Crime and Punishment Summary

Crime and Punishment summary

In Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov kills a pawnbroker for no apparent reason. Over time, it's revealed that Raskolnikov did it to see if he could overcome the revulsion others feel at this act. Only later does he realize the cruelty of this.

  • After the murder of a pawnbroker and her stepsister, Raskolnikov prepares to make a full confession to the police, but realizes that they only want to talk to him about money that he owes his landlady.

  • Plagued by guilt, Raskolnikov confesses his crime to a prostitute, Sonia, admitting that he committed the crime just to see if he could. He believes that the crime destroyed him.

  • Raskolnikov truly confesses this time and gets sentenced to eight years in Siberia. Sonia follows him, moving to a village outside the camp. Thanks to her love, Raskolnikov is able to begin his recovery.


(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical 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 he can get away with transgressing the law. The reader comes to find, however, that Raskolnikov’s impulses go more deeply than that: Raskolnikov wants to see if he can overstep the limits of evil itself, if he can exert ultimate power over another person. That is what the murder means to him.

Dostoevski’s brilliant unfolding of Raskolnikov’s deepest motive really begins after the confession to Sonia. Before this point in the novel, the reader is puzzled by a welter of seemingly conflicting evidence about the hero’s personality. Raskolnikov says he does not believe in God and that there is no arbiter of absolute good and evil. Yet he is numb with self-doubt. In spite of his logical decision to commit murder, he is troubled and hesitant. His horrible dream of the peasants beating a horse to death causes him to awake trembling at the very thought that he himself might be so cruel. As he later walks along the banks of the Neva, his obsession with committing an evil act alternates with a loathing for the very idea. Then, after the deed has been done, something curious occurs that turns out to be the key to understanding his true motive and the rest of the novel. It becomes clear that Raskolnikov’s response to having committed murder is merely puzzlement. In other words, he shows neither remorse nor joy. He realizes that he feels the same way that he has always felt.

Finally, the reader understands that the loathsome criminality of Raskolnikov’s motive lies in its amorality. He had decided to murder the old woman pawnbroker on strictly logical grounds, but the unease that he continues to feel is not a guilty conscience stemming from a too-strict logicality. Had he murdered for money or out of anger and then been caught, his punishment would have been easier than that which comes to gnaw at him. Having made a cold-blooded sociopathic decision to assert himself at the expense of another’s very identity, he finds his feelings locked into the conventional morality that his intellect so despises. He is thus caught in an emotional vacuum, the most inescapable kind of punishment. Raskolnikov has murdered an old woman, but the inability to have an authentically strong feeling about it has murdered him spiritually. In a dream, he tries to kill her repeatedly, slicing at her skull with an ax, but as he looks closely into her face he can see her laughing horribly. Raskolnikov has really killed himself with the ax of cold-blooded self-assertion. He has no clearly definable motive because he is a sociopathic personality.

In the end of the story, Dostoevski makes clear how problematic such a personality is for society. Once again, the author’s meaning is revealed in a dream sequence. Raskolnikov is ill in Siberia and dreams that he and the rest of the world have been devastated by an infestation of highly intelligent germs. The infestation causes insanity. The infected believe themselves to be logical, scientific, progressive, and morally sound; yet they get sick and go mad from the infection. Anarchy results, and human society disintegrates. Dostoevski’s point is that sociopathic personalities are like these microbes, able to kill everything that they touch.

The sickness of cold-blooded amorality is shown against a background of conventional, commonsensical standards that define the boundaries of good and evil. The relationship between them is seen in the novel’s other characters. Raskolnikov’s sister, Dunya, is about to be married to Luzhin, a manipulative businessman, and the morally grotesque Svidrigailov hovers around them, while the prostitute, Sonia, and the policeman, Porfiry, attempt to maneuver the hero into a confession. Each relationship is flawed by the characters’ tendency toward self-serving logicality, none more self-indulgent than that between Svidrigailov and Dunya, caused for the most part by Svidrigailov’s profligacy. Years of cold philosophizing have left Svidrigailov with no heartfelt values, not even the common sense to distinguish between the most fundamental kinds of good and evil. In order to escape his emotional wretchedness, he fills his days with a sinister kind of debauchery. When his love for Dunya is rejected, he is able to shoot himself with a cool detachment. Sonia, although kindly and sensitive, is nevertheless a prostitute; like the others, she has murdered herself by becoming a tool of the dissoluteness of other people. She, like the others, has defined herself by coolly deciding on a course of action that indulges others in their weaknesses. It is the ultimate punishment that results from sociopathic attitudes and behaviors: Like the crime, the punishment is cold, wretched, impersonal, and ultimately without any satisfaction.

Crime and Punishment Summary

(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

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 much, revealing to the detective that he might well be the murderer. No evidence, however, can be found that puts direct suspicion on him.

Later, witnessing a suicide attempt in the slums of St. Petersburg, Raskolnikov decides to turn himself over to the police; but he is deterred when his friend, a former clerk named Marmeladov, is struck by a carriage and killed. Raskolnikov gives the widow a small amount of money he received from his mother. Later, he attends a party given by some of his friends and discovers that they, too, suspect him of complicity in the murder of the two women.

Back in his room, Raskolnikov finds his mother and his sister, who are awaiting his return. Unnerved at their appearance and not wanting them to be near him, he places them in the care of his friend, Razumihin, who, upon meeting Dounia, is immediately attracted to her.

