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Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment: epilogue


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First of all,
on the off-chance that some of you are finding it difficult to do all of the C&P reading quite as closely and thoroughly as you would like to, please make sure that if nothing else, you have read the ENDING of the novel: i.e., Part 6, Chapter VIII and the Epilogue (pp.521-551). We will open our discussion tomorrow with a consideration of this ending (were you satisfied?, did it "fit"?, was it what you expected?, etc.), so please ensure that you have read it closely.

So far,
we have talked about the moral and philosophical discourses operating in the novel, and the way the characters are used to delineate these; we have considered the moral and philosophical motives behind--and consequences of--Raskolnikov's crime; we have discussed the "split" or "schism" (raskol) in Raskolnikov's character, and how he attempts to resove it by murdering Alyona; we have explored the symbolism at work in vivid episodes such as Raskolnikov's dream; we have coined a number of CFDs ("clumsy fake dichotomies") that Dostoevsky seems to be exploring/manipulating.

We ended class on Thursday with a consideration of a characterological CFD:
                             Alyona (pawnbroker)/Lizaveta (sister)
--the two victims of Raskolnikov's crime. We talked about how these two victims represent two qualitatively different murders: Alyona is the victim of the murder Raskolnikov intended to commit (with its carefully constructed, political/philosophical justificatory framework), whereas Lizaveta is an unintended victim, whose killing is not justified by any of Raskolnikov's arguments. We also noted that
                             (a) Sonya was socially connected to Lizaveta.
                             (b) Svidrigailov is rumored to have intentionally killed the Lizaveta figure in his backstory; does this point to an important difference between Svidrigailov and Raskolnikov (note that Svid. insists on their mutual resemblance)? Does Lizaveta's death haunt Raskolnikov in a different way from Alyona's?

I'd like you to think about ways in which this CFD, Alyona vs. Lizaveta, might reflect other CFDs we have touched upon in our discussion of this work (and of other works this semester), such as:

In this connection, see especially the scene between Raskolnikov and Sonya, Part 4, Chapter IV (pp. 314ff.).

Continue to explore the following:

  • parallels between characters
    • ideational orientation of characters:

      (Utilitarian arithmetic/"extraordinary man" theory/
      "law of Nature")
      (NB--Razumikhin forcefully rejects this line of reasoning, p.263)

      Christian morality
      (reading/quoting Gospels)


      Pulkheria Ivanovna (Rask's mother)

      Where do the following characters fit in (or do we need to create new categories for them)?
      • Porfiry Petrovich
      • Dunya (aka Avdotya Romanovna, Rask's sister)
      • Razumikhin
      • Katerina Ivanovna

      *Marmeladov refers (p. 15) to John 19:5, where Pilate presents Jesus to the crowd with the words "Behold the man!" (Ecce homo!) This moment in the story of the Passion is rich in imagery, having been painted by a number of famous artists. One of the most famous renditions is this one by Titian (Tiziano Vecellio, ca. 1487-1576); you can link to others from this page at, which lists paintings of each of the different stages of the Passion (you'l find Ecce homo under the heading, "Christ Crowned with Thorns/The Mocking of Christ "). Why should this image be a particularly significant one for Crime and Punishment?

  • Make a list of all the episodes in which Raskolnikov gives, receives, or rejects charity. Can we draw any conclusions about the role of charity in (a) the moral universe of the novel, (b) Raskolnikov's psychology?
  • Do the same for Raskolnikov's confessions and near-confessions. What prompts him to confess? What prompts him to suppress his confession?

Misc. other questions

  • Is there anything Quixotic about Raskolnikov's journey?
  • Are there 2 kinds of people?
  • What, finally, does Raskolnikov want? Have his needs changed over the course of the novel?

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