a prostitute in order to help her family. However, he continues this line of thought to reveal that at least he consider's Sonia's actions as more necessary and somewhat acceptable than his sister's. An important take away from this monologue, aside from how dangerously quickly Raskolnikov's mind changes on the matter, is that he appears to not understand their self-sacrifices and the rational behind them.
Having told himself that he can't possibly carry out the crime, Raskolnikov desperately prays to God to save him from these murderous thoughts. Afterward, feels as though he is free of his burden, but this brief feeling of redemption quickly dissipates later in the day.
The violent and graphic dream fully brings forth Raskolnikov's unexpressed, murderous intentions to the surface. Once he wakes from his dream, he finally vocalizes the crime he intends to commit: to kill the pawnbroker and steal from her. However, this act of speaking his crime aloud only serves to sicken him and cause him more despair.
Notice how Dostoevsky uses this dream as a way to show his audience not only what kind of mental anguish Raskolnikov is suffering from, but he also uses it to provide information about his past by interjecting descriptions about how Raskolnikov actually behaved as a young child in addition to describing how things actually were instead of relying on simply the dream reality.
While earlier in the novel, Dostoevsky revealed to the readers that subconsciously and inadvertently, Raskolnikov had already made up his mind about committing the crime. However, it wasn't until this moment when he decides to go to Razumihin's after the crime does he realize that he has actually been intending to carry it out rather than simply considering it. Notice how later in this chapter he fully vocalizes his plan after a vivid dream.
After hearing the news that Lizaveta will not be home the following day at a specific time, Raskolnikov's feelings of peace and redemption leave him, and he enters his home "like a man condemned to death." This simile reveals his thoughts to us: Raskolnikov believes that fate has decided he will go through with the murder.
Raskolnikov becomes deeply absorbed in trivial things such as extending the existing parks and gardens into a much larger public green space. He initially cites these thoughts as a helpful example of how he is not overly preoccupied with the murder; however, he quickly realizes that these thoughts are actually distracting and it is better for him to simply clear his head. This should be read as an indication that Raskolnikov is perhaps not as in control of his own willpower and reason as he believes himself to be.
Raskolnikov believes that other criminals get caught because they lose their willpower and reason in the moment and leave behind obvious details of their crime. He rather egotistically concludes that the only thing he has to do is maintain control of his reason and willpower and he'll be able to commit the crime without any repercussions.
In several moments like this one, Raskolnikov's reason and willpower return to him and allow him to take the necessary steps to cover up his crime. However, the internal struggles he is having prohibit him from covering all of his tracks, and he does forget a few important pieces of evidence.
This convulsive shudder provides evidence for the internal struggle Raskolnikov is having during the aftermath of killing Alyona Ivanovna. He is torn between accomplishing what he set out to do and fleeing the scene of his crime.
Dostoevsky's exposition here on Raskolnikov's thoughts could either be interpreted as speculative or be understood as a kind of flash forward to Raskolnikov thinking back on this moment in his past--which Dostoevsky has already done. These moments help us better understand actions that Raskolnikov doesn't take and provides us with more context to better understand the guilt he feels and how this contributes to his character.
That is, Raskolnikov is trying to avoid getting any blood on him, which is streaming from the dead pawnbroker's body. Pay close attention to how he fluctuates between acting like a cold-blooded criminal and a careless and foolish one because these actions provide more evidence for Raskolnikov's split psyche and poor understanding of himself.
In the previous chapter, Raskolnikov contemplated why so many crimes are committed so poorly. However, since he left his building he has constantly been struggling with random thoughts and easily solvable problems. Notice how Dostoevsky uses those examples and more like this one in this chapter to show readers how Raskolnikov is not the criminal he believes himself to be.
Razkolnikov is realizing that one of the consequences for the murders he has committed is that he will eventually become completely isolated from the rest of society--alienated from the world until he is able to confess his own guilt.
The calm demeanor of Alexander Grigorievitch Zametov, the head clerk, stands in stark contrast to the Ilya Petrovitch, the explosive associate superintendent who clearly has little tolerance for others and is proud of his position.
Raskolnikov worries that his reason might desert him, which he would consider to be a definitive sign that he cannot overcome the guilt from his crime. He gets a moment of reprieve here when he realizes that he still has some control. We later learn that Raskolnikov believes in a theory that some extraordinary men are capable of committing crimes without any lapse in willpower or reason and are above such guilty feelings while others are punished by their consciences.
