Crime and Punishment: Shmoop Study Guide


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Porfiry informs Raskolnikov that he knows who murdered the pawnbroker. After talking with Sonya, Raskolnikov fully confesses to the murder and is sentenced to eight years in a Siberian prison. Sonya follows him, and with her help, Raskolnikov begins his regeneration. Next About Crime and Punishment.

Removing book from your Reading List will also remove any bookmarked pages associated with this title. Are you sure you want to remove bookConfirmation and any corresponding bookmarks? Sign In. Crime and Punishment Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Shmoop: Study Guide for Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment

Pop Quiz! After his trial, where is Raskolnikov sent? Start Quiz. Adam Bede has been added to your Reading List! Dostoevsky was an active participant in a secret revolutionary society formed from among the members of the Petrashevsky Circle. The cell's founder and leader, the aristocrat Nikolay Speshnev , is thought by many commentators to be the principal inspiration for the character of Stavrogin.

The narrative is written in the first person by a minor character, Anton Lavrentyevich G—v, who is a close friend and confidant of Stepan Verkhovensky. Young, educated, upright and sensible, Anton Lavrentyevich is a local civil servant who has decided to write a chronicle of the strange events that have recently occurred in his town. Despite being a secondary character, he has a surprisingly intimate knowledge of all the characters and events, such that the narrative often seems to metamorphose into that of the omniscient third person.

According to Joseph Frank , this choice of narrative perspective enables Dostoevsky "to portray his main figures against a background of rumor, opinion and scandal-mongering that serves somewhat the function of a Greek chorus in relation to the central action. The narrator's voice is intelligent, frequently ironic and psychologically perceptive, but it is only periodically the dominant voice, and often seems to disappear altogether. Much of the narrative unfolds dialogically, implied and explicated through the interactions of the characters, the internal dialogue of a single character, or through a combination of the two, rather than through the narrator's story-telling or description.

In Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics the Russian philosopher and literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin describes Dostoevsky's literary style as polyphonic , with the cast of individual characters being a multiplicity of "voice-ideas", restlessly asserting and defining themselves in relation to each other. The narrator in this sense is present merely as an agent for recording the synchronisation of multiple autonomous narratives, with his own voice weaving in and out of the contrapuntal texture.

The novel is in three parts. There are two epigraphs, the first from Pushkin's poem Demons and the second from Luke — After an almost illustrious but prematurely curtailed academic career Stepan Trofimovich Verkhovensky is residing with the wealthy landowner Varvara Petrovna Stavrogina at her estate, Skvoreshniki, in a provincial Russian town.


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Originally employed as a tutor to Stavrogina's son Nikolai Vsevolodovich, Stepan Trofimovich has been there for almost twenty years in an intimate but platonic relationship with his noble patroness. Stepan Trofimovich also has a son from a previous marriage but he has grown up elsewhere without his father's involvement. A troubled Varvara Petrovna has just returned from Switzerland where she has been visiting Nikolai Vsevolodovich. She berates Stepan Trofimovich for his financial irresponsibility, but her main preoccupation is an "intrigue" she encountered in Switzerland concerning her son and his relations with Liza Tushina—the beautiful daughter of her friend Praskovya.

Praskovya and Liza arrive at the town, without Nikolai Vsevolodovich who has gone to Petersburg. Varvara Petrovna suddenly conceives the idea of forming an engagement between Stepan Trofimovich and Dasha. Though dismayed, Stepan Trofimovich accedes to her proposal, which happens to resolve a delicate financial issue for him. Matters are further complicated by the arrival of a mysterious "crippled woman", Marya Lebyadkina, to whom Nikolai Vsevolodovich is also rumoured to be connected, although no-one seems to know exactly how.

A hint is given when Varvara Petrovna asks the mentally disturbed Marya, who has approached her outside church, if she is Lebyadkina and she replies that she is not. Varvara Petrovna takes Marya and Liza who has insisted on coming with them back to Skvoreshniki. Praskovya arrives, accompanied by her nephew Mavriky Nikolaevich, demanding to know why her daughter has been dragged in to Varvara Petrovna's "scandal".

Varvara Petrovna questions Dasha about a large sum of money that Nikolai Vsevolodovich supposedly sent through her to Marya's brother, but in spite of her straightforward answers matters don't become any clearer. Marya's brother, the drunkard Captain Lebyadkin, comes looking for his sister and confuses Varvara Petrovna even further with semi-deranged rantings about some sort of dishonour that must remain unspoken. At this point the butler announces that Nikolai Vsevolodovich has arrived.

To everyone's surprise, however, a complete stranger walks in and immediately begins to dominate the conversation. As he is talking, Nikolai Stavrogin quietly enters. Varvara Petrovna stops him imperiously and, indicating Marya, demands to know if she is his lawful wife. He looks at his mother impassively, says nothing, kisses her hand, and unhurriedly approaches Marya.

