• Year Published: 1866.
  • Pages: 545.

Crime and Punishment Summary

The plot of the novel “Crime and Punishment” tells about a murder committed by the main character. Rodion Raskolnikov is a young man, expelled from university students and living in extreme poverty. Six months before committing his crime, Rodion wrote an article in which he expressed his principle of people separation. He was convinced that the people are divided into two categories: of the lower category and the higher category, people with a special gifts or talents. This theory had to give an answer to the question who should live and who should die?

Scheming the murder of the old woman, Raskolnikov justifies himself by the fact that with her money he could make thousands of good deeds, and most importantly get rid of poverty his mother and sister. At the same time Raskolnikov wanted to check to what category of people, according to his theory, he belongs. Having overcome all the doubts, he committed the murder, but no “good deeds” committed by him after this act did not bring him the expected satisfaction.

At the critical moment of life, fate brought Raskolnikov to Sonia Marmeladova. By the time of their meeting, he was a criminal who committed the murder, and she was a prostitute. Each in their own way experiencing a fall and think to what end it may lead in the future. Raskolnikov immediately realised that fate itself brought him to Sonia, but together they have to go the hard way.

Raskolnikov told Sonia that he killed an old woman moneylender and Lizaveta. He thought that Sonia will give him moral support. But the “quiet” girl living according to Christian precepts, destroyed his theory of simple logic and helped to rebuild his life. Radio found the strength to confess to the crime, for which he was convicted and sent to prison.

Exiled people despised and hated Raskolnikov, feeling that he considers himself a higher and better than them, although position made them all equal. But thanks to Sonia his soul was cleansed and restored to life. For their beliefs, Raskolnikov has paid a heavy price. His theory that he has tested on himself. In fact, he killed others, and spiritually he killed himself.

But under the influence of love and forgiveness, embodied in the image of Sonia Marmeladova, he is convinced of the falsity of his way and his theory. Love of Sonia rescued him, and thus he was able to reborn and start a new life.

Crime and Punishment Characters

Crime and Punishment is a famous novel, which was written by the author Fyodor Dostoyevsky. The Russian author focuses on the personality of his main character Raskolnikov, as well as on some secondary personalities of the book. Dostoyevsky started writing the Crime and Punishment in the summer of 1865.

Main character: Raskolnikov

Raskolnikov is a 23 years old young man and an ex-student in Saint Petersburg, who wants to find out what happens if decent men commit a crime. In order to find the answers, he decides to commit a murder and to rob an elderly pawnbroker and moneylender. He is described as a handsome man, slim and well built, with dark brown hair and dark eyes. But the most striking feature of Raskolnikov is his personality. On the one hand, he seems antisocial and cold and on the other hand he can be a warm and compassionate person. He commits a murder and goes to jail. In the meantime, he meets Sonia and falls deeply in love with her, as he tries to execute his years in prison, in order to continue a normal life with her.


Sonia is usually characterised as a shy and innocent person, even though she was forced to work as a prostitute when she was 18 years old, in order to be able to help her family. She falls in love with Raskolnikov, even though he knows he committed a murder and she decides to follow him in Siberia. During the time he spends in prison, she tries to have a normal life. She makes friends who love her. Throughout the novel, Sonia is an important source of moral strength for Raskolnikov and tries to help him.


Avdotya Romanovna Raskolnikov or Dunia is the sister of Raskolnikov. She is a sympathetic young woman, who is is determined to marry a wealthy man, Luzhin, in order to free her family from financial problems. Throughout the famous novel, Dunia usually walks across the room in her house, in order to be able to think more clearly and make her decisions. Svidrigailov plans to win her back by blackmailing her and she follows her to Saint Petersburg, but she doesn’t want him. At the end, she rejects both men in her life, in order to be the Raskolnikov’s loyal friend, Razumikhin.


Razumikhin (Dmitry Prokofyich Vrazumikhin) is Raskolnikov’s best friend. He is a loving, sweet and forgiving person and he is usually motivated by his desire to help people he truly cares about, like Raskolnikov’s family. He has dropped out of college, where he studied law and he works as a translator and he dreams of opening his own publishing business.

Pulkheria Alexandrovna

Pulkheria Alexandrovna Raskolnikov is Dunya’s and Raskolnikov’s mum. She is a loving mother, but she becomes ill (mentally and physically) when she hears the bad news about her son. She tried to push her daughter into the arms of Pyotr Petrovitch Luzhin, who is a very powerful and wealthy man. But she is a devastated woman because her son is in prison in Siberia. In fact, she is slightly more aware of the fate of her son, which she hides from her daughter and Razumikhin.

Crime and Punishment Topics


As the title of the book suggests, one of the main topics in the Crime and Punishment is criminality. There are different kinds of crime including child abuse and murder as the novel unfolds. Other crimes in the book that are somewhat subtle with some not legally referred to as crimes are pettiness, crimes against the poor, crimes of privilege and power, apathy, and crimes of meanness. At the end of the novel, it is made clear that even the serious criminals like murderers can learn to love and avoid the criminal impulses.

Justice and Judgment

The idea of judgment is well portrayed in the Crime and Punishment novel. Judgment of and by religion, judgment of and by society, and judgment of self and others are the main types. The book looks to instil the concept of judging, not just the character but the characters’ judgment of each other too, with the primary goal of getting justice and fairness. It is upon you to determine whether this aim is achieved by the end of the novel after reading it.