In an interview with Porfiry, the chief of the murder investigation, Raskolnikov is mentally tortured by questions and ironic statements until he is ready to believe that he is all but apprehended for the double crime. Partly in his own defense, he expounds his theory that any means justifies the ends of a man of genius and that sometimes he believes himself a man of genius. Raskolnikov proves to his mother and Dounia that Luzhin is a pompous fool, and the angry suitor is dismissed. Razumihin by that time replaces Luzhin in the girl’s affections.

Meanwhile, Svidrigailov, who caused Dounia great suffering while she was employed as his governess, arrives in St. Petersburg. His wife died, and he followed Dounia, as he explains, to atone for his sins against her by settling upon her a large amount of money.

Razumihin receives money from a rich uncle and goes into the publishing business with Dounia. They ask Raskolnikov to join them in the venture, but the student, whose mind and heart are full of turmoil, declines; he says good-bye to his friend and to his mother and sister and asks them not to try to see him again.

He goes to Sonia, the prostitute daughter of the dead Marmeladov. They read Sonia’s Bible together. Raskolnikov is deeply impressed by the wretched girl’s faith. He feels a great sympathy for Sonia and promises to tell her who committed the murders of the old pawnbroker and stepsister. Svidrigailov, who rents the room next to Sonia’s, overhears the conversation; he anticipates Raskolnikov’s disclosure with interest. Tortured in his own mind, Raskolnikov goes to the police station, where Porfiry plays another game of cat-and-mouse with him. Raskolnikov’s conscience and his paranoia result in immense suffering and torment of mind for him.

At a banquet given by Marmeladov’s widow for the friends of her late husband, Luzhin accuses Sonia of stealing money from his room. He observes Raskolnikov’s interest in Sonia, and he wishes to hurt the student for having spoken against him to Dounia. The girl is saved by the report of a neighbor who saw Luzhin slipping money into Sonia’s pocket. Later, in Sonia’s room, Raskolnikov confesses his crime and admits that in killing the two women he actually destroyed himself.

Svidrigailov overhears the confession and discloses his knowledge to Raskolnikov. Believing that Porfiry suspects him of the murder and realizing that Svidrigailov knows the truth, Raskolnikov finds life unbearable. Then Porfiry tells Raskolnikov outright that he is the murderer, at the same time promising Raskolnikov that a plea of temporary insanity will be placed in his behalf and his sentence will be mitigated if he confesses. Raskolnikov delays his confession.

Svidrigailov informs Dounia of the truth concerning her brother, and he now offers to save the student if Dounia will consent to be his wife. He makes this offer to her in his room, which he locks after tricking her into the meeting. He releases her when she attempts unsuccessfully to shoot him with a pistol she brought with her. Convinced at last that Dounia intends to reject him, Svidrigailov gives her a large sum of money and ends his life with the pistol.

Raskolnikov, after being reassured by his mother and his sister of their love for him, and by Sonia of her undying devotion, turns himself over to the police. He is tried and sentenced to serve eight years in Siberia. Dounia and Razumihin, now successful publishers, are married. Sonia follows Raskolnikov to Siberia, where she stays in a village near the prison camp. In her goodness to Raskolnikov and to the other prisoners, she comes to be known as Little Mother Sonia. With her inspiring example, Raskolnikov begins his regeneration.

Crime and Punishment Summary

Crime and Punishment 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...

(The entire section is 300 words.)

Crime and Punishment 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...

(The entire section is 1008 words.)

Crime and Punishment Epilogue Summary

The novel's epilogue focuses on Raskolnikov's experiences as a convict in Siberia. Raskolnikov initially feels a deep sense of alienation...

(The entire section is 164 words.)

Crime and Punishment Chapter Summaries

Crime and Punishment 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...

(The entire section is 788 words.)

Crime and Punishment 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...

(The entire section is 1048 words.)

Crime and Punishment 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...

(The entire section is 1046 words.)

Crime and Punishment 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...

(The entire section is 1173 words.)

Crime and Punishment 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...

(The entire section is 1038 words.)

Crime and Punishment 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...

(The entire section is 700 words.)

Crime and Punishment 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...

(The entire section is 728 words.)

Crime and Punishment 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,...

(The entire section is 688 words.)

Crime and Punishment 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...

(The entire section is 667 words.)

Crime and Punishment 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...

(The entire section is 647 words.)

Crime and Punishment 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...

(The entire section is 635 words.)

Crime and Punishment 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...

(The entire section is 723 words.)

Crime and Punishment 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...

(The entire section is 776 words.)

Crime and Punishment 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...

(The entire section is 783 words.)

Crime and Punishment 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,...

(The entire section is 729 words.)

Crime and Punishment 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...

(The entire section is 828 words.)

Crime and Punishment 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...

(The entire section is 741 words.)

Crime and Punishment 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...

(The entire section is 657 words.)

Crime and Punishment 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...

(The entire section is 820 words.)

Crime and Punishment 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...

(The entire section is 806 words.)

Crime and Punishment 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...

(The entire section is 758 words.)

Crime and Punishment 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...

(The entire section is 789 words.)

Crime and Punishment 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...

(The entire section is 795 words.)

Crime and Punishment 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,...

(The entire section is 767 words.)

Crime and Punishment 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....

(The entire section is 804 words.)

Crime and Punishment 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...

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Crime and Punishment 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...

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Crime and Punishment 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...

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Crime and Punishment 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...

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Crime and Punishment 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...

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Crime and Punishment 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...

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Crime and Punishment 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...

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Crime and Punishment 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...

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Crime and Punishment 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...

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Crime and Punishment 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...

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Crime and Punishment 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...

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Crime and Punishment 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...

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Crime and Punishment 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...

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Crime and Punishment 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...

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Crime and Punishment 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...

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Crime and Punishment 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...

(The entire section is 851 words.)