Summary (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
In Crime and Punishment, Dostoevski treats the problem of crime and the criminal mentality. He is not interested in the social aspects of criminal behavior, and there is little said in the novel about the legalities of crime. Dostoevski has an interior view of criminality, a conviction that crime and its inevitable punishment are deeply seated aspects of the human spirit.
Raskolnikov (the novel’s hero) is presented from the inside. The reader knows what he did before knowing why he did it, and the story is told as a gradual revelation of the hero’s motives. That accounts for the uncanny suspense of the first several chapters: The reader continually searches for the reason that Raskolnikov has murdered the pawnbroker. Intertwined with the reader’s suspense is the slowly dawning realization that Raskolnikov himself does not know his motive. This “double suspense” creates a dense texture that gives the novel its complexity, a complexity laid over the relative simplicity of the plot.
As the novel progresses, Raskolnikov’s possible motives become ever more bizarre. The consistent notion behind his behavior is revealed in his confession to the innocent prostitute, Sonia, after the crime, when he blurts out that he did it because he only wanted to see if he could go beyond a normal person’s revulsion against such an act. This admission seems to suggest that Raskolnikov is an egotist, a self-styled superman who wants to see if...
(The entire section is 1018 words.)
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Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Rodion Raskolnikov, an impoverished student in St. Petersburg, dreams of committing the perfect crime. He murders an old widowed pawnbroker and her stepsister with an ax and steals some jewelry from their flat. Back in his room, Raskolnikov receives a summons from the police. Weak from hunger and illness, he prepares to make a full confession. The police, however, call merely to ask him to pay a debt his landlady reported to them. When he discovers what they want, he collapses from relief. Upon being revived, he is questioned; his answers provoke suspicion.
Raskolnikov hides the jewelry under a rock in a courtyard. He returns to his room, where he remains for four days in a high fever. When he recovers, he learns that the authorities visited him while he was delirious and that he said things during his fever that tended to cast further suspicion on him.
Luzhin, betrothed to Raskolnikov’s sister Dounia, comes to St. Petersburg from the provinces to prepare for the wedding. Raskolnikov resents Luzhin because he knows his sister is marrying to provide money for Raskolnikov. Luzhin visits the convalescent and leaves in a rage when the young man makes no attempt to hide his dislike for him.
A sudden calm comes upon the young murderer; he goes out and reads the accounts of the murders in the papers. While he is reading, a detective joins him. The student, in a high pitch of excitement caused by his crime and by his sickness, talks too...
(The entire section is 1032 words.)
Part 1 Summary
As the novel Crime and Punishment begins, an impoverished student named Rodion Raskolnikov sets out to visit a pawnbroker in a poor section of St. Petersburg, the Russian capital. This visit serves as a trial run for a sinister mission: Raskolnikov plans to murder and rob the old woman. After the visit, Raskolnikov feels miserable, so he stops at a tavern for a drink. There he meets a drunk named Marmeladov who tells him how his daughter Sonya became a prostitute to support her family. Raskolnikov helps Marmeladov home, and he is touched by the pitiful scene of poverty he sees there. After leaving the family some money, he returns to his cramped room.
The next day, Raskolnikov receives a letter from his mother. She informs him that Raskolnikov's sister Dunya is set to marry a bachelor named Luzhin. Raskolnikov realizes that his mother and sister are counting on Luzhin to give Raskolnikov financial assistance after the wedding. As he sees it, Dunya is sacrificing herself for her brother, a sacrifice that reminds him of Sonya's prostitution. He berates himself for his passivity. Soon afterwards, he falls asleep, and he dreams of watching a peasant beat an overburdened horse to death. When he awakens, he articulates for the first time his plan to kill the pawnbroker with an axe. Hearing that the pawnbroker's sister would be away from their apartment the next evening, he realizes that the time to execute his plan has arrived. The murder itself does not...
(The entire section is 300 words.)
Part 2 Summary
During the next few days, Raskolnikov alternates between lucidity and delirium. He feels torn between an impulse to confess his crime and an impulse to resist arrest. He begins a game of cat-and-mouse with the examining magistrate, Porfiry Petrovich. Porfiry has read an article written by Raskolnikov in which Raskolnikov expounds the theory that a few select individuals may have the right to commit crimes if they think it necessary to attain special goals. Raskolnikov now explains his theory to Porfiry, beginning with the idea that there are two categories of people in the world—the masses and the elite.
The first group, that is the material, are, generally speaking, by nature staid and conservative, they live in obedience and like it. In my opinion they ought to obey because that is their destiny, and there is nothing at all degrading to them in it. The second group are all law-breakers and transgressors, or are inclined that way, in the measure of their capacities. The aims of these people are, of course, relative and very diverse, for the most part they require, in widely different contexts, the destruction of what exists in the name of better things. But if it is necessary for one of them, for the fulfillment of his ideas, to march over corpses, or wade through blood, then in my opinion he may in all conscience authorize himself to wade through blood—in proportion, however, to his idea and the degree of its importance—mark that....
(The entire section is 1008 words.)
The novel's epilogue focuses on Raskolnikov's experiences as a convict in Siberia. Raskolnikov initially feels a deep sense of alienation from his fellow prisoners. During Lent and Easter, he falls ill, and he has a strange dream in which everyone in the world becomes infected with a disease that causes each person to believe that he or she is the sole bearer of truth. The deluded people kill each other, and the world heads toward total collapse. After recuperating from his illness, Raskolnikov walks to a riverbank and gazes at the landscape. Sonya appears at his side. Suddenly, Raskolnikov is seized with an entirely new sensation of love and compassion. Both he and Sonya realize that something profound has occurred within his soul. Love has raised him from the dead, and he will become a new man. Dostoyevsky concludes his novel by stating that the story of Raskolnikov's regeneration might be the subject of a new tale, but that the present one has ended.
(The entire section is 164 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 1 Summary
It is an exceptionally hot July evening, and a young man is at the bottom of the stairs after having left his garret room. He is thankful not to have met his landlady on the staircase. Though he is “hopelessly in debt” to the woman, he wants to avoid her for other reasons. He is not a coward, nor is he ashamed; however, lately he has been in an irritable, over-strained condition, which has caused him to be completely self-absorbed and isolated. In this state, he dreads meeting anyone at all. He is crushed by poverty and has stopped doing anything of practical importance; rather than have to spend his energy making up excuses, he does his best simply to avoid his landlady.
This evening as he leaves his house, his fears descend on him. He is exceptionally weak, and his ideas are in a tangle because he has not eaten for two days. The Petersburg stench is all around him, and the sights and sounds of this part of town make a picture of “revolting misery.” He smiles at himself for being frightened at trifles when he is contemplating “a thing like that.” He has spent days closeted in his room, thinking about Jack the Giant-killer and wonders if it is that serious and if he is really capable of such a thing. Finally he tells himself it is just a fantasy, something to amuse himself.
He is an exceptionally handsome man, but he is so shabbily dressed that even a man accustomed to shabbiness would have been embarrassed at his appearance tonight. In this part of town, however, nothing is too surprising or out of place. Just as he thinks that, a drunken man laughs and points at his tall round hat, and all is nearly ruined. The man is not ashamed, but a sudden terror strikes him: The slightest trifle can ruin his plan. He must be as inconspicuous as possible if his plan is to work. Trifles matter, and trifles can ruin anything.
He has considered every detail of this hideous plan for the past month, and now he has decided to rehearse the plan as he has dreamed it so many times. He knows exactly how far it is to the house and what he will find when he gets there. Unnoticed, he slips by the men at the door and climbs up the narrow, dark back staircase. Already frightened, he wonders what he would feel if he were really going to do it.
On the fourth floor of the huge house, some movers are emptying an apartment; that is even better, as it leaves only the old woman as a tenant on that floor. With...
(The entire section is 788 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 2 Summary
Though he generally avoids crowds, even more so of late, Raskolnikov suddenly has a desire to be with other people. Something new is happening inside him, and with it comes a thirst for company. After a month of his own wretchedness, he is glad to be somewhere else—even in this awful tavern.
Often a chance meeting with a stranger is interesting even before it happens, and that is the impression Raskolnikov has about the man who appears to be a retired government clerk sitting some distance away from him. Afterwards, he will recall this feeling, even calling it a presentiment. Though he clearly disdains everyone else in the room, the middle-aged man is staring persistently at Raskolnikov, as if he wants to engage in a conversation. His face is yellowish-green from too much drinking, but his eyes are glittering with something like madness.
The man is dirty and unkempt, a fitting patron for this tavern, yet there is a slight air of respectability about him, too. He rumples his hair and drops his head dejectedly into his hands as he sits at the sticky table. Finally he looks directly at Raskolnikov and asks him if he would like to engage in a conversation. His unexpectedly grandiloquent vocabulary and style surprise Raskolnikov, as does being addressed so directly. Just as a moment before he was in the mood for conversation, now Raskolnikov feels his habitual aversion to being approached by strangers.
The drunken man introduces himself as Marmeladov as he staggers over to Raskolnikov’s table. When asked, the younger man introduces himself as a student, and the older man boasts of spending the last five nights on a hay barge; Raskolnikov has no trouble believing it, for the man is filthy and covered in bits of hay. Marmeladov rants about the nobility of poverty as opposed to beggary, and as he speaks, the other people in the room begin to gather near to hear the “funny fellow” speak.
He eloquently laments the troubles he has had, including the facts that his moneylender beat up Marmeladov’s wife because she spoke disrespectfully to him and that his daughter has a yellow passport. All his troubles are shameful, but the men at the bar already know his story. He asks Raskolnikov to tell him honestly if he can deny that Marmeladov seems to be a pig, but Raskolnikov does not answer. The drunken orator goes on to talk about the true nobility of his wife; though she has consistently abused him, she is...
(The entire section is 1048 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 3 Summary
Raskolnikov wakes up late after a broken, unrefreshing sleep and looks with hatred at his tiny, poverty-stricken room. For the past two weeks, he has been like a turtle in its shell; his landlady has stopped sending up his meals, so he has gone without eating. The servant girl, Nastaysa, is pleased with his attitude, for she has not had to clean his room, other than wandering in once a week or so. Today she brings him some weak, stale tea with yellowed sugar cubes, and Raskolnikov asks her to get him some bread and cheap sausage. She brings him some of yesterday’s cabbage soup which she had saved for him.
Nastaysa sits by him as he eats, chatting about all manner of things, including the fact that his landlady intends to complain to the police about him for not paying the rent and then not leaving. She wonders why he no longer goes out and tutors children as he used to. Raskolnikov assures her he is working: He is thinking. He laments that he cannot go out without proper boots and lessons pay so little, in any case. Nastaysa asks if he expects to get a fortune all at once. Raskolnikov looks at her strangely and tells her he does, indeed, want a fortune. As she leaves to get the bread, the servant remembers he has received a letter. It is from his mother. He shoos the woman out so that he can read it in private.
It has been a long time since he has heard from his dear mother, and Raskolnikov kisses the envelope before he opens the letter. It is long, relating all the news for the past few months. His mother apologizes that she is not sending him any money, like last time—money she borrowed against her pension and has just managed to repay. She tells of her daughter’s horrible circumstances, all the while asking Raskolnikov’s forgiveness for not telling him about them sooner; she knows he would have been mortified and would have wanted to come home, but it would only have ruined his own life worrying about them.
