Crime and Punishment Questions and Answers
by Fyodor Dostoevsky

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In "Crime and Punishment", by Fyodor Dostoevesky, how does he use water to symbolize purity?

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Water is a recurrent symbol in the novel as a purifying element. This is seen when Raskolnikov goes back to his room and gets all of the stolen goods he has hidden. He plans to throw it all into the canal, but when he gets there, he walks up and down so long that people are beginning to notice him, and he decides not to throw the items in the canal. By throwing the stolen goods in the water, Raskolnikov thinks he can wash away all traces of his crime. He feels the water can wash away the blood stains, much as Lady Macbeth feels when she can't get the blood off her hands. Raskolnikov wanting to remove all physical evidence of his crime symbolizes his inner desire to cleanse his soul and his guilty conscience of the crime. Previously, Raskolnikov dreams of drinking clear,...

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