After searching his belongings for blood and hiding the trinkets he stole, Raskolnikov suddenly becomes overwhelmed with exhaustion, unable to think clearly. He momentarily falls asleep here, but he then does it again shortly. These periods of sleep suggest that his guilty conscience has already started forming and taking hold of him.
In addition to his physical illness, Raskolnikov is also mentally fatigued and distraught. His confusing encounter with Razumihin has compounded onto his fragile psyche and now he is less aware of his actions and the space around him.
Raskolnikov directs the anger he feels from his own ineptitude at the world around him in an effort to isolate himself from others. He believes that this disconnect will set him apart from humanity and make him better able to deal with the consequences of his crime.
While he decides that his reasons for not looking in the purse for money are due to his sickness, Dostoevsky is using Raskolnikov's inner monologues to show readers how unstable he is. Raskolnikov's ego makes him believe he is capable of dealing with the consequences of this crime; however, he is steadily realizing that his reason is not as sound as he believed. He blames this on illness, but notice how this attitude shifts during the progression of the novel.
Nobody in the story has provided any credible reason for doing such a thing to Raskolnikov. This statement more likely indicates the growing paranoia he feels from the crime and emphasizes the internal conflict he is having with his ego and psyche.
While the expression "good God" can be interpreted as simply an exclamation, Raskolnikov might also be directly asking God if they know about his crime. This question marks an interesting and brief moment in his character, when at a loss for what to do, he finds himself appealing to a higher power for answers.
Recall the list of names that Razumihin gave Raskolnikov for who he has recently met in the house. Three of them are the police officers that Raskolnikov met at the station. This news is enough to make the already distraught Raskolnikov even more upset and anxious.
Raskolnikov decides to wait and see how the events play out before him. Considering how he has a fever dream and imagined the landlady being beaten, he is trying to assure himself that what is transpiring is real and not a dream.
Raskolnikov's explosive reaction to this detail reveals much about how he worries that he made a mistake. He thinks that if he missed this box and the earring behind the door, then there might be other details that he missed that could become evidence tying him to the murder. Such a reaction also demonstrates how much the guilt is starting to eat away at Raskolnikov, and his inability to control his emotions.
Razumihin believes that the whole crime was committed by someone with no experience, and that to believe it was done by an experienced criminal makes investigators come to false conclusions. He supports this claim based on the fact that the murderer left a huge amount of money at the apartment, and how only chance allowed the criminal to escape. Such comments likely affect Raskolnikov negatively.
That is, Razumihin addressed him in such a familiar way that the gentleman was unsettled by this comment. This detail tells the readers how the gentleman is apparently used to being addressed in particular ways and is therefore not at ease in less formal situations and environments.
Raskolnikov has never met this man before, but he knows the name from his mother's letter: Luzhin asked Dounia, Raskolnikov's sister, to marry him. However, based on the tone in the letter, Raskolnikov took an immediate dislike to this man without ever meeting him, and Raskolnikov's reluctance to acknowledge Luzhin is likely based on that.
Raskolnikov's admission here that he is ashamed of making mistakes during the crime reveals much about the kind of person he considers himself to be. While we later on learn about his work as a student, what we can infer from this statement is that Raskolnikov believed himself capable of carrying out the murder cleanly and confidently without any complicating factors. The fact that he didn't is a source of incredible embarrassment for him.
In the original Russian, Raskolnikov says Ya by vot kak zdelal (Я бы вот как сделал) which can be translated as it is in the text or as "I would have done it like this." The translator's choice adds extra meaning to Raskolnikov's "confession," because it not only allows him to speak hypothetically, but inform the readers of how he wishes he had done the crime.
Raskolnikov's reaction to this woman's attempted suicide reveals that he himself was considering this action while standing on the bridge considering how he could end the struggle and guilt he is feeling. Seeing her attempt, he realizes that to die in such a way is not appropriate for him and contemplates that living the rest of his life in a jail cell would be preferable to suicide.
This reckless conversation with Zametov exemplifies how Raskolnikov is suffering from guilt and his desire to change things "one way or another." His ego has taken over in this conversation and driven him to nearly confessing to the murder through a game of "what if?" Notice that Raskolnikov's strange behavior throws Zametov off, which is likely the only reason why Zametov doesn't take him seriously at this time, but it comes back later in the story.
