The central character of the novel is a young man named Raskolnikov who lives in a small rented room in St. Petersburg. For some odd reason he develops an idea that he should kill an old lady, who is a pawn-broker. After much pondering Raskolnikov sneaks into the old woman’s apartment and kills her with an axe. He also murders her half-sister. Nonetheless, apart from a few things he leaves the apartment untouched and does not take anything substantial from it. As Raskolnikov fled, he somehow fortunately managed to do so unseen and unobserved.
The plot of the novel takes various turns and twists with a number of events emerging as it progresses. But what is central to the novel is the thought process of Raskolnikov as he holds the secret of his crime in his heart. Even though nobody knew of his crime, his psychological bewilderment make him appear as a suspicious person. Eventually he discloses his secret to his beloved, Sonya. Despite there being a minimal practical chance of him being convicted, he eventually confesses upon Sonya’s persuasion. He is eventually sentenced to eight years of penal servitude in Siberia. Sonya follows him there too. After some time in the prison the process of his redemption and moral rehabilitation begin. This happens due to the affectionate influence of Sonya.
Reading Crime and Punishment can be an extremely depressing thing to do. A sensitive reader can himself go through various psychological phases during the read. The most tormenting thing here is of course to go through the tormenting thought process of Raskolnikov after he commits the murder. Putting oneself in the shoes of Raskolnikov is the other difficult thing to do. Actually it is not only difficult, it is unavoidable too. While reading the novel the reader unconsciously maps himself on to the circumstances and the personality of Raskolnikov. This adds further anxiety to the nerves of the reader. Visualizing about the poverty ridden circumstances of St. Petersberg is the last thing that keeps the reader melancholic for a few days of viscous reading. Through crime and punishment Fyodor Dostoyevsky creeps into the conscience of every one of its readers.
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