Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version | MonkeyNotes
11. To answer a question like this, think about the whole novel.
First, find examples of suspenseful scenes in the novel. Two of the most famous occur when Raskolnikov is in the pawnbroker's room at the time of the killing (Part I, Chapter VII), and when Dunya confronts Svidrigailov with the gun (Part VI, Chapter VI). Others occur throughout the novel, some in each part except the epilogue. You don't have to include all of them, but you should choose examples from different parts of the novel. The examples should be varied in subject too. For instance, the times when Raskolnikov thinks he's about to get caught are all alike in subject. So use only one of those.
When you've identified three different types of suspenseful scenes, describe each one. Mention when they occur, what they contribute to the story, what the language is like, and how the narrator's style or the dialogue reflects the tension. For example, when Luzhin tries to trap Sonia, Lebezyatnikov drops his long, complicated sentences and accuses him directly.
In your conclusion, explain how you, as a reader, reacted to the scenes, saying whether you think they added to your pleasure and understanding.
12. There are two different ways to answer this question.
The first, and perhaps easier, way is to explain, by using details from the novel, that Raskolnikov behaves in two distinctly different ways at different times. Sometimes he is hateful and cruel, as he is when he kills the women (Part I, Chapter VII), or when he tells Sonia her faith in God is useless (Part IV, Chapter IV). Other times he is generous and full of compassion, as he is when he gives the Marmeladovs money (Part I, Chapter II; Part II, Chapter VII), and when he tells his mother that he loves her (Part VI, Chapter VII).
To write a strong essay, you should decide which part of his personality seems more in control at different times-and why. Support your conclusions by describing what Raskolnikov says and does at different points in the novel. Remember to include episodes from the entire novel, including the Epilogue, in which Dostoevsky allows Raskolnikov's good side to triumph. Your conclusion might comment on whether you find that change believable.
The other way to answer the question is to compare Raskolnikov to some of his "doubles" or "foils." You can show how, on the evil side, he is like Svidrigailov, while, in his good moments, he can be like Dunya and Razumikhin. Note scenes in which Raskolnikov's similarity to an evil character is pointed out-and scenes in which an evil character is used as a contrast to Raskolnikov. Your conclusion should explain why it's significant that Raskolnikov lives (like the good characters), rather than dies (like the evil or weak ones).