Dounia went to work as a governess and took an advance on her pay to send her brother the money he so badly needed and requested. Unfortunately, shortly after she began her job, the master of the house surprisingly confessed his love for the much younger woman and implored her to go away and live with him. Because she still owed him the money she had sent Raskolnikov, she was not free to leave for six weeks and had to endure the man’s persistent efforts to persuade her to go with him....
(The entire section is 1046 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 4 Summary
His mother’s letter was torturous for Raskolnikov. As he walks the streets like a crazy, drunken man, he determines one thing: Even if they think it is all arranged, his sister will not marry Luzhin. He understands what this man must be like by his mother’s use of seems: He seems kind, he seems sensible, and he seems impressive. The reason his mother says she will not go to live with her daughter and her new husband is that she knows Luzhin does not want her. Furthermore, Raskolnikov is incensed that this man is sending a cart for the women’s luggage but allows the women themselves to ride in a crude peasant cart at their own expense. His mother tries to soften the realities, but Raskolnikov perceives the truth and will not allow his sister to ruin her life for his sake.
The burden is heavy for Raskolnikov because he understands and loves his sister. She is a strong young woman who can (in fact, already has) endured some horrible things, things she would never tolerate on her own behalf but is willing to endure for another. Dounia adores him, and Raskolnikov knows that she is willing to endure a loveless, parsimonious, and probably even cruel marriage for his benefit. She sees this move as something she must do in order to promote Raskolnikov’s career and secure his future happiness. Dounia would never sell her soul for her own benefit and comfort, but she is willing to sell herself for his.
It is clear to Rodion Romanovitch Raskolnikov that he is the central figure in this drama, and though his mother has doubts, she is willing to sacrifice her daughter for her adored firstborn. As he walks and thinks, Raskolnikov makes the comparison between Sonia, the young girl forced to sell herself to support her family, and Dounia, who is willing to endure a lifetime of misery for his sake. He concludes that he will not allow either his mother or his sister to make this sacrifice, as long as he is alive to stop it.
He suddenly stops walking and asks himself what he can realistically do to stop the marriage, since he has been living on their money and accomplishing nothing with his life. Raskolnikov tortures himself with these thoughts, finding a kind of enjoyment in them. In truth, these are old thoughts; this present anguish began long, long ago and has coalesced and grown strong until he now wonders if he should continue living and what it means when there is “absolutely...
(The entire section is 1173 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 5 Summary
Even as Raskolnikov walks to find his colleague Razumihin, he wonders how the unemployed former student will be able to help Raskolnikov obtain some lessons in his current condition; even if he does get some work, Raskolnikov knows a few coins will not come close to meeting his needs. These thoughts are disturbing to him, and he suddenly decides not to visit Razumihin until “[i]t is done.” Then he can start over, and everything will “begin afresh.”
The thought is shocking to Raskolnikov when he suddenly realizes what he is thinking. At the frantic thought, he takes off running and wonders if “It” will really happen. The thought of going back to his “awful little cupboard” of a home is now abhorrent to him, and he begins to walk. He shivers, even in the heat; he tries to find something to distract his mind from these thoughts but is unable to do so. He begins wandering aimlessly. Soon he is in a part of town which does not stink and is, in fact, quite lovely. He looks at his surroundings with disdain. Raskolnikov spends his remaining few coins on some vodka and a meat pie. Though he drank only a very little, he suddenly finds himself extraordinarily sleepy; he stops behind some bushes, instantly falls asleep, and has a fearful dream.
Raskolnikov is a young boy walking with his father through the village in which Raskolnikov grew up. As they pass the tavern on their way to the church graveyard, young Raskolnikov is frightened by the boisterous revelers. As a boy, Raskolnikov loved the old-fashioned church and the old priest who presided over services. Near his grandmother’s grave is the grave of his younger brother who had died at six months of age, something Raskolnikov does not remember. Just as they are passing the tavern, some large, drunken patrons leave the bar and go to a cart being pulled by an overstrained horse, the kind who is not able to pull her heavy load and will be beaten mercilessly for not doing her job.
After dismissing the others’ protests, the owner of the cart encourages all his passengers to gather a whip so that they can help spur the nag to a gallop—something she has not been able to do for years. Six large men and one woman are in the cart, and the horse is barely able to move it. That does not stop the riders from mercilessly beating the horse. As the abuse continues and even worsens, Raskolnikov the boy is appalled; he asks his father why the horse is being...
(The entire section is 1038 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 6 Summary
Raskolnikov has become superstitious and tends to see things strange and mysterious in the coincidences of his life. A fellow student had recommended the old pawnbroker Alyona Ivanovna to him, knowing he was in need of money. Raskolnikov had two items of value to pawn and thought of her much later; he went to see her six weeks ago and found her to be an ugly and unpleasant woman. After that meeting, however, a strange idea began to haunt him.
After he left her, Raskolnikov went to a tavern, and there he heard someone talking about the old lady, relaying details about her habits and money. More importantly, Raskolnikov hears all about the step-sister, Lizaveta, who is horribly abused by the old woman. Lizaveta is thirty-five, extraordinarily tall, and backward in nearly every way. She is almost always with child, and many people find her to be a clean, kind woman with a pretty face. When her sister dies, Lizaveta will inherit nothing except the few pieces of furniture; the rest will be given to a monastery so the selfish Alyona Ivanovna will have someone praying for her in perpetuity.
The conversation Raskolnikov overheard moved next to a most disturbing topic: that the murder of one horrible old hag would allow so many benevolent things to be done with her money that the sin of her killing would be far outweighed by the benefits. This was a shocking thing for Raskolnikov to hear after his own strange idea. This trivial and accidental conversation had a great impact on his later action.
Now, when he returns home after his day away, Raskolnikov sleeps dreamlessly on the couch until Nastasya wakes him, with great effort, at ten o’clock the next morning. At first he is drowsy and stupefied, but after he eats and sleeps a more restful sleep, he wakes up with a start to realize that it is evening and has done nothing to prepare his plan. Now he is feverish in his haste and makes the necessary preparations.
First he makes a kind of sling and sews it into the lining of his overcoat; he especially designed it and it is unnoticeable once it is hidden, as is the axe he will slip into it. When his hand is in his pocket, no one will see that he is gripping an axe. The next thing he prepares is the pledge, a fake item to pawn which will divert the old pawnbroker’s attention as she unwraps and unwinds it. Downstairs he hears someone shout that it is much after six and Raskolnikov panics. Even now, he thinks of...
(The entire section is 700 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 7 Summary
The door is opened a tiny crack. When Raskolnikov sees a pair of suspicious eyes peering through it, he nearly makes a great mistake. He grabs the door handle and pulls it toward him so she cannot close it on him, and he nearly drags her into the hallway with him. He enters the room uninvited, and the old pawnbroker looks distrustfully at his eyes rather than examining the pledge he brought her to pawn.
Raskolnikov thinks he sees a kind of sneer in her eyes, as if she can see everything in his eyes. He feels so frightened that if she had continued to look at him in such a way for another thirty seconds he would have run away from her. Instead he turns on her and maliciously threatens to take his business away; this prods the old woman into action. He tells her the pledge is a silver cigarette case, and the woman is puzzled about why it is so tightly wrapped. When she walks away for a moment, Raskolnikov makes his move and, almost against his will, bashes the woman in the head with the blunt side of the axe. When she cries out feebly and crumples to the floor, he hits her again and again until she is dead.
He takes the keys from her pocket, assiduously avoiding getting any blood on himself, and goes immediately to her bedroom. The room makes him shudder and he is tempted to just walk away, but he does not. As he is wrestling with the drawer and the lock, he panics and wonders if perhaps the woman is not really dead. He goes back to the body and is reassured that she could not possibly be alive with her skull cracked open; while he is there, he sees a string around the old woman’s neck. In his efforts to retrieve what turns out to be a coin purse full of coins and several crosses, Raskolnikov gets his hands covered with her blood. He keeps the purse and flings the crosses back down on the body, then he grabs the axe and runs back into the bedroom.
None of the keys fits the bureau drawer, so he looks around nervously for something else. Under the bed he finds a chest, and in it are hidden various pieces of gold jewelry that he pockets after wiping his hands on some red silk in the box (thinking blood would be less noticeable on it). He hears a faint sound in the other room and hurriedly grabs his things. A he runs toward the door, he sees Lizaveta “gaping in stupefaction” at her step-sister’s bloodied body, a big bundle of something in her arms.
Raskolnikov rushes at her with an axe, but the...
(The entire section is 728 words.)
Part 2, Chapter 1 Summary
After a long while, Raskolnikov wakes from his recent oblivion, sitting up with a start as the memory of what he has done washes over him. Violently shivering, he discovers he had not even latched his door when he came home and now tries to discern if his clothes bear any trace of the murder. His efforts are ineffectual, so he takes off his clothes and finds only a few drops of congealed blood “clinging to the frayed edge of his trousers.” He cuts them off and then remembers the purse and the trinkets still in his pockets.
Raskolnikov empties his pockets and hides the loot in the wall behind some loose wallpaper. He remembers the sling in his overcoat used to hold the axe and cuts it up before wondering if he is, indeed, going crazy and his clothes are actually covered with blood he simply cannot see. When he looks at the inside of one pocket, he discovers bloodstains and immediately cuts it out of the pants.
Now that the sun is shining into the room, he sees blood all over his clothing and does not know what to do with the offending bits which he cuts off. Raskolnikov falls asleep again until he hears Nastasya and the porter talking loudly outside his door. They have come to deliver a summons from the police office. Nastasya laughs derisively at Raskolnikov when she notices that he had fallen asleep with bits of rag clutched in his hand. She believes he is unwell, but both she and the porter leave Raskolnikov alone.
He discovers the summons is quite ordinary, though he does wonder at the timing of its delivery. He begins to dress, putting on one bloody sock with loathing and then shaking with fear that this is some kind of elaborate trap to lure him into the police station. He leaves the stolen goods in the wall and goes to the station in a feverish state. There he is directed to the head clerk and soon gains courage and confidence at the ordinariness of his treatment.
A woman, Luise Ivanovna, is in front of the assistant superintendent because of some apparent disgraceful behavior the night before; but the woman calmly explains that any bad behavior originated from one of her patrons, an “ungentlemanly visitor,” for she keeps an “honorable house.” Ilya Petrovitch, the assistant superintendent, scolds her but lets her go with a stern warning that he will be watching her and her business.
Raskolnikov is accused of not paying his debt to his landlady; suddenly he is incensed at...
(The entire section is 688 words.)
Part 2, Chapter 2 Summary
Despite his fears, no one is in Raskolnikov’s apartment or has searched it while he was gone. He tucks the trinkets in his one remaining trouser pocket and grabs the purse full of coins before leaving his apartment, door open behind him. He is most afraid of being pursued and knows he must hide all traces of the murder before he is found. Raskolnikov walks to the river and intends to throw the trinkets into the water, but he is afraid someone will see or that the boxes might float and be discovered. The Neva, he thinks, will be a better place to dispose of the goods.