Raskolnikov sees the condition this woman is in and reflects on how he heard once that life, no matter what condition, is preferable to death. This chapter reveals how he continues to suffer psychologically from the guilt of his conscience as he contemplates how it can end it "one way or another." This manifests as a struggle between confessing, which would be like death to him, and a desire to live.
This paragraph represents the strongest assertion that Raskolnikov has made regarding his own behavior in the entire story thus far. He has recognized the value of living life, and how he did not lose himself when he killed the pawnbroker. This declaration marks a turning point in his character, but his crime will still continue to have power over him.
His act of compassion towards the Marmeladov family has filled Raskolnikov with new energy and purpose. This dialogue with the young girl represents this change in his behavior and mental state, and asking her to pray for him signifies a willingness on his part to seek redemption for his own crimes.
This is the second time that Raskolnikov has had blood on him. In both instances, the blood symbolized different things. Whereas the blood of the pawnbroker symbolizes his corruption and sin, the blood of Marmeladov represents a kind of transition towards redemption because of Raskolnikov's willingness to sacrifice his own money for the sake of Marmeladov's family.
Raskolnikov has eagerly been offering to assist however he can. So much care for other people has so far not been characteristic of his behavior. However, considering the brief history he has with Marmeladov and his family and the impression Marmeladov's story made on him, perhaps Raskolnikov is able to feel sympathy for this tragic family that is constantly suffering.
Pulcheria Alexandrovna is likely pursuing this line of inquiry because her son's reaction to the news supports many of the doubts she has about that proposed marriage--which she clearly indicated in the letter she wrote to Raskolnikov. Her desire to support her children is clear; however, this aversion to her daughter's proposed marriage adds a complication to their relationship and family dynamic.
While being a gossip is generally not considered a positive character trait, Razumihin's tendency to overshare is not only endearing because of his jolly nature, but it also helps to fill in the other characters on what is happening in the story. Dostoevsky likely made Razumihin this way in order to help drive the plot forward.
Throughout the novel, Dostoevsky has written in such a way to suggest to the readers that Raskolnikov suffers from a personality disorder. It appears that this knowledge is also suspected by Razumihin, which strongly reinforces the suggestion. If Raskolnikov is suffering from a personality disorder, then this explains much about his mood swings and how he struggles with his guilt.
Raskolnikov's following analysis of Luzhin's letter is one of the more lucid and intellectual displays he has made in the entire novel. Much has been said about his intelligence, and this is the first true example of his education in action. Notice the effect it has on everyone else; they are impressed to see him rationally address the items in the letter and tactfully approach the more sensitive parts that pertain to Raskolnikov's behavior.
Raskolnikov not only understands Zossimov, but he also realizes that it is a better cover for his behavior to let them think that he has been suffering from madness. Raskolnikov believes that this cover would allow him to have an easier time dealing with people. However, even though he is not actually a madman, Raskolnikov still consciously and unconsciously contradicts himself with words and actions.
Zossimov's insight here on the effects of madness provides a striking parallel to how Raskolnikov experienced the murder of the pawnbroker. While he performed the crime with extreme awareness, Raskolnikov has trouble thinking back on it afterwards, thinking of his actions as if they were a dream.
Zossimov's interest in Raskolnikov has clearly been established at this point to be primarily in Raskolnikov's mental state. During the late 19th century, medicine took a marked shift towards the study of mental illness and psychology became a more popular field of study. Dostoevsky is likely using the young doctor Zossimov as an example of this change in the field.
Razumihin is likely embarrassed about Raskonikov noticing his feelings for Dounia. Raskolnikov is sarcastically teasing and taunting Razumihin for a specific purpose, and we know that it's not in good fun based on how upset Razumihin gets at Raskolnikov's "playful" suggestions.
All of Raskolnikov's teasing served a purpose: Raskolnikov intended to enter the building laughing is to provide the illusion that he is happy and carefree--something he considers an essential thing to have Porfiry Petrovitch notice. Porfiry has a reputation for being a very observant and capable detective, and so Raskolnikov hopes to use small details to remove himself from suspicion of the crime.
Despite the quotation marks, this is not said out loud. Dostoevsky has Raskolnikov engage in internal monologue as well as dialogue with Razumihin so that readers will learn more about how gullible Raskolnikov considers Razumihin to be.
Sonia is experiencing some kind of new feeling after meeting Raskolnikov for the first time. However, this feeling is complicated by a kind of conflict or turmoil that she feels at the prospect of his coming to her home--there is something there that she doesn't want him to see.
