Crime and Punishment Questions and Answers
by Fyodor Dostoevsky

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What is the significance of the setting in Crime and Punishment?

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Most of the action in Crime and Punishment takes place in St. Petersburg, at that time the capital city of Russia. The city had been founded by Tsar Peter the Great with the express intention of emulating the Europeans. He brought in some of Europe's finest artists, engineers, and architects to construct a whole new city from scratch, one that would show to the world that Russia was a civilized country that could now take its rightful place among the international community of nations.

As with all cities, however, St. Petersburg had its dark underbelly of crime, poverty, and disease. And it's this seamy underside of the gilded capital that Dostoyevsky explores in minute, unerring detail. St. Petersburg stands almost as a metaphor for humanity. On the surface, all appears calm and civilized. But not far beneath lies a different world, a world in which darkness prevails. Raskolnikov's tortured psychological state mirrors the grim reality of the poor and underprivileged and their daily...

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