Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov (“Rodya,” “Rodka”)--Central character
Alyona Ivanovna –the old pawnbroker who Raskolnikov murders
Lizaveta Ivanovna--sister to the pawnbroker. She’s also murdered.
Nastasya Petrovna (“Nastenka,” “Nastasyushka”) –servant in the house where Raskolnikov rents his small room. She keeps him alive by bringing him soup and bread.
Sofya Semyonovna Marmeladov (“Sonya,” “Sonechka”)--his love (daughter to Marmeladov)
Semyon Zakharovich Marmeladov--Alcoholic civil servant. Sonya’s father.
Katerina Ivanovna Marmeladov--Sofya’s mother
Polina Mikhailovna Marmeladov (“Polya,” “Polenka,” “Polechka”)--the oldest daughter of Katerina Ivanovna from a previous marriage
Pulkheria Alexandrovna Raskolnikova--Raskolnikov’s mother
Avdotya Romanovna Raskolnikov (“Dunya,” “Dunechka”)--sister of Raskolnikov
Pyotr Petrovich Luzhin--Fiance to Dunya. That breaks-up thanks to Raskolnikov
Andrei Semyonovich Lebezyatnikov--Luzhin’s roommate. He is arrested for ninhilism.
Dmitri Prokofych Razumikhin--friend, marries Raskolnikov’s sister
Porfiry Petrovich –Magistrate. Raskolnikov’s foe. Has a keen interest in psychology
Ilya Petrovich (“Gunpowder”)--policeman Raskolnikov runs into after committing the murders. He eventually confesses to him at the end of the novel.
Nikodim Fomich--amiable chief of police
Nikolai Dementiev (“Mikolka”)--a painter at the house where Raskolnikov committed the murders. He is suspected of the murder and imprisoned. He later makes a false confession.
Arkady Ivanovich Svidrigaïlov--evil man who killed his wife (Marfa Petrovna Svidrigaïlova) by poisoning her. He rapes women and has designs on Raskolnikov’s sister. He kills himself.
The book begins with Raskolnikov full of resentment : his career as a law student is on hold because he has been giving away the money he has (from his mother) to various people who desperately need it. He puts others above himself. From Nietzsche’s standpoint this is false aestheticism. If we buy into this interpretative lens, then Raskolnikov needs to act.
Again, he chooses a social goal: to kill an old pawnbroker who makes money at the expense of poor, struggling people. In this way he might be a quasi-Napoleon. (Remember, from the Russian standpoint Napoleon was a rascal invader that got his just deserts.)
So Raskolnikov carefully plans and murders the pawn broker. Her sister comes in at the end and is murdered, too. Raskolnikov collects some trinkets and the purse, but he realizes (after the fact) that this was not the reason he had committed the act. He walks about and decides to put the loot into a hole beneath a stone in a remote place.
Now the book begins. Exiting the building he has to hide to avoid detection by some painters. Then he runs into an angry cop. Raskolnikov is mentally unstable. He tries to clean up the blood with an obsessive nature (like Lady Macbeth).
He does it. Is everything okay?
No. His sister and mother are coming to town. They give him some money in the letter. Then there is a long period of Raskolnikov walking about with a fever coming home when he’s about to drop and then Nastasya gives him some weak soup and a piece of bread. Raskolnikov is thinking about the potential marriage of his sister to an unscrupulous lawyer and the possibility that he will be caught. He keeps repeating his theory (really Nietzsche’s) about supermen. Is he a superman? Raskolnikov is a bit of an egoist so he really thinks he might be. But events are not going as he thought they should.
Raskolnikov goes into a bar for a drink and meets Marmeladov. This is another person who has lost his bearings. He is drinking himself to death. He is spending the family money so that the only way to make things work is for his daughter, Sonia, to go into prostitution (yellow card).
Marmeladov gets lucky and is hit by a cart which leads to his death. Raskolnikov steps in to help (anti-superman activity) and gives all the money he has to the family for the funeral. It is then that he meets Sonia.
At the funeral Pyotr Petrovich Luzhin shows his evil self. He tries to say that Sonia stole money from him. But really he had stuffed a hundred ruple note into her dress pocket in order to frame her. Unfortunately for Luzhin, he was seen by another who also came to the funeral following the lawyer. The crowd turns away from Luzhin. He is never a power in the book again.
Then Svidrigaïlov comes to town also after Raskolnikov’s sister. He has gotten a good deal of money after poisoning his wife to death. After a scene in which he rapes a young girl, he gets Dounia into a situation in which she has to brandish a gun to protect herself from rape. The shot only grazes the man, but then he becomes upset at her so he hands over the key and Dounia escapes.
Svidrigaïlov gives some of his money to the children of the bereaved family. This means Sonia does not have to prostitute herself any more. Then Svidrigaïlov goes and kills himself after the turn-down by Dounia.
By this time Sonia has become a good friend of Dounia and Raskolnikov—so much so that Raskolnikov confesses his murder to her. Sonia is a good Christian so she tells Raskolnikov that his only option is to “kiss the earth and then confess to the world that he is a murderer.” She says that she will follow him to Siberia.
Given the two options of suicide or taking a prison term Raskolnikov does some walking to get his head together. He knows that his sister will be fine with his friend, Razumikhin. He tries to arrange that. It is time to take Sonia’s wooden crucifix and face his fate.
Raskilnikov goes to the police station to confront the policeman who ran into him just after the murder. Raskilnikov confesses. That is the end of the regular novel. In the epilogue Raskilnikov faces 8 years in Siberia due to his mental condition, his previous good works, and the fact that he does not try to dispute facts.
Sonia follows Raskilnikov to Siberia. She visits him regularly. She is seen by the other convicts as a “sister” and they adore her. She is the light of Raskilnikov’s redemption. He will be 32 when he gets out. He has changed. Sonia changed him. She is the Christ figure in the novel: Christ 1, Nietzsche 0. Game over.
I see the principal theme a tension between the Christian worldview of what makes a good person and Nietzsche (aka the nihilists—in Russian historical terms). This is the most powerful presentation via Fictive Narrative Philosophy of this theme. Compare to Nietzsche’s own attempt in Also Sprecht Zarathrusta. There is no comparison. This is one of the finest presentations of this theme. It beats Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope by a mile.
Attempt: *****/ Accomplished: *****
10-26-18/ Bethesda, MD