Pulcheria Alexandrovna finds herself happier to not be in her son's presence, which is surprising for her considering how much she has missed Raskolnikov. This statement is meant to show us just how changed Raskolnikov has become since his mother last saw him, and it also emphasizes how his crime is affecting his behavior towards others.
Pulcheria Alexandrovna has started to suspect that Raskolnikov is not how she remembers him to be. She states her two children are very much alike and they vacillate between extremes. However, she suspects Raskolnikov of doing things because of his ego, which has negative connotations. Considering his attitude towards crime, his "confession" to Zametov, and his personal relationships, Pulcheria's doubt likely reveal the truth about her son.
Razumihin opposes the idea that crime represents an expression of revolt against society, maintaining that humans are accountable for their own moral responsibility. Hearing that Raskolnikov has written a theory on extraordinary people being exempt from their actions stands in contrast to both Razumihin's own theories of personal accountability and the modern theories of crime that Porfiry has stated. His outburst here reflects his confusion and likely frustration upon hearing this, demonstrating how passionately he holds to his own ideals.
Raskolnikov's assertion of this in the article provides interesting insight into how he fell ill immediately committing the murders. Whether or not this proves his theory is unclear, but it not only provides insight into how he possibly anticipated feeling after committing the crime, but also it demonstrates how Raskolnikov is not as strong as he thought himself to be.
Razumihin is stating that in socialism, the cause of a crime is only an individual's protesting against society. This theory removes the blame for the crime from the individual. The idea is in sharp contrast to Razkolnikov's internal guilt. The following conversation adds much to the theme of guilt in the story, and Porfiry uses it to his advantage to learn more about Raskolnikov.
While Raskolnikov barely manages to look directly at Porfiry, the latter has no problem meticulously studying Raskolnikov. This detail gives the impression that Porfiry is capable of great concentration and study. Porfiry's abilities as a detective are clearly demonstrated throughout the text, and his eccentric style comes to the forefront in several instances.
This and the preceding statements show that Raskolnikov does not feel remorse for murdering another human being; in fact, he is upset because his murders were unsuccessful in achieving his ends. This "raving" conversation he is having with himself clearly shows how much difficulty he is having ridding himself of the guilt.
Notice the repetition of the word "perhaps" in this passage. Raskolnikov is trying very hard to confidently tell Razumihin that Porfiry and Zametov have no substantial evidence for their theory, yet the repetition of this word betrays how worried he actually is by their probing questions.
The "it" here refers to that crime, and Razumihin really wants to give Raskolnikov the benefit of the doubt; however, he is also an intelligent man and cannot ignore evidence. Based on the discussion in the previous chapter, Razumihin now knows that Porfiry and Zametov suspect Raskolnikov in the murder of the pawnbroker and he cannot help entertaining this idea as well.
et nihil humanum – [Latin] “nothing human is alien to me.” Svidrigaïlov uses this Latin phrase to say that he is a man familiar with what it means to be human, and therefore, he has human emotions and desires.
Raskolnikov uses this expression to mean that Luzhin is criticizing and verbally assaulting Sonia. It is also reminiscent of the phrase, "People who live in glass houses should not throw stones." In this case, Luzhin, who is easily offended, should not insult others for qualities and characteristics when he himself is also susceptible to similar criticism.
Even though he refused to believe that his friend could possibly be implicated in the murder, Razumihin finally comes to understand why Raskolnikov has been behaving so strangely. He turns pale in this moment of realization, and Raskolnikov's words appear to confirm that Razumihin understands what has happened.
Dostoevsky personally introduces his own voice into the narrative in this section. By choosing to do this and end the chapter in this way, he creates a tragic but hopeful end to this part of the story with Razumihin finally coming to an implicit understanding with Raskolnikov and resolving to do his utmost to help Dounia and Pulcheria Alexandrovna.
schwach -- [German] This word means "weak" in English, and this is one of the few times in the story that Razumihin lies. Note, however, that he does this in order to help his friend.
Dostoevsky provides readers with the rationale behind Luzhin's decision to propose to Dounia in this passage. Not only does Luzhin want someone of a poor background, but he also desires someone who would worship him as a hero. He has had financial success in life and has become vain and egotistical; therefore, his desire to have a wife represents how much he wants to "acquire" someone who will appreciate who he is and flatter his ego on a daily basis.