Raskolnikov finds a deserted, fenced-off area filled with rubbish and lifts a large rock before dumping the stolen items into a hollow underneath it. He replaces the rock and makes sure it looks undisturbed. As he walks back to the square, Raskolnikov is overwhelmed with euphoria and is certain he will never be caught. When he arrives at the place where he found the drunken girl, he sobers immediately and asks himself why, if the murder was a deliberate act rather than an “idiotic” one, had he never even bothered to see how many coins were in the purse. His dire need for money was the justification for debasing himself by committing murder, but he finally decides he did this because he is very ill.
He walks without resting and feels loathing for everything he sees. Suddenly Raskolnikov finds he is at his friend Razumihin’s house but he does not know if he walked there consciously. He visits Razumihin in his fifth-floor room; Raskolnikov has not seen him for four months and he shows up unwashed and unkempt. Razumihin notices immediately that his visitor is ill, perhaps even delirious.
Raskolnikov is furious at having to be sociable and rises to leave, but Razumihin physically stops him. Raskolnikov explains that he thought his friend might be able to help him, but he knows now that he can do nothing. After explaining the translation work he has been doing, Razumihin offers Raskolnikov a chance to work, too. Raskolnikov silently takes the sheets of a German manuscript and some money; however, as soon as he reaches the street he retraces his steps and returns both items, again without speaking. Razumihin shouts after him, but his friend just keeps walking.
In a daze, Raskolnikov nearly gets run over by a carriage, and bystanders assume he is either drunk or a professional accident man, trying to dupe innocent people for money. As he...
(The entire section is 667 words.)
Part 2, Chapter 3 Summary
During the entire time he is ill, Raskolnikov is sometimes feverish, sometimes, delirious, and sometimes half-conscious. Part of the time he feels as if there are several people around him, squabbling over him and discussing what should be done with him; other times he is alone. He hears them laughing at and mocking him, but he also senses they are afraid of him and do not quite know how to handle him. Mostly he senses Nastasya and a familiar-seeming man spending time at his bedside. In this condition, he is completely unaware of how much time has passed, but he is clearly tormented and raging strongly enough about something that he has to be restrained.
At ten o’clock, it happens. Light is streaming into the room and Nastasya and a complete stranger are standing at his bedside. The landlady peeks around the half-opened door; when Raskolnikov sits straight up and asks who the stranger is, she leaves, confident her tenant has returned to his senses.
Just as Raskolnikov asks the stranger who he is, Razumihin enters the room, introducing himself as Vrazumihin (his true name), a student, gentleman, and friend of Raskolnikov’s. He tells his sick friend that he has had the doctor here, and his conclusion was that some nervous condition has caused this illness. The stranger introduces himself as the messenger of a local merchant who has business with Raskolnikov; he is the second messenger from the same merchant. Several days ago, Razumihin sent the first one away. The messenger has come to deliver thirty-five roubles sent, through the merchant, from his mother.
All Raskolnikov has to do is sign for the money, but he refuses until Razumihin prepares to hold his hand and make him sign. Razumihin keeps ten of the thirty-five roubles, saying he will account for them later. He orders food and seems to be in perfect control of everything, which frightens Raskolnikov, but he simply watches quietly as Nastasya carries out his orders. Like a starving man, Razumihin consumes the hearty soup and tells his friend he has been dining like this for days, courtesy of Pashenka the landlady who is happy to provide without his asking for it.
Raskolnikov allows his friend to coddle him and, out of some primitive cunning, decides to hide his true strength and his recovered mental facilities so he can observe and assess everything that is going on around him now. He has clean sheets and nice pillows, he notices, and his...
(The entire section is 647 words.)
Part 2, Chapter 4 Summary
Zossimov is a huge, haughty doctor who presents himself well; even his friends think he is tedious, but they all agree he does his work well. When he is solicitous and asks how Raskolnikov is feeling, the sick man answers tersely before turning away. As the two men talk (while Nastasya listens from the doorway) about inconsequential things, Raskolnikov examines the flowers on the dingy wallpaper. Soon their conversation turns to something meaningful for him: the old pawnbroker’s murder.
Immediately after the incident, the two men who saw the body first were the primary suspects. Now the painter is the chief suspect and Razumihin tells the story. Three days after the murder, the authorities were still trying to pin the crime on Koch and Pestryakov when an unexpected fact became known. A peasant named Dushkin, who keeps a shop facing the house where the murders occurred, brought a jeweler’s case with some gold earrings to the police station and told a rather far-fetched story.
Dushkin claims a housepainter named Nikolay, who was working in the house with a man named Dmitri, brought him the box of stones and asked two roubles for them, claiming he simply picked them up in the street. Dushkin gave him one rouble, figuring the painter would sell the goods to someone to get drinking money, so it may as well be him. He immediately took the money and went to the tavern for a few drinks. When Razumihin heard about the murders he suspected the painter and tried to find Nikolay, but Dmitri told him Nikolay had gone off on a drinking spree and had to finish the painting job alone.
On the third day after the murders, Razumihin saw Nikolay in a drunken state and asked him where he got the earrings. Nikolay claimed again that he found them in the street, but he would not maintain eye contact. When he asked if Nikolay had heard about the murders, the painter said he had heard nothing; but when Razumihin offered to buy him a drink, Nikolay took off running. This confirmed Razumihin’s suspicions and the search began. Both Dmitri and Dushkin were arrested immediately, and Nikolay was finally apprehended the day before yesterday as he was attempting to hang himself. The police questioned him mercilessly, and Nikolay finally confessed to having found the box of jewelry behind the door of the apartment he was painting.
At these words, Raskolnikov sits up in obvious distress, staring at the wall with a blank gaze of...
(The entire section is 635 words.)
Part 2, Chapter 5 Summary
The gentleman is “no longer young,” rather portly, with a stiff and sour countenance. He hesitates after he walks in, as if the apartment is somehow offensive to the pompous man. First he stares at Raskolnikov, lying disheveled and unwashed on his sofa; then his gaze turns to the unkempt and unshaven Razumihin, who stares boldly back at the unknown man. A constrained silence lasts for several moments, and the stranger changes his approach when he realizes who he must deal with. He is civil as he carefully articulates his words and directs his first question toward Zossimov, asking if he is Raskolnikov.
Razumihin points out that the man he seeks is lying on the couch. Raskolnikov has turned away from the wall and stares at his visitor with silent intensity. His cadaverous face looks full of anguish, as if he has just been tortured and left for dead. Soon, though, Raskolnikov feels some wonder, followed by suspicion and finally alarm. Quickly he jumps up and, with a weak but defiant voice, affirms his identity and asks what the stranger wants.
The man announces himself as Pyotr Petrovitch Luzhin and says he thinks he may be expected. Raskolnikov had anticipated something different and he once again fades into a haze of insensibility, acting as if he had never heard the name before now. After another awkward silence, Luzhin shows his dismay and asks if Raskolnikov received a letter; Razumihin hastily interrupts and asks the visitor to enter and sit.
Luzhin relaxes a bit and explains that his future mother-in-law was supposed to have sent her son a letter of explanation about him. Raskolnikov finally speaks, observing with great vexation that he must be the fiancé. The visitor is clearly offended at the remark and the tone, but he stays silent. Raskolnikov raises his head from his pillow to consider the man whom he finds displeasing, though it is clear that the man has used his few days in the city to dress nicely and make himself most presentable for his upcoming wedding. He looks younger than forty-five, but Raskolnikov is not impressed and drops his head back onto the pillow.
After another strained silence, Luzhin announces that he is expecting Raskolnikov’s sister and mother and has arranged rooms for them in a nearby boarding house; when he mentions the name of the house, Razumihin notes that it is a cheap, filthy building. Luzhin insists the rooms he rented are clean and,...
(The entire section is 723 words.)
Part 2, Chapter 6 Summary
As soon as everyone leaves, Raskolnikov dresses, pockets the money his mother sent him, and sneaks out of the building. It is eight o’clock in the evening; though he is weak, he is also quite calm. He has only one thought: this must all be over today. He is determined that everything must change. He interacts with several strangers and frightens them; as he continues his aimless walking, he enjoys the sounds of revelry and is propositioned by a prostitute.
Raskolnikov finally enters a restaurant and asks for newspapers from the past five days and some tea. As he is reading about the murders, he is joined by Zametov, the head clerk, rather flushed from drinking champagne. He tells Raskolnikov that he came to see him while he was sick and is surprised to see him out tonight. Raskolnikov acts strangely and talks in riddles the clerk cannot comprehend; he finally announces euphorically that he came to this place deliberately to read the articles about the murders.
Zametov is puzzled and grows even more confused when Raskolnikov begins to laugh maniacally for no apparent reason. He tells the sick man that either he is crazy or....Suddenly an appalling idea occurs to him. Raskolnikov goads him to speak what he is thinking, but Zametov refuses. After calming himself, Raskolnikov is able to talk more reasonably, and the two men discuss how foolish criminals can be. Soon the conversation moves to the old pawnbroker’s murder and Zametov posits that her murderer was a foolish, desperate fellow who was so clumsy he did not even rob the old woman after killing her.
Raskolnikov is offended and asks why, if the killer was so foolish, he is still at large. Zametov assures him the killer will be caught because such criminals always give themselves away. Raskolnikov whispers what he would do after such a crime, and he proceeds to tell Zametov exactly what he did do, hiding the loot so he can collect it several years from now. Zametov says Raskolnikov is a madman, but the confession continues; Raskolnikov now asks what would happen if he himself was the one who killed the old woman and Lizaveta.
Zametov’s reaction is explosive. He looks at Raskolnikov wildly and denies that it could be true. Raskolnikov pays the bill and shows him a fistful of roubles, asking how a man wearing rags just the other day now has new clothes and money to spare. As he leaves the restaurant, Raskolnikov meets...
(The entire section is 776 words.)
Part 2, Chapter 7 Summary
The elegant, empty carriage is stopped in the middle of the road; the distraught coachman stands nearby and the police stand in front of it. A crowd has gathered as one of the policemen holds a lantern over something lying on the ground, close to the wheels. While everyone laments the tragedy, Raskolnikov pushes his way closer to the scene until he espies a poorly dressed man, bloody and mangled, lying on the ground.
The man was evidently drunk and the coachman, who was driving at a reasonable pace, tried to shout at the man to watch out; however, the unheeding man fell directly under the horses’ hooves. Either the man was drunk or the act was deliberate, the crowd agrees. The coachman is upset because someone important is waiting for him to bring the carriage, and he wants the badly injured man to be taken away quickly.
No one knows who he is until Raskolnikov gets closer and sees the man’s face. It is Marmeladov, who lives close by. Raskolnikov is violently agitated and offers to pay if someone will take the man immediately home. The house is only thirty yards away and some people decide to help Raskolnikov carry Marmeladov. Inside, Katerina Ivanovna is coughing and pacing, as she always does in her free moments, as she prepares to lecture her children once more about their duties. The children are literally in rags as they listen to their mother talk about the life they used to have and cursing what their lives have become. It is a familiar rant but the children listen attentively. Suddenly Katerina Ivanovna notices the crowd in the hallway outside and Marmeladov’s family is terrified as they see the unconscious man being dragged to their couch. Raskolnikov tries to calm the family and announces that the man will come to and he will pay for a doctor.
