Study Guide

Crime and Punishment Religion

By Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Part 1, Chapter 2
Sonia (Sofya Semyonovna Marmeladov)

[Marmeladov:] "I ought to be crucified, crucified on a cross, not pitied! Crucify me, oh judge, crucify me but pity me!" (1.2.36)

Like many of the characters in this novel, Marmeladov thinks that if he can suffer like Christ, he might be purified. At first, he says he doesn't want pity, just crucifixion. Then, he says he wants both. This strikes us as a very human emotion. If we have to suffer, we want others to feel a little bad for us while we are doing it.

Part 1, Chapter 4

Bitter is the ascent to Golgotha. (1.4.1)

Golgotha is where Christ is thought to have been crucified. In this snippet from Raskolnikov's brain, he's comparing Dounia to Christ. He thinks she's sacrificing herself to Luzhin to pay for Raskolnikov's "sins."

Part 1, Chapter 7

Raskolnikov thrust it in his pocket without looking at it, flung the crosses on the old woman's body and rushed back into the bedroom, this time taking the axe with him. (1.7.23)

Gothic moment! The pawnbroker is lying in a pool of her own blood. The symbols of Christianity juxtaposed with images of evil, as if in challenge. If you are into this, check out Flannery O'Connor's stories, such as "A Good Man is Hard to Find."

Part 3, Chapter 5
Rodion Romanovitch Raskolnikov

"And...and do you believe in God? Excuse my curiosity."

"I do," repeated Raskolnikov, raising his eyes to Porfiry. (3.5.104-5)

This is part of the reason we question Raskolnikov's "religious conversion" at the end of the novel. He claims he was already religious. He also tells Porfiry he believes in the story of Lazarus "literally." Even though he doesn't think God can or will solve any problems for him, there is much proof that he has many religious experiments way before the ending.

Part 4, Chapter 4
Sonia (Sofya Semyonovna Marmeladov)

[Sonia, reading:] "And when He thus had spoken, He cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

"And he that was dead came forth." (4.4.183-184)

Lazarus is almost as important to Raskolnikov as Napoleon is. It gets pretty bizarre. If he can be a Lazarus, he can be reanimated, awakened from the death of his life.

Part 6, Chapter 8

He knelt down in the middle of the square, bowed down to the earth, and kissed that filthy earth with bliss and rapture. (6.8.27)

This is another pre-epilogue moment of religious experience for Raskolnikov. According to Sonia's instructions, he's supposed to tell everybody he's a murder after he bows down. But he can't because the heckling begins as soon as his knees touch the ground.

Epilogue, Part 2

[Raskolnikov] had never talked to them about God nor his belief, but they wanted to kill him as an infidel. (Epilogue.2.15)

"Infidel" is also sometimes translated as "atheist." The other prisoners also seem to dislike Raskolnikov because of the nature of his crime. Likely, they assumed he has to be an atheist to do what he did. But, maybe they think he's an atheist because of the way he treats Sonia, whom they all adore. Interestingly, they learn to accept Raskolnikov when he learns to accept Sonia.

How it happened [Raskolnikov] did not know. But all at once something seemed to seize him and fling him at [Sonia's] feet. He wept and threw his arms round her knees. (Epilogue.2.22)

We aren't sure if this is a religious moment or not. We aren't quite sure what's going on. Does some invisible force lift him up and toss him on the ground? All we know is Raskolnikov is extremely moved. Whether it's love, religion, or some kind of muscle spasm that moves him, we do not know. Whatever it is, we like it.

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