Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 761
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 Raskolnikov to come to him. Petrovitch has had Raskolnikov followed and knows every kind of private thing about Raskolnikov but still claims Raskolnikov may not be guilty. This kind of ambiguous talk makes Raskolnikov highly agitated, and he has no idea what Petrovitch really does or does not know.
Petrovitch has studied Nikolay and knows he is the kind of man who would make a false confession of guilt in a kind of religious fervor, and he expects the man to recant at any moment. Raskolnikov can take no more and finally asks who the murderer is; Petrovitch answers quietly and with great conviction that it is Raskolnikov. Of course, Raskolnikov denies the accusation, but Petrovitch insists it could have been no one else. They sit in silence until Raskolnikov accuses Petrovitch of trying his psychological tricks on him again; Petrovitch says it no longer matters whether Raskolnikov confesses, for he knows the truth.
He does not arrest Raskolnikov because he does not want to see Raskolnikov safely locked away with no opportunity to surrender and confess. He has one key fact that proves Raskolnikov’s guilt, but Petrovitch likes him and wants him to freely confess. If Raskolnikov does not, however, he will be arrested. Petrovitch is offering Raskolnikov an opportunity to turn himself in while there is another still claiming to be the murderer, thereby diminishing his own heinous acts and mitigating his punishment.
When Raskolnikov disdains a lesser sentence and says he has no care for the future, Petrovitch admonishes him and says he has much worth living for, for he is young and can be forgiven. He implores the younger man to confess and begin a new life, but Raskolnikov is not interested. Petrovitch can let him think about it for a few more days, but then he will have to make an arrest; he knows Raskolnikov will not run away, for he must be where he can suffer.
As Petrovitch leaves, Raskolnikov reminds him he has made no confession. Petrovitch asks Raskolnikov one favor: if he decides to take his own life before his arrest, please leave a short note about where he hid the stolen items.
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