Katerina Ivanovna does not panic and sends her oldest daughter, Polenka, to get Marmeladov’s daughter, Sonia. The room is now full of people and even the one remaining policeman is unable to herd them out; finally Katerina Ivanovna rages at the crowd to stop gawking and let the man die in peace. It is an impressive display of outrage, interspersed with coughing, and her reproach is effective as the crowd begins to recede. The imposing German landlady arrives to restore order and demands that the man be taken to the hospital. Katerina Ivanovna adopts a haughty demeanor with the landlady, reminding her that she was once a princess, but nonetheless begs the...
(The entire section is 783 words.)
Part 3, Chapter 1 Summary
Raskolnikov recovers and sits on the couch, waving off Razumihin’s help. He takes his mother’s and sister’s hands and simply looks at both women without speaking for several minutes. His mother is distraught, for she sees something like insanity in his eyes. Finally he begs them to go home with Razumihin and he will see them again tomorrow; however, his mother refuses to leave.
Raskolnikov starts to get agitated and Razumihin quickly offers to stay with his friend so the women will be free to leave. Now Raskolnikov demands that they all leave him alone, and his sister Dounia convinces her mother to leave the room, at least, to avoid upsetting her brother even further. Suddenly Raskolnikov commands them to stay, asking if they have seen Luzhin since their arrival.
They have not seen the man, though he knows they have arrived. When his mother mentions the meeting he had with Luzhin, Raskolnikov tells Dounia he promised to throw the man down the stairs and condemned him to hell. She waits attentively to see what her brother will say next, not as surprised as she might have been if Nastasya had not already told them about the meeting.
Raskolnikov tells his sister that he does not approve of the man or the marriage and insists that she break off the engagement at the first opportunity so they can all be rid of Luzhin. When the women try to calm him and make excuses that he is sick, Raskolnikov tells his sister harshly that he will not allow her to marry Luzhin for his sake; he will not accept her sacrifice. Dounia is offended and asks what right he has to demand such a thing but her mother interrupts and says they should cease and talk again in the morning.
Razumihin confirms that the two men argued and Dounia coaxes her mother to leave. Raskolnikov makes one last effort to make his point; he tells Dounia he will not have a sister who would do such a thing and says she must choose Luzhin or him before turning his face to the wall, exhausted. Dounia gives Razumihin a piercing look which startles him, but Pulcheria Alexandrovna refuses to leave her son. Razumihin tells her that even he and the doctor were forced to leave him alone that afternoon because he was too agitated by their presence.
Outside on the landing, Razumihin pleads his case for them to leave and go to their own lodging, accompanied by his vice-like gripping of their hands. While both women are grateful for this man’s...
(The entire section is 729 words.)
Part 3, Chapter 2 Summary
Razumihin wakes up at eight o’clock in the morning feeling troubled and serious. He remembers every detail of the previous day and knows he has never before been struck with love as he was yesterday. It is an unattainable dream, and he is mortified at his base behavior in front of Dounia and her mother. Not only was he drunk but he had attacked Dounia’s fiancé out of his “stupid jealousy.” He had no right to criticize Luzhin, and because he knows Dounia would never marry an unworthy man for money, Razumihin believes there must be something worthy in the man that he had failed to see. He had been a drunken, noisy braggart, and today he regrets it.
He takes special care with his clothing and cleanliness although he knows it will do no good, for all is already lost. Zossimov prepares to leave and recommends that no one disturb Raskolnikov. He reassures Razumihin that the idea that Raskolnikov is somehow connected to the murders—even in his own mind—is ridiculous. Both men wonder why their friend is so set against his sister’s marrying Luzhin.
Razumihin arrives at the ladies’ rooms at precisely nine o’clock and finds the women waiting with nervous impatience and gratitude rather than the hostility he had anticipated. Razumihin spends nearly an hour telling them everything he knows about Raskolnikov’s last few years of life—omitting his recent experiences at the police station. What he tells them is not enough to satisfy them, so the women begin to ask questions.
Pulcheria Alexandrovna wants to know her son’s hopes and dreams, his likes and dislikes, how he views things and what influences his life. She had not expected to see her son in such a state after a three-year’s absence. Razumihin assures her that everyone changes over time. He tells her Raskolnikov is morose, gloomy, proud, and haughty; for some time he has also been fanciful and suspicious. Although Raskolnikov has a noble nature and a kind heart, he would rather do a cruel deed than open his heart freely. He is a paradox, and sometimes he claims he is too busy but cannot move from his bed to do anything. He does not listen to anything people say to him or care about the things that matter to his friends. In short, Raskolnikov thinks quite highly of himself, and perhaps he is right.
In the course of their conversation, Razumihin observes that Dounia is much like her brother and says so, much to his embarrassment. They...
(The entire section is 828 words.)
Part 3, Chapter 3 Summary
Zossimov greets them and announces that Raskolnikov is quite well today. Although he is up and dressed better than he has been for months, Raskolnikov still looks “pale, listless, and somber.” His eyes light up for a moment when he sees them, but that only relieves his listless dejection temporarily. He still only speaks reluctantly and perfunctorily. The doctor marvels at his patient’s self-control and ability to hide his feelings when yesterday he had “fallen into a frenzy at the slightest word.”
Raskolnikov assures his family that he is feeling much better; Zossimov adds that his complete recovery depends solely on himself. He must avoid the fundamental causes of his illness. Zossimov suggests that this condition probably began when he dropped out of school. Raskolnikov must never be left with too much idle time; a steady occupation of some kind would certainly be beneficial.
Raskolnikov agrees with his doctor’s advice, saying he will return to school and everything will be better; Zossimov is shocked to see the mockery in Raskolnikov’s face, though it only lasts for a moment. Pulcheria Alexandrovna expresses her thanks to the doctor; Raskolnikov does the same, adding that he both cannot pay him and does not understand why he is getting such specialized attention. Dounia can see that there is no trace of sentimentality when Raskolnikov talks. When Raskolnikov apologizes to his mother for worrying her and holds out his hand to his sister, Dounia sees a flash of unfeigned emotion in his smile. She feels overjoyed and thankful.
Raskolnikov apologizes stiffly for worrying them and for not coming to see them earlier this morning. He explains that he had to wait until Nastasya washed the blood out of his clothes. The women are shocked, but he explains that he discovered a wounded man last night in his delirium. Razumihin remarks that he remembers every detail so he could not have been delirious. Raskolnikov agrees, saying it he only cannot explain his reason for being where he was. Zossimov explains that it is quite typical for a madman to perform actions meticulously while his motivations for those actions are dependent on various morbid and deranged impressions.
Raskolnikov explains that the man he helped died, and he did a rash thing by giving his widow all the money his mother had sent him. He knows how much it cost her, and he asks her forgiveness. A long silence follows, and everyone...
(The entire section is 741 words.)
Part 3, Chapter 4 Summary
Suddenly the door opens softly, and a pretty but poor girl walks into the room and looks timidly around her. It is Sonia, Marmeladov’s daughter, but Raskolnikov does not recognize her at first, as she is dressed as any other poor girl and he had only seen her once. Seeing everyone gathered, the girl is about to retreat when Raskolnikov collects himself and finds her a seat, and she stammers out a request from her mother that he attend the funeral tomorrow before she rises to leave again. Asking her to stay, Raskolnikov introduces her to his mother and sister and the girl is even more embarrassed at the attention.
Sonia again asks him, as a favor to her mother, to attend the funeral in the morning and come afterwards to a simple funeral meal. Katerina Ivanovna expresses her thankfulness, for without his generosity there would have been no funeral at all. Sonia’s chin quivers slightly as she speaks, clearly grieving at her loss. When she looks around the room, Raskolnikov apologizes for its condition; however, she cannot believe that he obviously has so little yet he gave them everything yesterday. Everyone in the room is moved by this girl’s simple, truthful speaking.
Pulcheria Alexandrovna invites Raskolnikov and Razumihin to join her and Dounia for dinner; her son says he will join them shortly. Once they leave, Raskolnikov says the dead are at peace but the living still have to live, and Sonia is surprised at the sudden brightness in his face. He looks at her silently for several moments, and her father’s whole history floats before his memory.
Pulcheria Alexandrovna is relieved to leave her son’s room but scolds Dounia for being so much like her brother: melancholy, morose, hot-tempered, haughty, and generous. She is worried about Luzhin walking away after the meeting tonight, and Dounia says he is not worth much if he does leave. Pulcheria Alexandrovna is also worried about Sonia, for she had a presentiment that somehow this girl is the cause of all her son’s troubles. Dounia tells her she is being ridiculous and Luzhin is a slanderer for writing that this girl is a woman of low reputation.
Raskolnikov asks Razumihin if he will talk to his friend, Porfiry Petrovitch, who is head of the old pawnbroker’s murder investigation; he had pawned several inexpensive family heirlooms and is worried now that his mother will want to see them. Razumihin is ecstatic and says they should go see...
(The entire section is 657 words.)
Part 3, Chapter 5 Summary
Raskolnikov cannot stop laughing at Razumihin’s embarrassment, even when they enter the room to meet Porfiry Petrovitch. Raskolnikov notices Zametov sitting in a corner, an unpleasant discovery. Razumihin finally recovers himself and introduces his two friends, and Petrovitch listens to Raskolnikov’s request regarding his pawned items.
Petrovitch listens intently and then tells Raskolnikov he must write a request for his items, saying that he knows about the murder and wants to claim his property. Raskolnikov gets the impression that Petrovitch is amused at his naiveté and then comes to the awful conclusion that the man must know the truth. He continues talking, trying to sound “normal” as he explains his mother’s arrival and his desire to retrieve his possessions.
Petrovitch suddenly turns cold and says he has been expecting Raskolnikov for some time, and Razumihin is stunned to know that Petrovitch was aware of the pawned items, and he says so. Petrovitch addresses himself to Raskolnikov, describing exactly his pawned items, and Raskolnikov does his best to respond normally and make eye contact; however, he is not particularly successful. Petrovitch knows because Raskolnikov is the only person who had pledges with the old lady who did not come forward after the murder.
Raskolnikov explains that he has been ill; Petrovitch says he heard Raskolnikov has been greatly distressed about something, and he still looks pale. Now Raskolnikov is getting angry and struggling to hide it; he must regain control so he will not betray himself. Razumihin confirms his friend’s delirium and explains that Raskolnikov slipped out in that condition last night; however, suddenly he turns on his friend and asks why he left and whether he was in his right mind when he left. Raskolnikov claims he was “sick” of his family and took his money to go find other lodgings. Then he asks Zametov if he thinks Raskolnikov was in his right mind when he saw him last night.
Zametov gives him a direct look of hatred and claims Raskolnikov seemed quite sensible and even artful in his conversation. Raskolnikov’s thoughts are “in a whirl” and he cannot determine whether they have been tracking his moves and know the truth or whether he is imagining their knowing looks. Either way, he regrets coming here. The men discuss the socialist theory of crime, that all crime is simply a “protest against the abnormality of the...
(The entire section is 820 words.)
Part 3, Chapter 6 Summary
Razumihin is still incredulous that Raskolnikov could hold such views about men and murder, and he is confused and excited to finally be talking openly about it. Raskolnikov believes that if the authorities really had any hard evidence, they would not have been baiting him for information and trying to trick him with psychological games as Petrovitch had just done.
