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Metaphor in Crime and Punishment

While several of the extended metaphors relate to stories in the Bible, many of the more casual metaphors represent common idiomatic expressions from the late 19th century in Russia. The translator has generally converted these into English expressions, but many of them serve to represent different aspects of each character: from Razumihin’s colloquial geniality to Katerina Ivanovna’s despairing delusions.

Metaphor Examples in Crime and Punishment:

Part I - Chapter III

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"your bread and butter..."   (Part I - Chapter III)

This idiomatic phrase refers to a job, client, or anything that brings in a steady income. Nastasya tells Raskolnikov that he shouldn't make excuses to not tutor students because it's his sole means of earning money at the moment.

"bird's nest..."   (Part II - Chapter III)

This is another example of Razumihin choosing more playful vocabulary to describe his friend Tolsyakov. Here he uses "bird's nest" to refer to his friend's hair, which described in this way gives the impression that it's rather unkempt and possibly dirty.

"pudding basin..."   (Part II - Chapter III)

Razumihin is having a little linguistic fun with a metaphor for a friend's hat. He calls Tolstyakov's hat a "pudding basin," which is an earthenware or glass bowl used to steam puddings.

"money is sweeter to us than treacle..."   (Part II - Chapter III)

"Treacle" is another word for molasses, a kind of sweet, uncrystallized syrup. Money is not sweet, and so this comparison is helping to show how dear or precious money is to the men, and how badly they need money.

"Practicality goes well shod..."   (Part II - Chapter V)

This is a rather obscure line in translation and in the original Russian, which says "Practicality walks about in boots" (Деловитость в сапогах ходит). Regardless of the actual meaning, it does appear that Razumihin is using this slang expression to emphasize his point that there's no practicality.

"thread his way in...."   (Part II - Chapter V)

Dostoevsky uses this expression to remind the readers of how small and cramped Raskolnikov's garret is. Since the space is very small for only one person, it is very crowded in this moment, and Luzhin has to squeeze his way into the room to find a place to sit.

"The ball is over...."   (Part V - Chapter V)

Katerina Ivanovna uses an interesting and ironic metaphor for her life. A ball refers to a very fancy party, often associated with aristocrats and high-class persons. Her life after her youth was far from this, and given what we know about her weakened psyche, it's unclear whether she is being ironic or somewhat sincere.

"gutter children..."   (Part V - Chapter V)

Since a "gutter" is a low play on a roof or street designed to carry off rainwater, using this word to describe children indicates that they are very low on the social ladder, possibly orphans.

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