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Sonia and Raskolnikov in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment

Sonia and Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment

Sonia and Raskolnikov are two characters that interact with each other in the novel, Crime and Punishment. They interact on multiple levels, sharing several likenesses. Both of these characters are at-times self-sacrificing, both are struggling for meaning in a dreary existence, and both are generally unhappy people, but brighten and seem to enjoy each other’s presence–even when Raskolnikov is berating her religion. What is self-sacrifice, for which these characters and so many people around the world engage in? It is a desire to help those around us more than we wish to help ourselves. This is not normal human state, although it can be brought about easily by societal pressures, and sometimes even political societies can compel this attitude. Sonia practices a form of altruism for her family however. She acquires a yellow card and takes her body off to the moral slaughter by sacrificing it to others for money–money that will go to her starving, poor family. Though not his predominant state of mind or action, Raskolnikov does have temporal tendencies towards self-sacrifice. It seems that part of his state of mind when considering the murder of the pawnbroker is that he will be helping society as a whole–definitely a motive that comes from outside the self. Sonia and Raskolnikov share many characteristics that make them an interesting encounter for each other. A tendency to self-sacrifice for one, and a life of it for another, provides for an amalgam of psychological likenesses which help the characters relate.

Due in part to their self-sacrificing lives, both characters are also trying to search for meaning in the dreary existence which they are subjected to. Sonia finds this meaning in the Bible, in a belief in God. Raskolnikov writes a theory. He finds solace in thinking that he himself is a god-like creature, he believes he is extraordinary. A belief in being a subject of the Divine and thinking that there are two divisions of men is extremely close. Both of these characters also have their meaning attacked. Porfiry Petrovich attacks and picks for holes in the theory of Raskolnikov. Perhaps as a reaction to this, Raskolnikov picks holes in the support for meaning in Sonia’s life–God, the Bible, and her faith. The final glues that continually attracts these two characters is the fact that all their morbid similarities bring them together so that they actually enjoy each other’s presence.

The Character of Dounia in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment

The Character of Dounia

Crime and Punishment Dounia’s commitment to her brother is unfaltering. Even when she is presented with the ultimatum of Luzhin, she continues to endure in her dedication and loyalty to her irritable and rascally brother. She realizes that making sure Raskolnikov is there will probably secure her fate in that she will not marry Luzhin. She refuses to do so though if he does not accept his brother. Dounia’s commitment and loyalty can be seen in her calm nature about the letter, her loyal response to it, and her actions when she goes to visit her brother–she regards his gestures and words with guarded skepticism, but realizes that he is at least “unfeigned” when grasping her hand. When Pulcheria shows Dounia the letter she doesn’t let her emotions go awry, but she reads the letter like a military sergeant on the battle field, simply carrying out the next order in an entire chain. She decides that she must talk to Raskolnikov before answering Luzhin or making her decision. She stands calm and collected in face of the massive divide and rift that has now been created in her life–she has been presented with a dilemma, she is going to be forced to choose between the one she loves and the one she feels “esteems her”. In the small garret of Raskolnikov, Pulcheria and Advotya go to see and confer with the now “well” Rodya. Dounia’s main purpose is to give Raskolnikov the option of whether he would like to come to their house when Luzhin is there. When her brother responds that it is essentially the women’s choice, Dounia is firm in her commitment that he must be there. She wishes to convince him that she is not doing it purely for his sake–but rather for her own. Raskolnikov’s chastising of her is ironic because she is only doing less blatant forms of actions he has already committed. Dounia, even after admitting that her marriage to Luzhin will help her very much, still loyally insists that Raskolnikov must be present for the meeting. She is willing to risk what she has professed is simply for her own sake. Her physical actions when she goes to visit her brother are an amalgam of compassion and skepticism. She is intelligent enough to realize that the things Raskolnikov is saying seem feigned, as if he had a script written for him.

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