Dostoevsky shows us Luzhin's true rational behind his desire to have a bride from a poor background in this passage. Luzhin does not seek an equal in a marriage partner; rather, he is looking for someone to be completely beholden to him. Luzhin has been successful monetarily, and his successes have made him excessively vain and prideful. He wants to "acquire" someone to flatter his ego on a daily basis.
Pyotr Petrovitch uses the word "black" here to emphasize how strongly he believes the ingratitude to be. "Black" can have connotations of "evil," "hostile," or "atrocious," and this applies particularly well to how affected his character feels after being sent out from the apartment.
Here we realize Raskolnikov's true purpose in coming to see Sonia: he believes that they are suffering from the same sin. In his case, he took another person's life and is suffering from the sin and guilt of it. For Sonia, he considers her prostituting herself as also taking someone's life. By stating how similar he believes them to be, Raskolnikov hopes that she can help free him from the torture of his conscience.
This is a very famous quote from the Bible in the book of John 11:25 that speaks about the redemption and resurrection for those who believe in Jesus Christ. For someone who has committed the crime of murder and considers his life potentially forfeit, Raskolnikov finds this message of resurrection and rebirth attractive.
Dostoevsky uses this simile to reinforce the kind of image he wants readers to have in their minds of Sonia: very small, delicate, and innocent. Even when she is agitated or angry, she still does not possess the ability to be aggressive or hostile.
Having left his family and friend, Raskolnikov's choice to walk directly to Sonia marks a transition in his character. Whereas previously he merely fretted with the crime or stayed in bed, here he appears to have a particular motive for visiting Sonia. Considering that she is a prostitute and therefore also "sinful," it's possible that Raskolnikov views her as someone he can be more open with.
In the original Russian, Porfiry says в семя пошел. "семя" refers to seed and also has an association with male reproductive fluids. The context of this quote suggests that Porfiry has gone to future generations, to posterity and will not have any children or family of his own.
This feeling that Raskolnikov has should remind the readers of Porfiry's knowledge of the essay on crime of Raskolnikov's that was published. In that essay, Raskolnikov posited that a criminal will become physically ill after committing the crime. His saying that the ordeal made him ill in this paragraph feels out of place to him because of the conversation he had with Porfiry about his paper, and he worries that he's giving himself away.
Raskolnikov notices this incongruity between what Porfiry is saying and how he looks. This gives readers the idea that Porfiry is deliberately trying to stall or provoke Raskolnikov into saying or doing something in particular. Regardless, this difficult to interpret glance gives Raskolnikov reason to suspect that Porfiry has an agenda.
If not for the sudden confession from Nikolay, Raskolnikov was likely very close to being arrested himself. This turn of events gives Raskolnikov a renewed sense of life and freedom similar to how he felt when he gave all his money to Katerina Ivanovna. However, if this moment is like the other, we know that his guilt will return and that this feeling of joy will be short lived.
This is the third instance in this passage where Porfiry has told Raskolnikov that their meeting again is something that rests upon God's judgment. Even though he says that he will need to speak to Raskolnikov about the forms, Porfiry is likely deliberately making Raskolnikov think about God and fate in order to make him stress more about his guilt.
This comments doesn't likely represent Luzhin's dislike of Lebeziatnikov; rather, his disconcerted response likely reveals that he had an ulterior motive in giving Sonia the ten roubles.
Despite her airs of nobility and desire for peace-making, Katerina Ivanovna has clearly revealed herself to have no pity when making fun of her German landlady's accent and inability to speak Russian as well as the native-born Russians.
Dostoevsky's decision to emphasize this word likely serves to show just how strong Katerina Ivanovna has affected the emotions of those gathered in the room. Even Luzhin, a haughty, calculating man, pities her.
The emphasis here is likely Dostoevsky's way of showing the readers that Katerina Ivanovna produced such an effect on the people in the room that even Luzhin, who has arranged this plan, is moved to pity.
Luzhin deliberately gets Sonia's name wrong in this passage, revealing himself to be cold and manipulative. He clearly has entered the party with his own purpose in mind, likely to do something to Raskolnikov and work his way back into Dounia's good graces.
Sonia's advice to Raskolnikov after he confesses reveals her belief of how he can atone for his sins. He must confess in front of everyone, and only then will he be free from his guilty conscience and allow justice to change him into a better person.
