Study Guide

Crime and Punishment Part 4, Chapter 1

By Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Part 4, Chapter 1

  • Raskolnikov thinks he must be dreaming. How could Svidrigaïlov be in his room?
  • Svidrigaïlov says that he has come to talk about Dounia. He thinks Raskolnikov can help him out with her. Yeah, right, Raskolnikov tells him.
  • Svidrigaïlov says he knows that Raskolnikov is just mad because he heard that he hurt his sister. He defends himself, saying that he was in love with her and that he really thought running away with her was best for everyone involved.
  • Raskolnikov says he doesn't care about Svidrigaïlov's excuses. Raskolnikov and his sister "don't like" him and that's that. This makes Svidrigaïlov happy. He likes Raskolnikov's direct approach.
  • Raskolnikov asks him if he helped bring on his wife's heart attack.
  • According to Svidrigaïlov, Marfa died of a heart condition. He implies she was also drunk.
  • He says he only gave her two licks with the whip and that she was happy to get them. It gave her an excuse to go into town; she was "bored." But, they hardly ever fought.
  • Svidrigaïlov wants to see some action. It's been quiet since he arrived. He hasn't been in St. Petersburg for eight years. Back then, he partied; now, he's all about "anatomy."
  • No more parties for him. He doesn't want to be a card shark like he was when he first met his late wife, Marfa. She covered his gambling debt and saved him from staying in prison.
  • But, she held the debt over his head, threatening to try to collect on it if he got out of line. Eventually, she gave it to him though, as a gift. She also gave him lots of money.
  • Svidrigaïlov asks Raskolnikov if he believes in ghosts. He claims that Marfa has been haunting him, though not in a scary way.
  • Raskolnikov interrogates Svidrigaïlov about his experiences with ghosts. In addition to Marfa, he was visited by his dead servant, Filka.
  • Raskolnikov asks the man to get down to business.
  • Svidrigaïlov complies; he wants Dounia to break up with Luzhin, who is a jerk. Second, he wants to give Dounia 10,000 rubles as a gift.
  • Raskolnikov says she won't take his money but agrees to ask her, if it will keep Svidrigaïlov away from her. Raskolnikov asks when he's planning to leave town.
  • Svidrigaïlov says he might just get married instead of leaving town. He's got some people on the lookout for a possible wife.
  • Also, Marfa left Dounia 3,000 roubles, which will be available in less than a month. With that, Svidrigaïlov exits Raskolnikov's room, bumping into Razumihin.

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