Razumihin agrees, listing the coincidences which seem to be working against Raskolnikov: he is a poor student, “unhinged by poverty and hypochondria” and on the verge of a severe delirious illness, who has been a recluse for six months and is wearing rags and is faced with an unexpected debt at the crowded police station where all the talk is of murder—and all on an empty stomach. Anyone in those circumstances might have acted outrageously and seemed guilty. Razumihin understands the trap the authorities are trying to set for his friend, asking if he saw the painters during the fateful hour in which the old pawnbroker was murdered. Raskolnikov suggests that clever people are usually caught by simple things.
As they reach the entrance to his mother’s boarding house for dinner, Raskolnikov feels a steadily increasing uneasiness and asks his friend to tell his family he will return in half an hour and storms off toward his lodgings. When Raskolnikov arrives at his apartment, he is sweaty and out of breath. He closes the latch behind him and goes immediately to the hole behind the wallpaper where he had hidden the stolen goods. He feels around but does not find anything and is relieved. He panics again as he imagines there may be some small bit of evidence dropped somewhere in his apartment that would conclusively link him to the old pawnbroker’s murder and goes back to his home.
The porter is standing at the door and pointing him out to a short stranger who looks like an oddly dressed artisan. Raskolnikov asks the strange man his name, but the man just slowly and deliberately looks at him before walking away. Raskolnikov runs after the strange man and then walks behind him for some time after overtaking him. Finally he moves on a level with the man and they walk silently for a moment before Raskolnikov asks him quietly why he was looking for him. Both are silent for a moment until Raskolnikov repeats the question. Suddenly the stranger gives him a sinister look and exclaims “Murderer!” in a clear, distinct voice. Raskolnikov is...
(The entire section is 806 words.)
Part 4, Chapter 1 Summary
The man sitting next to Raskolnikov is Arkady Ivanovitch Svidrigailov, his sister’s former employer, and Raskolnikov looks at him carefully and suspiciously. Svidrigailov tells him he came for two reasons: first, he has heard interesting and flattering things about him and wanted to meet him, and second, he wants to enlist Raskolnikov’s help to assist Dounia, since she is unlikely to accept his help on her own.
At Raskolnikov’s hostile reaction, Svidrigailov does not feel the need to justify himself but asks Raskolnikov what, specifically, he did that was so wrong. He fell in love with Dounia and asked her to elope with him, and that does not make him a monster. His reason became slave to his passion, and it could be argued that he was actually the most damaged victim in the unfortunate episode. Raskolnikov remains unmoved and asks the man to leave, but that does not deter Svidrigailov from making his case.
Raskolnikov accuses him of killing his wife, but Svidrigailov assures him that the medical inquiry was completely proper and in order. He has been lately thinking that perhaps he did somehow contribute morally to his wife’s calamity; however, he has come to the conclusion that he was in no way to blame for Marfa Petrovna’s death. He only beat her with a switch twice in their seven-year marriage, once shortly before her death, but Svidrigailov insists she enjoyed the insult.
This conversation is repugnant to Raskolnikov, but he sees that this is a man of fixed purpose. He suggests that his visitor must be bored, and Svidrigailov admits that is true, especially in the past three days. He observes frankly that Raskolnikov seems to be “somehow awfully strange,” sick in some way, and not just now but generally speaking. Raskolnikov gloomily admits that his visitor knows how to act like a man of good breeding when he chooses but wonders why Svidrigailov needs him, as he must have many connections.
Svidrigailov has seen some friends, but he is not interested in his former pursuits. (He was a card-sharp who ended up in prison for a debt of seventy thousand roubles; Marfa Petrovna bought his debt for thirty thousand and took him with her to the country, where they married and lived ever since.) He was a good manager of their country estate and now misses his wife. Svidrigailov asks Raskolnikov if he believes in ghosts, admitting that Mara Petrovna has visited him three...
(The entire section is 758 words.)
Part 4, Chapter 2 Summary
At eight o’clock, Raskolnikov and Razumihin hurry to the boarding house so they will arrive before Luzhin. Raskolnikov explains who Svidrigailov is and says they must protect Dounia from him; then he asks Razumihin if he is sure he saw Svidrigailov, for something in him still wonders if it was all part of his delirious dreaming. Perhaps he is mad and everything that has happened to him in the past few days has all been some kind of hallucination. Razumihin assures him that the man was real and asks what Svidrigailov wanted, but Raskolnikov remains silent.
Razumihin tells Raskolnikov that after dinner with the two women he went to see Petrovitch, and Zametov was still with him. Though he tried to explain Raskolnikov’s innocence to them, they could not and would not understand him. Even when he took Petrovitch aside to talk, the man refused to do anything but just look at him. Razumihin realizes he must just let events unfold, and when Raskolnikov is proven to be innocent of the old pawnbroker’s murder, he and Raskolnikov will enjoy a hearty laugh at their expense. Until that moment, Raskolnikov never once thought about what Razumihin would think when he discovers the truth. They meet Luzhin in the hallway, and all three walk together silently into the apartment. Dounia greets her guests graciously, but Luzhin still has not composed himself after seeing the other two men.
Luzhin considers walking deliberately away as he had promised when he sees the other two men in order to punish the women; however, he does not like uncertainty and he must learn what is behind this willful disobedience. Better to learn the cause now and punish them, as was his right, later. The conversation is stilted, for Luzhin is one of those men who observes punctilious politeness until he is crossed; then he becomes more like a “sack of flour” than an elegant gentleman. Finally Pulcheria Alexandrovna says Marfa Petrovna is dead, giving Luzhin the opportunity to vilify Svidrigailov for her murder, among many other crimes, including driving two people to suicide by his ill treatment of them.
Dounia does not believe any of it and defends her former employer, despite his previous nefarious designs on her. Luzhin is convinced that Marfa Petrovna did not leave her husband any significant money; if she had, he would even now be spending it on his former disreputable pursuits. Dounia asks Luzhin to stop talking about it when suddenly...
(The entire section is 789 words.)
Part 4, Chapter 3 Summary
Until the moment he was asked to leave, Luzhin had never imagined that the meeting would end this way. In his conceit and vanity, he had been certain he could manipulate and control the two defenseless and destitute women. His self-admiration has grown into foolishness as he believes his money has made him an equal to everyone who had been his superiors.
He had just insinuated that perhaps all the malicious gossip about Dounia was true, though when he made her the offer of marriage he was well aware that the gossip was groundless. Despite that, he still looked at his offer as being benevolent and his raising her to his level as heroic. He had called on Raskolnikov expecting to be flattered and had left feeling “undeservedly injured and unrecognized.”
Having Dounia is essential to his happiness. He has long dreamed of being married but had amassed money instead. His vision of a subservient wife who is dependent on him and humbled by his accomplishment is perfected in Dounia; she is even more than he had ever hoped for, for she is also a woman of great education and fine character. Along with this personal accomplishment, he has planned to advance his career by coming to Petersburg to “try his fortune.” He is well aware that having the right woman would be a significant advantage in this endeavor, and now all his hopes are in ruins. Luzhin determines that all must be set right tomorrow. He must first “crush that conceited milksop who was the cause of it all.” He gives a passing thought to Razumihin but dismisses him as too inferior to think about; he knows his real threat is Svidrigailov.
Back in the little apartment there is much relief. Dounia takes responsibility for sending Luzhin away, admitting that she really did not know until now what a base man he is. Pulcheria Alexandrovna is surprised at how relieved she feels, and Razumihin is in a feverish excitement, feeling as if a giant weight has fallen off his heart. Raskolnikov, who had been the most adamant about ending the match, is sullen and indifferent.
Dounia asks Raskolnikov what Svidrigailov wanted from him, and he told her the man wants to give her ten thousand roubles and meet with her one time in Raskolnikov’s presence. He relates their conversation (minus the talk of ghosts) and says Svidrigailov’s infatuation with her has passed. Raskolnikov does not understand it all, since the man wants to give her money though he is...
(The entire section is 795 words.)
Part 4, Chapter 4 Summary
Raskolnikov walks directly to Sonia‘s lodgings and climbs the dark stairway; as he is wandering in the dark trying to find the tailor’s apartment, a door swings open. It is Sonia, and she is both embarrassed and pleased to see him. She takes him to her room, a large, dark, odd-shaped attic room with the unmistakable signs of poverty. It is after eleven o’clock, and Raskolnikov tells her this is the last time he shall see her, that he may not be at her father’s funeral but has something to say to her now.
He knows all about her life from what her father told him; he knows about the tailor’s family with whom she boards, and he knows she leaves between six and nine o’clock every evening. Sonia is pale and thin, and she whispers that she saw her father as she was walking the street today as she was trying to get to Katerina Ivanovna’s. Raskolnikov asks if the woman used to beat her; Sonia denies it and says she loves the woman. Though “her mind is unhinged” and she is like a child now, she was once clever, generous, and kind. And even if she did beat her, Katerina Ivanovna is pure, righteous, and good.
Raskolnikov asks what will happen now, since her family will now be dependent solely on her. Katerina vacillates between violent despair and grand dreams of moving back to her native town and opening a boarding school for the daughters of gentlemen. The rather crazed woman has built all her hopes on Raskolnikov, and Sonia feels remorse for all the times lately that she has caused her to cry. Raskolnikov says perhaps it would be best if the consumptive woman died. The idea of caring for all the children is obviously a frightening one for Sonia; the thought of the children ending up homeless and motherless is an even worse thought.
Raskolnikov paces the room and assumes that since Sonia cannot save anything she earns and, by her own embarrassed admission does not earn money every day, Polenka will also end up selling herself to support her family. Sonia is horrified at the thought, and Raskolnikov’s eyes are piercing and feverish. Suddenly he bows down and kisses her foot; he is bowing to all the suffering of humanity. They sit, and he explains that she is, indeed, a sinful woman, but only because she has destroyed and betrayed herself for nothing. She must be desperate, knowing that her sins are helping no one; it might be better and wiser for her to kill herself.
(The entire section is 767 words.)
Part 4, Chapter 5 Summary
At eleven o’clock the next morning, Raskolnikov arrives at the department of the investigation of criminal causes and sends word to Porfiry Petrovitch that he is here. Raskolnikov is surprised that he is kept waiting for more than ten minutes before being ushered into Petrovitch’s study. No one at the station seems to have any idea that there is a murderer in the building, as their actions are normal in every way. Petrovitch closes the door and they talk genially until a sudden awkwardness falls over the older man.
Raskolnikov begins to grow suspicious and both men watch each other but look away as soon as their eyes meet. He hands Petrovitch the paper requesting his pawned goods and Petrovitch takes it hastily. Raskolnikov reminds Petrovitch that yesterday he mentioned interviewing him formally, but Petrovitch says there is plenty of time and offers him a cigar as they talk about inconsequential things. This prompts Raskolnikov to anger and he incautiously issues a kind of challenge.
He asks Petrovitch if it is true that all investigating lawyers are taught to speak of inconsequential things at the beginning of their “attack” so as to disarm those they are questioning. Petrovitch answers in the affirmative and with an unmistakable wink as he asks if that is what Raskolnikov thinks he is doing now. He is laughing in Raskolnikov’s face, uncaring that he is making his visitor quite angry. Feeling as if he has somehow fallen into a trap, Raskolnikov says he is busy and if Petrovitch does have some questions for him, he should ask them now for he must go to a funeral. Suddenly he is angry and shouts at the investigator either to question him now, and in the proper way, or let him go at once.