Recall how earlier in part I, chapter vi, Raskolnikov says, "“When reason fails, the devil helps!” His comments here support the idea that he knew that his intentions were in fact sinful all along, but that he did not care whether they were good or bad because he believed himself to be above such things.
Raskolnikov's attitude towards others is fully revealed here. He firmly believes, or at least believed, that some people are inherently better than others. The pawnbroker wasn't actually a person to him; rather, she was an obstacle that could be overcome.
Notice how after Raskolnikov has confessed his crime to Sonia, she firmly asserts her belif that he must bear the penalty for his crime by suffering--even to the point of accepting that his confessing to the police might get him sent to Siberia. However, she also reveals herself willing to bear the suffering with him, wherever he goes. This reveals the depth of her feelings for him as well as her willingness to sacrifice her own happiness to help others.
Sonia's willingness to go with Raskolnikov demonstrates how she perceives the process of healing, forgiveness, and redemption: it is similar to resurrection, and it is symbolized by the cross. Sonia tells Raskolnikov to take her own cross, an offering that is both literal and figurative, so that he will be strong enough to confess his crime.
Raskolnikov finally admits his real reason for murdering the own woman: to see if he was truly a man or a "louse." Had he felt no guilt, then he would have proved himself a man as part of this experiment. However, during this confession he realizes that he is not a man and therefore not as extraordinary as he thought himself to be.
Sonia's immediate concern is for Raskolnikov's own personal well-being rather than his victims or others. This line speaks to the quality of her character, and how she portrays herself as more of a saint and plays an instrumental role in Raskolnikov's redemption.
Experiencing a strong mix of emotions, Raskolnikov realizes that he is in fact going to confess his crimes to Sonia. The reactions he has up to this moment point to how he has struggled with how he perceives himself and who he really is. Confessing the crime to Sonia just might help Raskolnikov begin the healing process and reconcile his dual nature.
Raskolnikov rudely tells Sonia to stay and listen to him, ignoring her concerns that Katerina Ivanovna and the children might be in trouble. Such lack of concern on his part reinforces how egotistical and self-important Raskolnikov still is.
Porifry is referring to suicide. While he doesn't believe Raskolnikov would try to kill himself, he does state these lines to subtly reinforce the notion that this would be a weak-willed way to end things and that Raskolnikov would be best served by confessing.
As a detective, Porfiry is very perceptive and interested in the psychological profile of his suspects. Having learned that Nikolay had been in contact with a former spiritual mentor, Porfiry thinks he gave a false confession because of Nikolay's religious zeal, which means he'd be willing to suffer for penitence and redemption---even if the crime wasn't his. Porfiry clearly details this to fully explain his process to Raskolnikov and to reveal how he knows that Nikolay gave a false confession.
Recall that when Porfiry's profession was first introduced, the word "lawyer" was questioned. The original Russian word "следователь" directly translates to "investigator," and here, Porfiry is saying that even though he tries to be a rationally minded crime investigator, he can't help but realize that he has his own biases.
Raskolnikov feels this "disgust" shortly after Porfiry starts speaking for a few reasons. "Disgust" typically refers to strong feelings of revulsion or profound disapproval, and when Porfiry begins with "his professional tricks again," Raskolnikov not only remembers how badly their previous interview went, but he also feels a sense of disgust at Porfiry speaking with him as if they weren't intellectual equals.
This simile does more than represent the physical characteristics of Svidrigaïlov's face. By referring to his face as a mask, Raskolnikov is suggesting that Svidrigaïlov is a very difficult person to read; it is hard to tell what he is thinking and feeling.
Dostoevsky has provided moments in the story that support the idea of fate or chance as having a guiding hand in Raskolnikov's actions. The choice of words here by Svidrigaïlov to call their meeting a "miracle" (a very positive choice) and for Raskolnikov to dismiss it as "chance" (far less positive) indicates the similar yet different attitudes both men have towards fate.
Svidrigaïlov reveals himself to be a very keen observer of Raskolnikov's behavior in this passage. While he somewhat disguises it under the pretext of talking about others, readers will know that the behavior he is describing has been exhibited by Raskolnikov repeatedly. Such observations illustrate that Svidrigaïlov has an uncanny ability to not only perceive behavior, but also analyze what it means.
While this was the color of certain rouble notes at the time, the choice of a yellow note is deliberate on Dostoevsky's part. Yellow has symbolized corruption and sin throughout the novel, and in this moment, we see how it is directly associated with Svidrigaïlov, his money, and his choices. Dostoevsky likely does this to further suggest that we mistrust Svidrigaïlov's intentions.
