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Crime and Punishment | Study Guide

Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Crime and Punishment | Quotes


And He will judge and will forgive all. ... And when He has done with all of them, then He will summon us. 'You too come forth,' He will say, 'Come forth ye drunkards, come forth, ye weak ones, come forth, ye children of shame! ... This is why I receive them ... that not one of them believed himself to be worthy of this.'

Marmeladov, Part 1, Chapter 2

Marmeladov, an alcoholic who has driven his family into starvation and illness, believes that redemption is still possible on Judgment Day because God embraces everyone, even if they feel unworthy of acceptance or love. The novel is packed with "children of shame," including the novel's protagonist, Raskolnikov, Sonia, and others. His belief opens the door to redemption early in the novel.


Kill her, take her money and with the help of it devote oneself to the service of humanity and the good of all. What do you think, would not one tiny crime be wiped out by thousands of good deeds? ... One death, and a hundred lives in exchange—it's simple arithmetic!

Student in tavern, Part 1, Chapter 6

This is part of Raskolnikov's rationale for the murder of Alyona, typical of the new moralities based on logic or reasoning. If a crime resulted in a greater good, it would not really be a crime. Unfortunately for Raskolnikov, more than simple arithmetic is involved. All humans hold life sacred, making killing a profound violation.


If he had to remain standing on a square yard of space all his life, a thousand years, eternity, it were better to live so than to die at once! Only to live, to live and live! Life, whatever it may be! ... How true it is! Good God, how true! Man is a vile creature! ... And vile is he who calls him vile for that.

Raskolnikov, Part 2, Chapter 6

Referencing a quote from the novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo (1802–1885), Raskolnikov wonders why people hang on to life, even when life is like standing for eternity on a tiny ledge without being able to move. He decides it is better to live, even in this torturous circumstance, than to die. People may act badly, but life remains precious.


Human nature is not taken into account, it is excluded, it's not supposed to exist! ... They believe that a social system that has come out of some mathematical brain is going to organise all humanity at once and make it just and sinless in an instant, quicker than any living process! ... The living soul demands life, the soul won't obey the rules of mechanics.

Razumihin, Part 3, Chapter 5

Razumihin identifies one major problem with socialism. Human nature doesn't follow neat mathematical rules. It is also the problem with Raskolnikov's plan—he overvalues reason and fails to take human nature, especially his own, into account.


In short, I maintain that all great men or even men a little out of the common, that is to say capable of giving some new word, must from their very nature be criminals—more or less, of course.

Raskolnikov, Part 3, Chapter 5

This is Raskolnikov's grand theory that spawns the murders. There are people in history who were destined to be great, and their greatness cost lives to achieve. In fact, he thinks that they "must from their very nature be criminals." Shouldn't they have the right to shed blood to achieve greatness? Of course, this theory does not work out well for Raskolnikov when he tries it himself.


It's not a matter of permission or prohibition. He will suffer if he is sorry for his victim. Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart. The really great men must, I think, have great sadness on earth.

Raskolnikov, Part 3, Chapter 5

Although the great can kill without being considered murderers, if they are smart, feeling individuals they will suffer in their hearts. Raskolnikov is projecting the pain of his own conscience onto his concept of the extraordinary man.


I did not bow down to you, I bowed down to all the suffering of humanity.

Raskolnikov, Part 4, Chapter 4

Sonia's willingness to sacrifice herself for her family and to take on his suffering as well inspires Raskolnikov to tell her she is a symbol of all suffering in the world.


Did I murder the old woman? I murdered myself, not her! I crushed myself once for all, forever. ... But it was the devil that killed that old woman, not I.

Raskolnikov, Part 5, Chapter 4

Raskolnikov recognizes that committing the murders has ended his life as he knew it. However, he is still not able to take responsibility for the murder. Here he finds a new source to blame: the devil.


What all men need is fresh air, fresh air ... more than anything!

Svidrigaïlov, Part 6, Chapter 1

Svidrigaïlov may be making a veiled reference to his knowledge of Raskolnikov's confession, joking that he should be going to Siberia, where there is nothing but fresh air. Fresh air is also a metaphor for how confession unburdens the soul, figuratively clearing the air. Either way Raskolnikov needs to confess.


Suffering, too, is a good thing. Suffer! ... Fling yourself straight into life, without deliberation; don't be afraid—the flood will bear you to the bank and set you safe on your feet again. ... You must fulfil the demands of justice.

Porfiry, Part 6, Chapter 2

Porfiry does not advise seeking out suffering, but he does recognize it as one of life's important experiences. He is optimistic that, if Raskolnikov moves ahead fearlessly and trusts in life itself, he can survive the suffering he will encounter once he confesses.

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