Petrovitch stops laughing, says he sees Raskolnikov only as a guest, and apologizes for laughing; it is simply something he does when people amuse him with their wit. As he flits about the room, Petrovitch talks aimlessly about many things, including his agreement that the primary strategy for a formal interrogation is, indeed, to disarm the suspect by talking about meaningless things. He laughs again as he explains that as a law student, Raskolnikov must surely understand that when Petrovitch suspect a man of committing a crime he sometimes does not arrest him immediately because that gives the man “moral support.” If a man is incarcerated too soon, Petrovitch will not be able to gather any further evidence from...
(The entire section is 804 words.)
Part 4, Chapter 6 Summary
Later, Raskolnikov remembers the scene this way: the noise behind Petrovitch’s door increases until suddenly the door is slightly opened. Petrovitch says he gave orders and this is too soon, but there is silence and it is clear several people are trying to keep someone from entering. Someone says it is the prisoner Nikolay and Petrovitch is angry and wants the man taken away immediately. After a two-second struggle, Nikolay shoves himself into the room. The man has a determined gleam in his eyes though he sees nothing; that and his deathly pallor make it seem as if he is a man headed for the gallows.
A crowd has gathered at the doorway, and an extremely annoyed Petrovitch warns them away, saying they have brought the prisoner too soon. Nikolay suddenly drops to the floor and confesses to the murders of the old pawnbroker and her sister Lizabeta. Petrovitch waves his hand and the spectators instantly vanish; then he looks at Raskolnikov, standing in the corner and staring wildly at the prisoner. Petrovitch looks at them both and finally moves to Nikolay and begins questioning him about the specifics of the murders.
Nikolay’s answers are weak and rather contradictory because, of course, he did not commit the murders—and Petrovitch knows almost immediately that “it is not his own tale he is telling.” Suddenly remembering Raskolnikov, Petrovitch tells him he must leave. Raskolnikov says this is finally good-bye, but Petrovitch says that is in God’s hands and is still playing the wit with Raskolnikov. He heard Petrovitch tell Nikolay that he was not telling his own tale, and Raskolnikov says there must be many amusing moments ahead for Petrovitch as he questions the prisoner.
Raskolnikov walks straight home and is still so amazed that he sits for fifteen minutes just trying to collect his thoughts. Raskolnikov is stupefied at Nikolay’s confession and thinks the man must be under tremendous strain to confess to a crime he did not commit. Until the lie is discovered, Raskolnikov is free to do something for himself, though the danger is imminent. After just a little more time spent with Petrovitch, Raskolnikov knows he would probably have given himself away completely. Though he has been compromised, Raskolnikov is certain there are no facts to connect him to the murders—unless he is mistaken.
Finally he gets up to leave; he has some kind of presentiment that for today, at least, he is safe....
(The entire section is 692 words.)
Part 5, Chapter 1 Summary
The morning after the unpleasant meeting with Dounia and her mother, Luzhin is forced to admit what had seemed impossible only the day before. “The black snake of wounded vanity had been gnawing at his heart all night,” and now he looks in the mirror half expecting to have lost his looks. He has not, so far, and Luzhin is for a moment comforted by the thought that he will be able to attract another bride—perhaps an even better one.
Andrey Semyonovitch Lebeziatnikov, the young friend with whom he is staying, smirks as he watches Luzhin, and Luzhin once again regrets the impulsivity which caused him to tell Lebeziatnikov about the spoiled meeting last night. The rest of Luzhin’s morning is one unpleasantness after another: he has trouble with his case before the Senate, the remodeler of his new apartment is going to get a nearly redecorated apartment at Luzhin’s expense, and the upholsterer refused to return any money paid for the furniture which he no longer needs because he is not getting married.
Thinking of Dounia makes Luzhin regret that he had not spent any money on the things which are important to women. He had intended for them to be dependent upon him for everything, but he knows now that was a serious blunder. Luzhin arrives home even more agitated and angry than when he left, and he has forgotten about the funeral dinner Katerina Ivanovna is hosting for all the boarders in the building. Luzhin is expected to attend, as he is the most prestigious man living there, and he discovers that Raskolnikov is also expected.
Luzhin does not particularly like Lebeziatnikov; in fact, he is somewhat afraid of him. The younger man had been his ward at one time, but he has become a leading young progressive in the nihilism movement so popular in Petersburg. The omniscient circles which despise everyone and act so superior frighten Luzhin; his biggest fear is that he will be “shown up,” which is one of the things which kept him from moving to the city before now. To avoid this, he had determined to connect himself to the “younger generation through Lebeziatnikov, though he quickly discovered the man is a simpleton. Luzhin is not interested in the philosophy; he simply wants to figure out a way to be successful here.
Lebeziatnikov is one of the numerous dullards, “half-animate abortions, conceited, half-educated coxcombs who attach themselves to the idea most in fashion only to vulgarize it...
(The entire section is 825 words.)
Part 5, Chapter 2 Summary
The extravagant funeral meal Katerina Ivanovna hosts is probably a result of several things, including a desire to honor her dead husband, an opportunity for her to show that she is still a refined woman, and her overstrained mind which thinks it is a reasonable thing to do. She has a naturally peace-loving and lively disposition; however, because of the continual failures and disappointments of the past few years, the slightest impediment to her joy nearly throws her into a frenzy.
Now Katerina Ivanovna is upset that none of the important lodgers she invited to the memorial dinner decided to attend; she had invited them simply to show that she is not the kind of woman they think she is. Instead, the table is full of ruffians, drunks, and people in worse condition than she. Though the landlady provided invaluable help in the meal preparations, Katerina Ivanovna assumes it is she who caused all the more noble guests to decline; accordingly, she treats the woman with haughty contempt. It is an inauspicious beginning and a bad omen for the dinner.
Raskolnikov arrives just as the group is returning from the cemetery. Katerina Ivanovna seats him in a place of honor and spends the entire meal ensuring all forms of etiquette are observed while mocking all of her other guests and laughing hysterically at their expense—which inevitably turns into uncontrollable coughing. She scolds Sonia for coming to the table late and seats her next to Raskolnikov. Sonia respectfully explains that Luzhin detained her to talk over some business for her future, an offer to help her family financially. She is shy and does not look at Raskolnikov for the rest of the meal.
Katerina Ivanovna talks loudly about her late husband’s virtues, despite his one great failing, and the other members of the dinner party begin mocking his memory. One man, in particular, derides Marmeladov; he does so as he drinks shot after shot of vodka, and soon the discussion is loud and nearly out of control. Katerina Ivanovna is offended most on behalf of her children, particularly Sonia; and when someone from the other end of the table passes Sonia a plate with two hearts formed out of black bread with arrows piercing them, she denounces whoever did it as “an ass.”
When the landlady relates what she thinks is an amusing anecdote, Katerina Ivanovna mocks her for how she talks, what she says, and how awful she looks when she is offended. Once...
(The entire section is 655 words.)
Part 5, Chapter 3 Summary
When Katrina Ivanovna asks Luzhin to tell her landlady that she has no right to demand payment for rent at this time of grieving, Luzhin denies ever having met her father and says he wants to talk to Sonia. The room laughs at his speech, for their hostess had already assured them that Luzhin was a friend of her father’s; she is stunned at his denial. The clamor subsides at Luzhin’s presence, and Raskolnikov moves silently aside as Luzhin approaches Sonia. Lebeziatnikov has come out of his apartment, as well.
Luzhin apologizes for disrupting the party but is glad to have witnesses for what he is about to say. In a clear, loud voice, Luzhin tells a surprised and alarmed Sonia that after her visit to his room, he discovered that he is missing a hundred-rouble note from his table. He assures her, in front of these witnesses, that if she knows where it is and tells him, nothing more will happen to her. If not, he will be forced to take serious action against her.
Complete silence dominates the room. Sonia seems not to understand what he has just said, and Luzhin persists for her answer. When she faintly claims she did not take the money, Luzhin admonishes her and tells that he brought home a certain sum of money and counted it, putting all but five hundred roubles on the table before asking his friend Lebeziatnikov to call for Sonia. When she arrived, he offered to help her family financially. During their discussion, Sonia was extremely embarrassed and three times got up to leave the room before he called her back to finish their conversation. She had even been in tears, at times. He gave her ten roubles out of kindness and sent her on her way; Lebeziatnikov was a witness to all of this.
Just a few minutes after she left, Lebeziatnikov left, as well. When Luzhin discovered the missing note, he could not suspect his friend, but Sonia’s embarrassment and persistent desire to leave make her the only possible suspect. Luzhin knows that making such a public accusation is a risk in case he has made a false claim, but he cannot overlook it because of Sonia’s “black ingratitude.” If she persists in claiming her innocence, he will be forced to teach her a lesson.
Sonia is terrified but asserts her innocence; when she does, Luzhin asks the landlady to send for the police. The landlady is ecstatic and claims that Sonia must be the thief who has been stealing from her lodgers. At this, Katerina becomes...
(The entire section is 769 words.)
Part 5, Chapter 4 Summary
Raskolnikov feels compelled to go to Sofia and tell her who killed her friend Lizaveta. He does not yet know why he must do so, but the “sense of his impotence before the inevitable” is nearly crushing him. When he arrives, Sofia is obviously waiting for him and immediately thanks him for supporting her.
Raskolnikov tells her the landlady evicted the family and that Katerina Ivanovna has run off into the streets. Of course, Sofia wants to leave immediately, but Raskolnikov wryly assures her that her stepmother will certainly find her, as she has every other time she was in desperate need. When Sonia finally sits, he reminds her that she was not Luzhin’s target this time, but she might have been, and he asks her this question: if Luzhin had been trying to ruin her, thereby ensuring Katerina Ivanovna’s death, and if she had known so before he acted and the decision were in her hands, how would she choose between letting a wicked man live and letting an innocent woman die?
The question is odd and makes Sonia uncomfortable; her only answer is that it is a foolish question and something for God to decide, not her. Sonia wonders whether Raskolnikov came here simply to torture her and cries until he finally speaks; he says he must know the killer very well to know what the police do not know, and Sonia recognizes the horrible truth in his eyes.
The look on Sonia’s face is the same terrified, helpless look he remembers seeing on Lizaveta’s face. Sonia wails helplessly and looks again at his eyes, but there is no doubt. She throws herself at him, distressed at what he has done to himself. Weeping violently, Sonia cries that he must be the most miserable man in the world and impulsively says that from now on, she will go where he goes. When she begins to think about the reality of the murder, she assumes Raskolnikov needed the money for himself or his mother. He did not. Suddenly Sonia is appalled at the idea that the money he gave her stepmother belonged to the old pawnbroker. It did not.
He says he does not even know how much money he took and explains where he buried the stolen items. Sonia once again cries and embraces him, and Raskolnikov realizes that what he wants is for her not to leave him. He tries to explain that he was trying to become Napoleon; however, she does not understand the analogy. In a feverish passion, he explains that he was desperate for money so his mother, sister, and he...
(The entire section is 767 words.)
Part 5, Chapter 5 Summary
Lebeziatnikov says Katrina Ivanovna has gone out of her mind. She finally came back to the boarding house after going in a mad frenzy to her husband’s former chief; she had returned without money and looking as if she had been beaten. Now she is beating her children and is saying they will go live on the streets and make a living by begging.
