Study Guide

Crime and Punishment Suffering

By Fyodor Dostoevsky

Advertisement - Guide continues below


Part 1, Chapter 1
Rodion Romanovitch Raskolnikov

[Raskolnikov] was crushed by poverty, but the anxieties of his position had of late ceased to weigh upon him. (1.1.3)

This shows layers of suffering. The suffering Raskolnikov is experiencing as a result of the bad idea that won't leave him alone is so great that he doesn't feel the suffering he's experiencing as a result of his poverty.

Part 4, Chapter 4
Rodion Romanovitch Raskolnikov

[Raskolnikov:] "I did not bow down to you [Sonia], I bowed down to all the suffering of humanity," he said wildly and walked away to the window. (4.4.99)

We say elsewhere that Raskolnikov isn't very romantic to Sonia. That's not entirely true. He throws himself at her feet an awful lot, though he usually follows it with this kind of comment. More importantly, this passage shows that Raskolnikov sees Sonia as a symbol of everybody's suffering.

Part 5, Chapter 1
Andrey Semyonovitch Lebeziatnikov

[Andrey Semyonovitch:] "Even as it is, she was quite right: she was suffering and that was her asset, so to speak, her capital which she had a perfect right to dispose of." (5.1.26)

Andrey Semyonovitch has a different take on Sonia's prostitution. He sees it as a practical move to alleviate suffering. The suffering of prostitution, in his mind, is better than the suffering of starvation.

Part 5, Chapter 3
Pyotr Petrovitch Luzhin

[Luzhin:] "[…] immediately after your visit I found that a hundred-rouble note was missing from my table, in the room of my friend Mr. Lebeziatnikov." (5.3.5)

If Luzhin has his way, Sonia is about to start really suffering. Fortunately, there are some decent people in this novel, not the least of whom is Andrey Semyonovitch Lebeziatnikov. Luzhin's plan backfires, and the suffering boomerangs back on him.

Part 5, Chapter 4

[Raskolnikov] had to tell [Sonia] who had killed Lizaveta. He knew the terrible suffering it would be to him and, as it were, brushed away the thought of it. (5.4.1)

Raskolnikov knows that confessing, the act of speaking his crimes, causes him to sufferyet, he can't stop doing it. He needs to tell. The suffering of telling is less than the suffering of not telling.

Part 6, Chapter 2
Porfiry Petrovitch

[Porfiry:] "So I suspect now that Nikolay wants to take his suffering or something of the sort." (6.2.24)

Porfiry thinks that Nikolay is taking the rap for the murders to achieve the kind of suffering only available to the actual murderer. He blames this on Nikolay's religion, which celebrates suffering as a means to access divine love.

[Porfiry:] "I am convinced that you will decide, 'to take your suffering.' You don't believe my words now, but you'll come to it of yourself. For suffering, Rodion Romanovitch, is a great thing." (6.2.69)

Porfiry blames Nikolay's desire to suffer on religious fanaticism. So what is his problem? Legal fanaticism? Doesn't he also sound like an echo of Raskolnikov, and of Sonia? Many of the characters believe that suffering is the chief means for purification.

Part 6, Chapter 5
Arkady Ivanovitch Svidrigaïlov

[Svidrigaïlov:] "He has suffered a great deal and is still suffering from the idea that he could make a theory, but was incapable of boldly overstepping the law, and so he is not a man of genius." (6.5.60)

This is Svidrigaïlov telling Dounia why Raskolnikov killed and why he is suffering from it. Sounds pretty accurate to us. What do you think?

Part 6, Chapter 8
Rodion Romanovitch Raskolnikov

[Raskolnikov:] "They say it is necessary for me to suffer! What's the object of these senseless sufferings? Shall I know any better what they are for, when I am crushed by hardships and idiocy, and weak as an old man after twenty years' penal servitude?" (6.8.75)

Here, Raskolnikov is questioning the high premium everybody places on suffering as he debates whether or not to turn himself in and submit to prison. Also notice that he thinks he'll get at least 20 years in prison, but he only gets eight.

Epilogue, Part 2

But these recollections scarcely troubled [Raskolnikov] now; he knew with what infinite love he would now repay all her sufferings. (Epilogue.2.26)

Now, that's better. It looks like Raskolnikov is finally going to stop adding to Sonia's misery and start subtracting from it.

Crime and Punishment Suffering Study Group

Ask questions, get answers, and discuss with others.

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

This is a premium product

Please Wait...