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Free Study Guide-Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky-Free Booknotes
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Major Characters

Rodion Romanovitch Raskolnikov

An impoverished law student. He writes a brilliant thesis on the role of "the extraordinary man," who, he believes, stands above the law. He later attempts to justify his crime of murdering two women on the basis of this fantastic theory. (He is also referred to by such pet names as Rodya, Rodka and Rodenka). The Russian word, raskol, from which the protagonist's name is derived, means "schism" or "split." Thus Raskolnikov's very name implies duality, which is the crux of his nature.

Porfiry Petrovitch

A police official in charge of investigating the double murder. He suspects Raskolnikov and plays a sort of 'cat- and-mouse' game with him all through the novel. When he finally is convinced of Raskolnikov's guilt, he offers him a chance to confess of his own accord.

Sofya Semyonovna Marmeladov

Usually called "Sonia," she is the daughter of the alcoholic clerk, Marmeladov. Her father's ineptitude and philandering virtually force her into a life of prostitution for the sake of supporting the family. In the end, she redeems both herself and Raskolnikov, who falls in love with her.

Arkady Ivanovitch Svidrigailov

Acts as a kind of foil (contrast) to the character of Raskolnikov. He is the former employer of Raskolnikov's sister, Dounia, and follows her to St. Petersburg because he is obsessed with her.

Minor Characters

Pulcheria Alexandrovna Raskolnikov

The mother of Raskolnikov and Dounia. She is a rather conventional Russian woman, who cares for her family and is especially concerned about her son.

Avodtya Romanovna Raskolnikov

Raskolnikov's sister, who is often referred to as "Dounia." She once worked in the Svidrigailov household. She and her mother come to St. Petersburg soon after Raskolnikov commits the double murder.

Pyotr Petrovitch Luzhin

A government employee who is in love with Dounia and is engaged to her. They do not get married because Raskolnikov objects to Luzhin as a suitor for his sister.

Dmitri Prokofitch Razumihin

Raskolnikov's fellow student and confidante who later marries Dounia.

Alena Ivanovna

An old woman in her sixties who operates a money-lending business. She is Raskolnikov's first victim.

Lizaveta Ivanovna

The half-sister of Elena. She enters their apartment just after the murder, and Raskolnikov is forced to kill her, too.

Nikolai and Dmitri

House-painters working in an apartment below the moneylender's rooms when the murder is committed. Strangely, one of them confesses to the crime although they are both innocent.


Razumihin's friend. He works as a clerk in the police station.

Ilya Petrovitch

A rather loud-mouthed police official.

Nikodim Fomitch

The Chief of Police in St. Petersburg.


A doctor who is a friend of Razumihin. He attends to Raskolnikov, who falls ill soon after the murders.

Praskovya Pavlovna Chebarov

Raskolnikov's landlady who at the time of his crime, registers a complaint with the police because he has not paid his rent.


Works as a servant for Raskolnikov's landlady and is rather friendly with him.

Semyon Zakharovitch Marmeladov

A government servant who loses his job because he is an alcoholic. Sonia is his daughter by his first wife. His second wife, Katerina, has three children from her previous marriage: Polenka, Lida and Kolya.

Katerina Ivanovna Marmeladov

Marmeladov's second wife and a woman of higher social status than her husband. Her first marriage was to an army officer.

Amalia Fyodorovna

Marmeladov's landlady. As a German, she is treated with disdain by Katerina.

Andrei Semyonovitch Lebeziatnikov

He lives in the same apartment house where the Marmeladov family lives. He considers himself a liberal.

Marfa Petrovna Svidrigailov

Svidrigailov's long-suffering wife. When she dies, she leaves 3,000 rubles to Dounia.


Sonia's landlady.

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