Lebeziatnikov would have told her more, but Sonia has already grabbed her cloak and hat and rushed out of the house. The two men follow her, and Lebeziatnikov assures Raskolnikov that the woman is insane and wishes she would listen to logic, citing a study that claims a madman can be cured of his madness if he is shown his errors. Raskolnikov is not listening, and when they reach his house, he goes inside, leaving Lebeziatnikov to follow Sonia alone.
Never had Raskolnikov felt so alone. He wonders now why he had felt the need to poison Sonia’s life and determines that he will remain alone and that she shall not visit him in prison. Soon he wonders whether Siberia might be better than anything ahead of him here. Dounia enters his room; she looks silently at him just as he had looked at Sonia yesterday. Dounia sits, but neither of them speaks until she apologizes for coming to see him.
Dounia’s face is full of love for him as she explains that she “knows everything.” Razumihin has explained to her that the police are persecuting him only on the basis of their suspicions, and she is certain that is what is causing his temporary madness. She promises not to tell their mother and assures him they will not hate him for his avoidance of them because of this awful thing. As she leaves, Dounia tells her brother that she is willing to help him if he needs her and that she will always love him. As Dounia is walking out, Raskolnikov tells her that Razumihin is a decent, hardworking fellow capable of love. Dounia worries that this is their final good-bye.
At sunset, Raskolnikov walks the streets, feeling an oppressive hopelessness weigh heavily on him. Lebeziatnikov suddenly appears and tells Raskolnikov that the madwoman took her children and left the boarding house. He and Sonia found them: Katerina Ivanovna was banging on a frying pan, and her children were dancing and crying. A crowd of mockers has gathered around them. There is no doubt the woman is mad, and it is certain the police will arrest her soon. Lebeziatnikov urges Raskolnikov to come, and he does....
(The entire section is 832 words.)
Part 6, Chapter 1 Summary
This is a strange time for Raskolnikov; it is as if a fog has wrapped him in a solitude from which there is no escape. Looking back, he sees this as a time of confusion and even imagined events and people. He is particularly worried about Svidrigailov. From the moment Svidrigailov uttered the menacing words at the time of Katerina Ivanovna’s death, Raskolnikov’s mind seems to have quit working normally. He regrets not having come to an understanding at once with the man rather than simply ignoring the fact that the exchange ever happened, which is what both men have done.
Katerina Ivanovna’s body is still in the coffin as Svidrigailov makes arrangements for the funeral and arranges satisfactory placements for her children. When the two men do talk, Svidrigailov peers intently at Raskolnikov and apologizes for not finding time to converse with him before telling him he looks somewhat disconnected and appears to need some fresh air.
Raskolnikov stays during a requiem service for Katerina Ivanovna. Sonia, who has not spoken to Raskolnikov in two days, now comes to him and takes his hands before resting her head on his shoulder. Raskolnikov can sense no repulsion in her at all, no trace of disgust; he believes this is the “furthest limit of self-abnegation.” He presses her hand and leaves without speaking.
Though he is often alone, Raskolnikov is rarely able to escape to solitude, to feel alone. During these three days, he walks aimlessly and often senses an “uneasy presence” near him. Once he remembers his mother and Dounia in a panic, and he often feels a vague sense that there is something requiring an immediate decision from him. Finally he is home and Nastasya feeds him; it is the day of Katerina Ivanovna’s funeral, and he is glad not to go.
Razumihin finds him eating and not ill, and is obviously troubled and annoyed at his former colleague. He has come to find out, “once for all,” whether Raskolnikov is insane. He tends to believe what most everyone seems to believe—that he is mad—because only a monster or a madman would treat his own mother and sister as Raskolnikov has. Yesterday, his mother, though she was ill, came to see Raskolnikov and waited until she gave up on a son who cares more for others than for his own mother; now she is home with a fever. They had assumed Raskolnikov had been spending all his time with Sonia, so Razumihin went to see her and found...
(The entire section is 798 words.)
Part 6, Chapter 2 Summary
Petrovitch talks for a long time about nothing so as to disarm Raskolnikov. Raskolnikov recognizes the lawyer’s strategy and is disgusted by it. The more he hears, the gloomier Raskolnikov becomes. Finally, Petrovitch says he came to “have it out” with Raskolnikov and that he owes him an explanation; he says this with a touch of sadness, which surprises Raskolnikov. Petrovitch apologizes for their previous encounters and says he treated Raskolnikov unfairly. He had never arranged for the workman to come to his office (though he knows the man told Raskolnikov later that he had), and he never intended for Raskolnikov to grow so agitated. He pushed his psychology theories too far and regrets having upset Raskolnikov during their interview.
Sometimes guilty men make full confessions when they lose all patience, and Petrovitch had hoped that Raskolnikov was of that temperament and would confess something in a frenzy. Since that did not happen, Petrovitch is here to apologize. Despite suffering some misfortunes, Raskolnikov is a proud, imperious, and above all, impatient man, and Petrovitch begs his forgiveness. Now he only wants Raskolnikov to see that he is a man of compassion and sincerity. Raskolnikov feels a rush of alarm, wondering whether the man truly believes he is innocent.
Petrovitch explains that he only came to the erroneous conclusion that Raskolnikov had murdered the old pawnbroker by a series of unconnected bits of evidence. It all started with rumors, and soon there was no suspect but Raskolnikov in Petrovitch’s mind. Then he discovered Raskolnikov’s name on the pawnbroker’s list of clients, read the article Raskolnikov wrote about the right of certain people to kill with impunity, and had Raskolnikov's room searched while he was ill. When none of this got Petrovitch any closer to a confession from Raskolnikov, he and Razumihin started some rumors in hopes of causing the impassioned man to respond—which he did, when he blurted out to Zametov that he killed her.
But now Nikolay the painter has confessed, and all of Petrovitch’s psychological theories have come to naught. Once he simply hoped Raskolnikov would come to visit him. When he did, Raskolnikov was able to explain away nearly every piece of incriminating evidence. He artfully explained what he meant in his article so that everything could be construed two ways, and Petrovitch was frustrated and again had to wait for...
(The entire section is 761 words.)
Part 6, Chapter 3 Summary
Svidrigailov has some hidden power over Raskolnikov and he must find out what it is. His worst fear is that Svidrigailov has spoken with Petrovitch, though he is almost certain that has not happened. Strangely, Raskolnikov has only a vague anxiety about his immediate future, though his mind is weary with “moral fatigue.” He wonders whether any of this is worth doing, but he goes to see Svidrigailov nevertheless, questioning whether it was mere chance that connected him to Sonia. Thinking of Sonia makes him wistful, but he knows he must go either her way or his own, and he has already chosen.
Something sinister about Svidrigailov has been haunting Raskolnikov. The man has discovered his secret and may still have “designs on Dounia.” Now Raskolnikov wonders whether Svidrigailov has gained power over him so he can use it against Dounia as a weapon. This thought torments his dreams, and now that he is on his way to see the man, it enrages him; if this is true, it will transform everything. Raskolnikov might have to confess everything to Dounia, and perhaps even to Razumihin to secure his help in protecting Dounia. Raskolnikov is exhausted with thinking about such things, and he knows only the end: if Svidrigailov is trying to hurt Dounia, Raskolnikov will kill him.
Suddenly Raskolnikov looks around and wonders how he got here, in a place just past the Hay Market. He sees a building in which the entire second story is a tavern. He is shocked to see Svidrigailov sitting at one window, smoking a pipe and silently scrutinizing him, obviously intending to slip away unobserved. Raskolnikov immediately averts his eyes, pretending not to have seen the man but watching him stealthily nonetheless. Like the last time they met, Svidrigailov has a sly smile on his face, and now each man is aware that the other is watching him.
Finally Svidrigailov laughs loudly and tells Raskolnikov to come join him. Already Svidrigailov has made himself at home here; he has assumed a patriarchal attitude toward the tavern staff, though it is a filthy, second-rate saloon. Raskolnikov is not sure why he walked this way or how he managed to find Svidrigailov, but Svidrigailov explains that he had given Raskolnikov this address several times and said he could be found here; though Raskolnikov was ill, even delirious, he must have registered the address subconsciously and made his way here today.
Svidrigailov says he has been...
(The entire section is 659 words.)
Part 6, Chapter 4 Summary
Years ago, Svidrigailov was in debtors' prison for a gambling debt he could not possibly pay, when Marfa Petrovna found him and paid his debt. She was a sensible, honest woman, though completely uneducated; she was also much older than Svidrigailov. In his “swinishness,” Svidrigailov warned this honest and jealous woman that he would not be able to remain faithful to her, and she somehow accepted that brutal honesty as an assurance that he would never deceive her. After many tearful discussions, the two of them entered into a contract in which Svidrigailov had license to pursue other women with her tacit permission, but he was to reveal to her any “great passion” that might happen.
Marfa Petrovna never guessed that her profligate husband was capable of real love. He was surprised that she hired Dounia, for she was a lovely woman in every way; he thinks his wife fell in love with Dounia, as well. Svidrigailov immediately saw the danger and tried to stay away from the new governess. His behavior seemed repellent and gloomy, and Marfa Petrovna scolded him for it at first. She had the awful habit of telling others about her husband’s sins, and Dounia quickly became her new confidante.
After Marfa Petrovna shared “mysterious and interesting” gossip about her husband with her new friend, Dounia took pity on him and wanted to save his soul. Svidrigailov saw that Dounia’s earnestness was going to work in his favor and began to set the trap for her. (Raskolnikov glowers, but Svidrigailov reminds him that nothing came of it in the end.) He has found that the surest way to win a woman to his desires is flattery, and it was beginning to work on Dounia until Marfa Petrovna saw something in his eyes that infuriated her.
The emotional turmoil of that time drove Svidrigailov into a frenzy, and he would have done anything Dounia told him to do—even kill his wife—just to have her. When he ascertained that she was a poor woman, he offered her what money he could gather to entice her to run away with him. Svidrigailov became frantic when Marfa Petrovna contacted the “scoundrelly attorney” Luzhin and almost made a match for Dounia. Raskolnikov’s interest in the story suddenly increases, and he prepares to take advantage of the fact that Svidrigailov has been mindlessly drinking as he talks and is now likely to say more than he ought. He incites Svidrigailov by accusing him of coming to Petersburg to pursue...
(The entire section is 588 words.)
Part 6, Chapter 5 Summary
Raskolnikov follows Svidrigailov because he believes the man still “has designs” on Dounia. Even when Svidrigailov tells him that Sonia is with her three siblings at the orphanage, Raskolnikov insists on following him. Svidrigailov believes that Raskolnikov is suspicious of him only because he has not spoken of the secret he has discovered, but Raskolnikov is not convinced that Svidrigailov knows anything for certain based on what he overheard.
Sonia is gone, so Raskolnikov follows Svidrigailov, who does exactly what he said he was going to do. He goads Raskolnikov by saying he should leave the country if he is worried about having murdered the old woman, but Raskolnikov finally decides his suspicions about his sister and the letter are unfounded and walks away. He does not see that Svidrigailov gets out of his carriage a hundred yards down the road and follows him.
