Analysis: Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis
Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.
Plot Type : Rebirth
Raskolnikov is obsessed by a terrible idea he can't get out of his head
Our hero has big problems. He's left college, let his teaching gigs drift away, and has spent the past month holed up in his room muttering to himself and thinking murderous thoughts. On top of that, he's sick from poor nutrition and is suffering from hypochondria and depression. He's a classic Booker hero in the Falling Stage, that is, he has "fallen under the shadow of a dark power"—his own mind.
A nightmare about a horse
There's a whole Nightmare Stage Raskolnikov is going to have to go through, but after he dreams of a horse being mercilessly beaten and then killed, his desire to kill the pawnbroker seems to fade away, and he feels great relief. Unfortunately, Raskolnikov's Recession Stage only lasts a few seconds.
Raskolnikov is in Alyona Ivanovna's home, with an axe
Here, we find Raskolnikov "imprisoned" by his own bad idea. He finds himself brutally slaying both Alyona and her abused sister, Lizaveta (who was one of the people he wanted to free by killing Alyona).
Raskolnikov's life is like one big nightmare
Ugliness is at every turn. He's battling with his mind, unsure whether to confess to the murders he committed, kill himself, or try to get away with his crime. He's also trying to keep the novel's other big villains, Luzhin and Svidrigaïlov, from abusing women and (in the case of Svidrigaïlov) children. Tormented by bad dreams and ugly scenes, Raskolnikov is at the lowest point of his young life.
Sonia saves Raskolnikov
In the final stage of the Rebirth plot, the hero gains "miraculous redemption" with the help of Sonia. During his first year in prison, Raskolnikov is still the same torn-up guy. He wishes he could repent over the murder, but he just can't. He's miserable and in deep anguish. When Sonia appears next to him on the log next to the river, he has a change of heart. He falls deeply in love with Sonia and—maybe—turns to religion. The contrast between the natural setting of the riverbank and all those dirty rooms and dirty streets that make up the rest of the novel is part of what makes this a classic Rebirth story.