Svidrigailov has revealed himself to be a man of particularly sinful behavior and tastes. Considering the age of his betrothed and the way he speaks about her physical appearance, Dostoevsky is likely suggesting that Svidrigailov possesses other traits that are revolting, such as being interested in such young girls.
Svidrigailov's way of suggesting how Raskolnikov reacts to what he says reveals much more to us as readers. For instance, this statement suggests that there are rumors that Madame Resslich's girl died somehow in connection to Svidrigailov. Considering what we know about his foul character, it is possible that he had a hand in her death.
Eyes have been traditionally referred to as "windows to the soul." Since Raskolnikov and his daughter have both commented on the strangeness of Svidrigaïlov's eyes, this then indicates that his despicable behavior and attitudes are apparent to those who look at him despite his efforts to conceal his true self with gentlemanly behavior.
This statement further reveals the despicable character of Svidrigaïlov, who feels no remorse to force his will on other women in order to get what he wants. Since he refers to seducing a married woman as "fun" and "little trouble," we can see the little regard he has for the feelings of others and how his actions impact those around him.
This is a good example of an understatement. Svidrigaïlov means to say that he played the role perfectly, but instead he uses a more humbling construction to try and make his behavior seem less impressive. He appears to place great emphasis on proper behavior despite being a sinful and lustful man.
Raskolnikov's insult underlines one of Dostoevsky's purposes in creating a character like Svidrigailov. This is someone who lives for pleasure--particularly sensual and sexual. Svidrigailov has no moral issues about seducing and manipulating others for his own purposes. Because of this, he is actually living out Raskolnikov's theory of extraordinary people who can live above the law without consequences.
Svidrigailov makes a rather astute observation of Raskolnikov's behavior. The "Schiller" part of Raskolnikov represents the morally upright, idealistic individual. By pointing out that this part is in revolt, Svidrigailov identifies the suffering and Raskolnikov is experiencing from his crime. Since much of Raskolnikov's experiences have been related to readers via his own observation, this provides extra evidence of the internal conflict the main character has been facing.
Svidrigailov is the only other character whose dreams Dostoevsky relates to us. Like Raskolnikov's first, it is violent and unpleasant. The little girl symbolizes how Svidrigailov is attracted to pure and innocent women; however, when he wins them over, he either corrupts them or proves that they were already corrupt. We've learned that he could always go from woman to woman, likely seeking true purity. When Dounia rejects him, he learns that he will never be able to possess such purity.
Readers should view this line with suspicion. Having been rebuked by Dounia, Svidrigailov foreshadows that he has some other plan or plans in mind. His concern for his own health here represents a somewhat ironic statement on his part, especially considering what he plans to do. However, it does reinforce the image of Svidrigailov as a character who holds to certain ideas of decorum despite doing whatever he pleases with those around him.
Recall that it has been suggested that Svidrigailov drove a young girl to suicide. The context following this line suggests that Svidrigailov sexually abused her. However, this detail is not explicit, which likely represents how he remembers the event happening. He seems to either not be aware of his own actions in her death or not care about the role he played. Considering his general disregard for the feelings of others, the latter is the more likely.
Raskolnikov still struggles with accepting Dounia's (and Sonia's) belief that he should confess and suffer for his crime because those he killed were either criminals themselves or idiots. He challenges whether or not suffering is actually worth what Dounia and Sonia profess it to be. This reaction demonstrates how his pride still has a hold on his thoughts and actions, and while he is close to seeking redemption, he still has much to consider.
The small, Christian cross that Sonia has symbolizes his willingness to confess the crime. However, notice that Raskolnikov appears to be doing it because he feels he cannot avoid the authorities anymore rather than confessing to God so that he can begin the process of redemption.
Raskolnikov finally understands and recognizes his love for Sonia. In this moment, they realize that they both love each other, and Raskolnikov experiences a fundamental change within himself; he has been redeemed and given new life through his love for Sonia and her love for him.
This plague in Raskolnikov's dream makes people think they have and know the truth so forcefully that they end up killing one other over their disputes. This plague/dream represents a world that has taken Raskolnikov's theories to their extremes. He sees a society turned chaotic with no sense of order or boundaries. The dream haunts him and helps him struggle with his pride and beliefs about his self-importance.