Raskolnikov sinks into deep thought, as he often does when he is out walking, and passes right by his sister as he goes to stand on the bridge. Dounia is dismayed at her brother’s condition, for she has not seen him in this state before now. While she debates whether or not to disturb him, she sees Svidrigailov. He seems to be hiding from her brother but gestures at her to come talk to him, which she does.
He is concerned because Raskolnikov is terribly suspicious about the letter and his intentions toward her. Dounia is frightened but will not be deterred by her fear; she follows Svidrigailov to his boarding house. Sonia is gone, so he shows Dounia the empty room next door to Sonia’s apartment where he spent several hours listening to Raskolnikov talk with Sonia about something awful.
They go back to his room. Dounia is terrified but determined to discover what damning information Svidrigailov has against her brother. She pulls out the letter and demands to know what evidence he has. If it is what she suspects, she tells Svidrigailov that she is well aware of the ridiculous accusations and rumors and wants something concrete if he has it. His evidence is incontrovertible: he heard Raskolnikov confess to Sonia that he murdered the old pawnbroker and her sister and buried the stolen goods, afraid to make use of them.
Dounia is distraught and cannot believe her brother would commit such a senseless act, and Svidrigailov tries to explain Raskolnikov’s theory concerning ordinary humans and superior humans, such as...
(The entire section is 863 words.)
Part 6, Chapter 6 Summary
Svidrigailov spends his evening in disreputable places before making his way home through a storm. In his apartment, he takes his money, tears up several papers, and goes next door to see Sonia. She listens to him timidly but earnestly as he tells her he may be going to America and will probably never see her again. He asks whether she was offered a job while she was at the orphanage today (she blushes) and gives her the receipts for the money he has already paid for her siblings to remain in the orphanage “in case anything happens.”
He then gives her a bond for three thousand roubles, which she does not want to take because she can now earn her own living, but he insists she accept it and tell no one of it. He warns her that the life she has been living is a bad one. Sonia tells him she is grateful for all he has done for her family, but she will not need it. Svidrigailov insists she will want it soon, for Raskolnikov will soon end up either with a bullet to the head or in prison for murder. Sonia is stunned, but he assures her he knows the secret but will not tell. If Raskolnikov goes to Siberia, he knows she will follow, so she is to think of it as money for Raskolnikov. Plus, he had heard her promise to repay her family’s debt to their former landlady, something she was under no obligation to do.
Before leaving, Svidrigailov asks her to give his regards to Raskolnikov and suggests she take the bonds to Razumihin for safekeeping tomorrow—or when the time comes. Sonia longs to ask questions but refrains, and Svidrigailov walks out into the storm. Later, it will be discovered that Svidrigailov made another “eccentric and unexpected” stop late that night in the rain. He went to the home of his betrothed, eventually explained that he would be gone for a time, and presented her with a gift of fifteen thousand roubles. He kisses the innocent girl good-bye and is saddened at the knowledge that her careful mother would never give her the money; the family is amazed at their connection to such a generous and gracious, if eccentric, man.
At exactly midnight, Svidrigailov walks back over the bridge and finds a hotel. He takes a tiny room at the end of a dark hall and orders tea and dinner. He hears a thunderous voice in the room next door and peeps through a crack in the wall to see a big man thumping his chest and berating a smaller man for being poor and depraved. The object of reproach does not seem...
(The entire section is 786 words.)
Part 6, Chapter 7 Summary
At seven o’clock that evening, Raskolnikov is walking to see his mother and sister. His steps are lagging, as if he is hesitating, but nothing will dissuade him now that he is determined to talk to them. He looks appalling; in the past twenty-four hours, he has experienced fatigue, exposure, and inner turmoil, and last night he slept outside somewhere.
Dounia is out, but his mother answers the door and is surprised and pleased to see her son. Pulcheria Alexandrovna is full of questions but tells Raskolnikov she will not ask him anything, for she has learned that things are different here in Petersburg and has read his article, brought to her by Razumihin, for the third time. She now knows that her son is a learned man who thinks great thoughts, and she should not bother him with her questions or worries.
Raskolnikov asks to see the article, and he feels a temporary thrill when, at the age of twenty-three, he sees his name in print. After he reads the first few lines, however, all his anguish about the past few months flows over him, and he throws the magazine down in disgust. His mother continues making excuses for his deplorable lifestyle, claiming he must certainly be among the greatest intellectuals of the day and not mad, as some have asserted. Even Dounia had started to believe in his insanity.
Dounia is not here; she seems to have her secrets, and Pulcheria Alexandrovna does not ask her about them. She is now content that her son has come to see her and understands that he has important things to do and think about; she will be content with whatever time he is able to give her. Raskolnikov stops her outpouring of love and acceptance and asks whether she would continue to love him as she does now, no matter what she hears about him. Pulcheria Alexandrovna assures him she would never listen to or believe anyone who said such things.
Raskolnikov is passionate when he tells his mother that he has always loved her, no matter how things might have seemed to her lately. She hugs him and says she has been feeling as if there is some great tragedy in store for him, which is why he has been so miserable. When Raskolnikov confirms that he is going away, his mother offers to go with him and offers Dounia and Sonia, as well. If he must leave, Razumihin will help keep them together until he returns. Raskolnikov begs her to pray for him and falls at her feet, weeping. Pulcheria Alexandrovna is not...
(The entire section is 799 words.)
Part 6, Chapter 8 Summary
It is after dark when Raskolnikov arrives at Sonia’s room, and she has been waiting for him all day. She and Dounia enjoyed the fellowship of a shared grief, and Dounia is comforted to know that her brother will not be alone. He confided in Sonia for confession and for human fellowship, and Sonia will go with him wherever fate will send him. Each woman privately admires the other, but when they separate, each woman is filled with despair.
Sonia is staring intently out the window when Raskolnikov arrives, but she quickly hides her joy when she looks carefully at his face. He has come for the cross she promised him. He tells her he is most angry about having to answer foolish questions put to him by foolish men, and he may avoid Petrovitch altogether when he turns himself in to the authorities. Raskolnikov is pacing and trembling, and he barely knows what he is doing.
Sonia takes the two crosses, one wooden and one copper, and makes the sign of the cross over herself and him before placing the wooden cross around Raskolnikov’s neck. It is a symbol of his taking up his cross. Sonia is weeping and asks him to cross himself and say at least one prayer. As he crosses himself several times, Sonia places her shawl over his shoulders, and Raskolnikov is afraid she intends to go with him to the police.
When he leaves, Raskolnikov does not say good-bye to Sonia as she stands in the middle of her room; he has already forgotten about her. As he walks, Raskolnikov scolds himself for going to see Sonia and admits he simply wanted her tears—something he could hold on to in the days to come. He walks along the canal and near the bridge; he wants to remember it now so that when the prison van takes him over it, he will have these memories.
In the middle of the square, he remembers Sonia’s advice: kneel down and kiss the ground, for you have sinned against the people. That is just what he does, amid the jeers and taunts of the crowd. When he finally rises and makes his way to the police station, he realizes Sonia has followed him. Now he knows she will be with him forever. He is near the station and walks up the filthy stairwell to the third story.
The office is silent and empty when he arrives, and Raskolnikov believes it is fate that the man he sees first is the explosive lieutenant, Ilya Petrovitch. The man is apologetic for his behavior when Raskolnikov was last here and wonders how he can help...
(The entire section is 717 words.)
Epilogue, Chapter 1 Summary
In Siberia, on the banks of a river, is a town in which there is a fortress. Inside the fortress is a prison, and inside the prison is Raskolnikov. He has been there for nine months, and it has been a year and a half since the murders. The trial had been simple and straightforward, for Raskolnikov told the court everything and never wavered from his original statement. He gave every detail he was asked for, including where the stolen trinkets were located. The court was most stunned by the realization that Raskolnikov knew virtually nothing about and never made use of anything he stole.
The court deduced that Raskolnikov suffered from some kind of mental derangement at the time of the murders—“a homicidal derangement without object or the pursuit of gain.” It was the most fashionable theory of the day in Russia, and Raskolnikov’s certified hypochondriacal tendencies helped point to the conclusion that he was not an ordinary criminal. When asked why he committed his crime, Raskolnikov answered simply that it was his miserable condition, his poverty, and his helplessness that compelled him to seek money through such despicable means. The only thing that made him confess was his “heartfelt repentance.”
His sentence was more merciful than expected. Raskolnikov was, indeed, living in depraved conditions at the time of the murder; that he did not try to mitigate his guilt in any way, that he must have been deranged to leave the door open so Lizaveta could discover him, the false confession of the painter Nikolay, and the fact that there was no evidence against Nikolay aside from his confession were all factors in the lenient sentence. In addition, Razumihin proved that his former colleague had performed at least one extraordinary act of compassion, and Raskolnikov’s landlady testified (corroborated by several witnesses) that he had once saved two young children from a burning building. As a result of these facts, Raskolnikov was condemned to “penal servitude in the second class” for eight years.
During the trial, Pulcheria Alexandrovna became ill with a kind of delusion. When Dounia returned from seeing her brother for the last time, her mother had already invented an elaborate story in which Raskolnikov had to leave to escape his many enemies, who were jealous of his brilliant literary talent. She never asked why she did not hear from her son; it soon became evident that Pulcheria Alexandrovna was...
(The entire section is 785 words.)
Epilogue, Chapter 2 Summary
Raskolnikov is ill for a long time. His conditions have not made him sick, for the hard work, bad food, and other hardships of prison life are all endurable. His wounded pride made him ill. He is not ashamed to let Sonia see his shaved head and his fetters; he is ashamed that after stringent self-examination, he discovers no terrible fault in his past. The entire episode was merely a blunder, and he is ashamed only because he stupidly allowed himself to submit to this punishment after some decree of blind fate caused him to confess.
Now he has nothing for which to live; his continual sacrifice will lead to nothing. It is no comfort to him that he will be free, at the age of thirty-two, to pursue whatever life he chooses. He had been ready before to give up his life for the sake of an idea, a hope, or even a fancy; he had always wanted more. Raskolnikov wishes now that fate would have sent him repentance of the fiercest, deepest kind; but he feels no repentance.
He thinks about others in history who have committed horrible acts and were not punished; they succeeded and so they were right; Raskolnikov did not succeed, so he had no right to take the actions he did. It is his only admission of criminal guilt. He also wonders why he had not killed himself like Svidrigailov; perhaps his will to live is so strong that he cannot overcome it. Instead of realizing that he must have inherently recognized the falseness of his convictions and his hope for the future, Raskolnikov sees his inability to act as evidence of his weakness and baseness.
Eventually he begins to feel the chasm that exists between him and his fellow prisoners. He is disliked and avoided by everyone, and soon they begin to hate him. In the second week of Lent, it is his group’s turn to take the sacrament, and suddenly the entire group turns on him, calling him an infidel who should be killed, though he had never once spoken of his faith. Raskolnikov did not say a word or fight back in any way; if the guards had not intervened, there would have been bloodshed.
Raskolnikov wonders why everyone adores Sonia. She has never shown any of the other prisoners particular favor, but over time, she becomes messenger, confidante, and unattainable lady to them and their families. This adoration and respect borders on reverence. Raskolnikov is in the hospital for weeks and suffers from delirium. Sonia is able to visit him only twice in that...
(The entire section is 851 words.)