She agrees and they leave. In the din that breaks out after their departure, the strongest voice is that of Pyotr Stepanovich, and he manages to persuade Varvara Petrovna to listen to his explanation for what has occurred. According to him, Nikolai Vsevolodovich became acquainted with the Lebyadkins when he was living a life of "mockery" in Petersburg five years earlier.

The downtrodden, crippled and half mad Marya had fallen hopelessly in love with him and he had responded by treating her "like a marquise". Varvara Petrovna is elated and almost triumphant to hear that her son's actions had a noble foundation rather than a shameful one.


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Under interrogation from Pyotr Stepanovich, Captain Lebyadkin reluctantly confirms the truth of the whole story. He departs in disgrace as Nikolai Vsevolodovich returns from escorting Marya home. Nikolai Vsevolodovich addresses himself to Dasha with congratulations on her impending marriage, of which, he says, he was expressly informed. As if on cue, Pyotr Stepanovich says that he too has received a long letter from his father about an impending marriage, but that one cannot make sense of it—something about having to get married because of "another man's sins", and pleading to be "saved".

An enraged Varvara Petrovna tells Stepan Trofimovich to leave her house and never come back. In the uproar that follows no-one notices Shatov, who has not said a word the entire time, walking across the room to stand directly in front of Nikolai Vsevolodovich. He looks him in the eye for a long time without saying anything, then suddenly hits him in the face with all his might.

Stavrogin staggers, recovers himself, and seizes Shatov; but he immediately takes his hands away, and stands motionless, calmly returning Shatov's gaze. It is Shatov who lowers his eyes, and leaves, apparently crushed. Liza screams and collapses on the floor in a faint. News of the events at Skvoreshniki spreads through society surprisingly rapidly. The main participants seclude themselves, with the exception of Pyotr Stepanovich who actively insinuates himself into the social life of the town. After eight days, he calls on Stavrogin and the true nature of their relations begins to become apparent.

There was not, as some suspect, an explicit understanding between them. Rather Pyotr Stepanovich is trying to involve Stavrogin in some radical political plans of his own, and is avidly seeking to be of use to him. Stavrogin, while he seems to accept Pyotr Stepanovich acting on his behalf, is largely unresponsive to these overtures and continues to pursue his own agenda. That night Stavrogin leaves Skvoreshniki in secret and makes his way on foot to Fillipov's house, where Shatov lives.

The primary object of his visit is to consult his friend Kirillov, who also lives at the house. Stavrogin has received an extraordinarily insulting letter from Artemy Gaganov, the son of a respected landowner—Pavel Gaganov—whose nose he pulled as a joke some years earlier, and has been left with no choice but to challenge him to a duel. He asks Kirillov to be his second and to make the arrangements. They then discuss philosophical issues arising out of Kirillov's firm intention to commit suicide in the near future. Stavrogin proceeds to Shatov, and once again the background to the events at Skvoreshniki begins to reveal itself.

Shatov had guessed the secret behind Stavrogin's connection to Marya they are in fact married and had struck him out of anger at his "fall". In the past Stavrogin had inspired Shatov with exhortations of the Russian Christ, but this marriage and other actions have provoked a complete disillusionment, which Shatov now angrily expresses. Stavrogin defends himself calmly and rationally, but not entirely convincingly. He also warns Shatov, who is a former member but now bitter enemy of Pyotr Verkhovensky's revolutionary society, that Verkhovensky might be planning to murder him.

Stavrogin continues on foot to a distant part of town where he intends to call at the new residence of the Lebyadkins. On the way he encounters Fedka, an escaped convict, who has been waiting for him at the bridge. Pyotr Stepanovich has informed Fedka that Stavrogin may have need of his services in relation to the Lebyadkins, but Stavrogin emphatically rejects this.

The Gambler

He tells Fedka that he won't give him a penny and that if he meets him again he will tie him up and take him to the police. At the Lebyadkins' he informs the Captain, to the Captain's horror, that in the near future he will be making a public announcement of the marriage and that there will be no more money. He goes in to Marya, but something about him frightens her and she becomes mistrustful.

His proposal that she come to live with him in Switzerland is met with scorn. She accuses him of being an imposter who has come to kill her with his knife, and demands to know what he has done with her "Prince". Stavrogin becomes angry, pushes her violently, and leaves, to Marya's frenzied curse. In a fury, he barely notices when Fedka pops up again, reiterating his requests for assistance. Stavrogin seizes him, slams him against a wall and begins to tie him up. However, he stops almost immediately and continues on his way, with Fedka following. Eventually Stavrogin bursts into laughter: he empties the contents of his wallet in Fedka's face, and walks off.

