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FREE Barron's Booknotes-Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky-Free
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You might think that Raskolnikov's friend Razumikhin is all the things Raskolnikov should be. He's poor, but he manages to find enough odd jobs to get by. While he's not as brilliant as Raskolnikov, he's not tortured with theories about his right to commit crime either. On the other hand, he's not as interesting either.

Razumikhin sticks by his friend, even when Raskolnikov's behavior is baffling or rude. It is Razumikhin's respect and admiration that convince many readers that there is more to Raskolnikov than the surly, murdering egotist of the opening chapters. If Svidrigailov shows us the ugly parts of Raskolnikov's character, Razumikhin (whose name is formed from razum, which means "reason" or "good sense") shows us the admirable ones.

Because the truth about the murder unfolds slowly for Razumikhin, the reader watches him carefully for a change in attitude, or for rejection of his friend. When his friendship withstands even the recognition of Raskolnikov's guilt, it is a sign that the murderer can be forgiven.

His romance with Dunya is a romantic love story, even in the torturous setting in which it develops. Their interest in each other develops as a result of their mutual concern for Raskolnikov and is encouraged by Raskolnikov's efforts as matchmaker, but their love has a power of its own.

In the midst of all the sordid and ugly relationships depicted in the novel, this one is so strikingly normal and healthy that it proves that human love can flourish and grow even under the most adverse conditions. Dostoevsky seems to take pleasure in this relationship-in its normalcy and in its promise for the future.


While there are several examples of criminal behavior in Crime and Punishment, there is only one character who is repulsive through and through, and that is Luzhin, Dunya's fiance. While he is guilty only of lying and character defamation-by falsely accusing Sonia of theft-he is portrayed as totally reprehensible.

His chief crime is his overwhelming, relentless arrogance and self-interest. He is the only character who refuses to recognize his own faults. Further, he represents a character type that Dostoevsky despised: the self-satisfied bureaucrat. While he is hardly a central character-he is only in three scenes- he epitomizes Dostoevsky's idea of the worst that man can be.


She is the pawnbroker whom Raskolnikov kills. Her younger sister Lizaveta is also killed. She was a friend of Sonia Marmeladova, and she is described in the novel as meek, gentle, and long-suffering just as Sonia is.


He is the drunkard who is killed in an accident and who has aroused Raskolnikov's sympathy with the description of the ruin he has brought on his family. His wife's name is Katerina Ivanovna. She can't forgive her husband for the misery he has put them through. In the novel she dies of consumption. She has three children from a former marriage: Polina (Polya, Polenka, Polechka); Lena (Leeda, Lida, Lyona, Lidochka); and their brother Kolya (Kolka). The name Marmeladov comes from the root marmelad, which means jam or jelly. It's another example of Dostoevsky's use of psychonyms.


She is Rodion and Dunya's mother.


He is Luzhin's former ward who boards in the same house as the Marmeladovs.


He is Raskolnikov's doctor.


He is the chief police clerk.

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FREE Barron's Booknotes-Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky-Free

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