Study Guide

Crime and Punishment Violence

By Fyodor Dostoevsky

Advertisement - Guide continues below


Part 1, Chapter 2

For that's Katerina Ivanovna's character, and when children cry, even from hunger, she falls to beating them at once. (1.2.21)

Even though we get dozens of lines like this about Katerina, she remains a somewhat sympathetic character. Part of this is because her kids, and a few others, remain loyal to her and seem to love her. Her abuse is considered a symptom of her illness and her poverty and, thus, not entirely monstrous.

Part 1, Chapter 3
Katerina Ivanovna Marmeladov

[Katerina:] "Mercy on us, can he have drunk it all? There were twelve silver roubles left in the chest!" and in a fury she seized him by the hair and dragged him into the room. (1.3.49)

Many of the violent moments in the novel involve Katerina. Sure, she has a right to be mad about the stolen money, but it's painful to read about her treatment of her husband nonetheless. It's also darkly comic. We are angry with Marmeladov for not being stronger, and we want something to wake him to the reality of it. He himself thinks the hair pulling might help.

Part 1, Chapter 5

She was a complete slave and went in fear and trembling of her sister, who made her work day and night, and even beat her. (1.5.65)

This is what Raskolnikov overhears the other student saying in the bar about Lizaveta and the pawnbroker. Man, it seems like there are lots of beatings being administered in this novel. This passage is pretty effective in arousing our sympathy for Lizaveta and our disgust for the pawnbroker. It makes us take Lizaveta's death much harder than we would have if we hadn't known of the abuse.

The blow fell; the mare staggered, sank back, tried to pull, but the bar fell again with a swinging blow on her back and she fell on the ground like a log. (1.5.45)

This is from Raskolnikov's famous horse dream. When he wakes from it, he decides not to kill Alyona. In his mind, for a moment, he thinks of her as his innocent victim and wants to save her from himself.

Part 1, Chapter 7

Then [Raskolnikov] dealt [Alyona] another and another blow with the blunt side and on the same spot. The blood gushed as from an overturned glass, the body fell back. (1.7.22)

An incredibly graphic moment. Dostoevsky's word choice is interesting here, too. He compares the body to a "glass." This speaks to Raskolnikov's vision of her as a mere object rather than a human being.

Part 2, Chapter 3

[…] she was beseeching, no doubt, not to be beaten, for she was being mercilessly beaten on the stairs. (2.3.51)

What a creepy moment. We knew Ilya was "explosive," but why would he beat Raskolnikov's landlady? Is it because of the story Raskolnikov told him at the police station? Did Raskolnikov somehow cause this? Well, only in his dreams. It never happens, but it sure seems real when we read it.

Part 3, Chapter 6

He was overcome with frenzy and he began hitting the old woman on the head with all his force, but at every blow of the axe the laughter and whispering from the bedroom grew louder. (3.6.62)

Major anxiety dream. Even if Raskolnikov could legally get away with the murder, his mind will keep on punishing him. We wonder how long such dreams will continue.

Part 4, Chapter 2
Pyotr Petrovitch Luzhin

[Pyotr Petrovitch Luzhin:] "Resslich hated this girl, and grudged her every crust; she used to beat her mercilessly. One day the girl was found hanging in the garret. At the inquest the verdict was suicide." (4.2.41)

We don't blame you for shuddering. The girl in question is only 14. By Svidrigaïlov's own later admission, he sexually abused her, which caused her to kill herself.

Part 6, Chapter 5

Dounia raised the revolver, and deadly pale, gazed at [Svidrigaïlov], measuring the distance and awaiting the first movement on his part. (6.5.106)

What a relief this moment is. We can't imagine how Dounia will get away from Svidrigaïlov, but she's saved by the gun, just in the nick of time. Dounia doesn't take advantage of the situation, just nicks his forehead to make a point (or she's just a bad shot). In any case, he won't be so lucky when he turns the same gun on himself.

Crime and Punishment Violence 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...