Finding love in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment which is dominated by criminality and violence can be a challenge. Most intimate relationships in the novel are stained by miscommunication, cruelty, confusion, and power plays. However, this masterpiece brings out the kindness and love acts of some of the most perverse characters, with redemption not lost in the picture.


A lot of violence is experienced as the ex-student turns into a murderer and tries to save children and young women from poverty and evil men. Beatings, sexual abuse, and some gunshot wounds are all evidence of the vice. A more vivid illustration is given by Dostoevsky’s graphical illustrations of the guts, blood, and aggression of bad ideas.


The immediate result of violence is indeed suffering. Whether it is a person or an animal suffering, the topic is well illustrated. In this novel, Dostoevsky relates suffering to poverty that children and young women are living in. When one person is suffering, there is definitely another person causing the suffering. However, it’s not all gloom and doom as there are possibilities of the sufferers to find solace.

Drugs and Alcohol

The massive use of alcohol in the Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment is used as a symbol of addiction, affliction, vice and vulnerability. There is no time that alcohol is celebrated, and as a matter of fact, there is no positive aspect of alcohol at all. All the scenes featuring the use of alcohol result in regret and terror.


While we may not be able to see neither the inside or the outside of a school, two among the main characters of the Crime and Punishment novel are ex-college students with different reasons for dropping out. Also, bright young women featuring in the book, despite having had the chance to go to school due to the policies in Russia at the time of the setting (1860).


Most characters in the Crime and Punishment practice various versions of the Russian Orthodoxy, and Christian ideas, symbols, and imagery is portrayed in a rather scary manner as is the case in many films and novels in the Gothic tradition.

Crime and Punishment Quotes

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment is a very revealing treatise of the human condition. Widely considered the best psychological novel ever written, it explores one of the most primordial of human emotions: guilt. It is therefore of little surprise that the most memorable and defining Crime and Punishment quotes deal with guilt and how it torments the soul. In this post, we are going to look at a couple of the best-known Crime and Punishment quotes dealing with guilt, place them in context within the novel’s narrative and then offer a reasoned explanation of what message Dostoyevsky meant to pass on to the reader:

Life, However Miserable, is Better than Death

Where was it that I read about a man condemned to die who, within an hour of his execution, was thinking or saying that if he had to live on a cliff-side stepping on a ledge wide enough only for his feet, with an abyss, storm or eternal darkness all around him and he had to live thus for a thousand years or an eternity it would still be preferable than to die at his appointed hour! To live, oh to live, irrespective of how, to live – only to live!

Context: Raskolnikov has just had a heated conversation Pyotr Petrovich (who had been suspecting that Raskolnikov committed the double murders). While he is irritated, he decides to walk to the police station and confess. This quote is a glimpse of his inner thoughts as he takes that walk and shows us just how he lost the resolve he had only cultivated minutes earlier.

<p style=”text-align: justify; font-family: Roboto; font-size: 16px;”>Explanation: Dostoyevsky takes us into Raskolnikov’s thoughts as he tries to rationalise his desire to live free and the need to get rid of the guilt weighing on his conscience. The author skillfully uses this juxtaposition of life and death in this metaphor in order to bring out the change in the protagonist’s inner conflict as he struggles with the decision whether to confess his crime or not. This is the point when Raskolnikov opts to hold on to the life he has, even if it means carrying an overwhelming burden of guilt as a result. It is a considerable change in mindset as earlier in the chapter Raskolnikov was desperate to trade anything for the burden of guilt on his consciousness but now here he is using this metaphor to beg for life at whatever cost.

What do I tell you? For the one and a half years that I have known Rodion, he’s been at once sullen, arrogant, gloomy and proud. In recent days, more than at any other time in the past at least; he’s also been insecure and hypochondriac. But he’s also one of the most magnanimous and kind souls I know. He rarely, if ever, voices his feelings. Indeed, he would rather commit a cruel act than put what is in his heart into words. But there are times he’s not a hypochondriac at all, only inhumanly callous and cold. It is as if there are two opposite characters within his being, each constantly changing places with the other.

Context: Razumikhin is meeting with Raskolnikov’s mother Pulkheria Alexandrovna and his sister Avdotya Romanovna (Dunya) who have just arrived in St Petersburg and are alarmed at Raskolnikov’s state of mind and health. Razumikhin is doing his best to put in words the apparent split personality behaviour of his friend.

Explanation: Dostoyevsky again manages to bring out the intense inner conflict in Raskolnikov, this time using the perspective of a third party who is, as yet, unaware of the crime that precipitated Raskolnikov’s personal crisis. As Razumikhin delves into his explanation, the two women can’t believe what they are hearing, giving credence to Razumikhin’s suspicion that his friend was not always like this. While Razumikhin’s incisive intellect just stops short of diagnosing the guilt within his friend’s breast, the dialogue from which this quote is taken serves to enable the three to goad Raskolnikov into confronting the ultimate choice he had to take.

It is impossible to offer a wholesale treatise on the theme of guilt as explored in Crime and Punishment within a single post like this. However, the two quotes explored above offer interesting glimpses at the tormenting reality guilt-ridden people, and that often means virtually all humanity, have to deal with on a daily basis.

Crime and Punishment Outline

This is a story of a crime that was committed by a person, who in the end, was punished justly, but hopefully, had a second chance to get his life back, together.

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