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TERM PAPER IDEAS
1. Compare Raskolnikov's victims, the pawnbroker and her sister. Why is it important that he kills them both? Why doesn't Dostoevsky develop either woman very clearly as a character?
2. Why is the novel so full of scenes of drunkenness, prostitution, and other seedy or decadent aspects of life? Explain how this environment is related to the crime Raskolnikov commits.
3. Compare the characters of Sonia and Dunya, the two most important women in the novel. Do they seem as realistic and powerfully drawn as the men?
4. Analyze the physical illnesses that plague the characters in the novel: Katerina Ivanovna, Raskolnikov himself, his mother, and other characters who are seriously ill. Are all the illnesses the same? What different things does being sick mean?
5. Look up some modern psychological explanations for deviant behavior. Do Raskolnikov and other "deviant" characters correspond to social scientists' attempts to explain criminal behavior?
6. Describe Porfiry Petrovich as a detective. What has he in common with other detectives in fiction and how is he different? You might compare him to Sherlock Holmes, for instance.
7. Identify and discuss the various Christian imagery and symbolism in the novel.
8. Why, in a novel with so many religious ideas, are there no churches and few clergymen? Research Dostoevsky's life to find out about his religious beliefs and about the organization of the Russian church during the years when he was writing Crime and Punishment.
9. Compare Raskolnikov to Shakespeare's Hamlet. They both have been described as men who experience the anguish of modern life.
10. What does Dostoevsky mean by alienation. Show the various ways that being alienated affect Raskolnikov.
11. Explain the contradictions in Raskolnikov's explanations for his crime. Does he really know why he has murdered the pawnbroker?