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Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment

by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Suffering Theme

We dare you to find a chapter in Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment without some form of the word "suffer" in it, or without some person (or animal) suffering terrible physical and/or psychological pain. Suffering, often closely associated with poverty in this novel, is definitely a condition to escape from. However, it's also possible proof of a person's goodness, and even a way to become "good." In Crime and Punishment, if a character isn't suffering, they're probably making somebody else suffer. Sound depressing? It is. Luckily, this classic isn't all gloom and doom – occasional patches of brightness and hope are there to be found, though you might have to look hard to see them.

Questions About Suffering

  1. How are poverty and suffering related in the novel?
  2. Does the novel ever represent suffering as a "positive" condition? If so, give some examples. In your examples, explain the "benefits" of suffering.
  3. Are there any examples of children in the novel who aren't suffering? If not, how does this comment on the novel as a whole?
  4. Do any characters bring on their own suffering? If so, who, why, and how?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Most of the suffering in Crime and Punishment is directly related to poverty.

Svidrigaïlov's suicide shows that he, too, was suffering terribly in the novel.

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