The duel takes place the following afternoon, but no-one is killed. To Gaganov's intense anger, Stavrogin appears to deliberately miss, as if to trivialize the duel and insult his opponent, although he says it is because he doesn't want to kill anyone any more. He returns to Skvoreshniki where he encounters Dasha who, as now becomes apparent, is in the role of a confidant and "nurse" in relation to him. He tells her about the duel and the encounter with Fedka, admitting to giving Fedka money that could be interpreted as a down payment to kill his wife.

He asks her, in an ironic tone, whether she will still come to him even if he chooses to take Fedka up on his offer. Horrified, Dasha does not answer. Pyotr Stepanovich meanwhile is very active in society, forming relationships and cultivating conditions that he thinks will help his political aims. By flattery, surrounding her with a retinue and encouraging her exaggerated liberal ambition, he acquires a power over her and over the tone of her salon.

He and his group of co-conspirators exploit their new-found legitimacy to generate an atmosphere of frivolity and cynicism in society. They indulge in tasteless escapades, clandestinely distribute revolutionary propaganda, and agitate workers at the local Spigulin factory. They are particularly active in promoting Julia Mikhaylovna's 'Literary Gala' to raise money for poor governesses, and it becomes a much anticipated event for the whole town. The Governor, Andrey Antonovich, is deeply troubled by Pyotr Stepanovich's success with his wife and casual disregard for his authority, but is painfully incapable of doing anything about it.

Unable to cope with the strange events and mounting pressures, he begins to show signs of acute mental disturbance. Pyotr Stepanovich adopts a similarly destabilizing approach toward his father, driving Stepan Trofimovich into a frenzy by relentlessly ridiculing him and further undermining his disintegrating relationship with Varvara Petrovna. Pyotr Stepanovich visits Kirillov to remind him of an "agreement" he made to commit suicide at a time convenient to the revolutionary society.

He invites Kirillov, and subsequently Shatov, to a meeting of the local branch of the society to be held later that day. Stavrogin, however, seems to be in a good mood and he willingly accompanies Pyotr Stepanovich to the meeting. Present are a wide variety of idealists, disaffected types and pseudo-intellectuals, most notably the philosopher Shigalyev who attempts to expound his theory on the historically necessary totalitarian social organization of the future.

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Born a Crime Summary & Study Guide

The conversation is inane and directionless until Pyotr Stepanovich takes control and seeks to establish whether there is a real commitment to the cause of violent revolution. He claims that this matter can be resolved by asking a simple question of each individual: in the knowledge of a planned political murder, would you inform the police? As everyone else is hurrying to assert that they would of course not inform, Shatov gets up and leaves, followed by Stavrogin and Kirillov.

Uproar ensues. Pyotr Stepanovich abandons the meeting and rushes after Stavrogin. Meeting them at Kirillov's place, where Fedka is also present, Verkhovensky demands to know whether Stavrogin will be providing the funds to deal with the Lebyadkins. He has acquired proof, in the form of a letter sent to Von Lembke, that the Captain is contemplating betraying them all. Stavrogin refuses, tells him he won't give him Shatov either, and departs.

Shmoop: Study Guide for Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment - Russia link - fanpop

Verkhovensky tries to stop him, but Stavrogin throws him to the ground and continues on his way. Verkhovensky rushes after him again and, to Stavrogin's astonishment, suddenly transforms into a raving madman. He launches into an incoherent monologue, alternately passionately persuasive and grovelingly submissive, desperately pleading with Stavrogin to join his cause. The speech amounts to a declaration of love, reaching a climax with the exclamation "Stavrogin, you're beautiful!

Verkhovensky's cause, it turns out, has nothing to do with socialism, but is purely about destroying the old order and seizing power, with Stavrogin, the iron-willed leader, at the helm.

Stavrogin remains cold, but does not actually say no, and Pyotr Stepanovich persists with his schemes. Social disquiet escalates as the day of the literary gala approaches.


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  • The Governor's assistant, under the false impression that Stepan Trofimovich is the source of the problem, orders a raid on his residence. Browse all BookRags Study Guides. Copyrights Born a Crime from BookRags. All rights reserved. Toggle navigation. Sign Up. Sign In. Get Born a Crime from Amazon. View the Study Pack. View the Lesson Plans. Order our Born a Crime Study Guide. Part 1, Section 1. Part 1, Section 2. Part 1, Section 3.

    Crime and Punishment: Shmoop Study Guide Crime and Punishment: Shmoop Study Guide
    Crime and Punishment: Shmoop Study Guide Crime and Punishment: Shmoop Study Guide
    Crime and Punishment: Shmoop Study Guide Crime and Punishment: Shmoop Study Guide
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    Crime and Punishment: Shmoop Study Guide Crime and Punishment: Shmoop Study Guide
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