Crime and Punishment Plot Summary
A poor (former) university student struggles for nearly a month with thoughts of murdering an old woman, a pawnbroker, whom he considers a leech on society. After a "experimental" visit to the old pawnbroker, Raskolnikov meets a man named Marmeladov at a tavern, who confesses that his drinking problem has been the cause of his family's poverty, which has forced his daughter, Sonia, into a life of prostitution. Raskolnikov accompanies Marmeladov home, where he witnesses firsthand the family's misfortunes.
Raskolnikov receives a letter from his mother, informing him that his sister, Dounia, is engaged to a rich businessman named Luzhin, and that they are going to visit him in St. Petersburg.
Still struggling over his theories and ideas, Raskolnikov discovers, by chance, that the old pawnbroker's dimwitted half-sister is going to be out at a certain time. He cannot pass up this opportunity. But after murdering the old woman, he also kills the sister who walks in on him. Despite his mistakes, Raskolnikov, through chance and good fortune, barely escapes without notice. Shortly after the murders, Raskolnikov falls ill. His friends, Razumihin and Zossimov try to help him recover.
Wavering between feelings of empowerment and guilt, Raskolnikov almost confesses to the police about the murders. But Raskolnikov is distracted by the death of Marmeladov, who dies in a carriage accident. Raskolnikov gives money to his widow. He also meets Marmeladov's daughter, Sonia, whose self-sacrifice and suffering greatly affect him.
His mother and sister's visit further complicates Raskolnikov's life because he disapproves of his sister's marriage to Luzhin. Meanwhile, Raskolnikov discovers that the police is suspecting him. While being hotly questioned by the chief examiner, Porfiry, Raskolnikov is let off the hook by an unexpected confession from Nikolay, a painter, who is one of the suspects in the murders.
But unable to bear the burden of his guilt, Raskolnikov chooses to tell of his crime to Sonia. Svidrigailov, a man who tried to seduce Dounia when she worked at his home, tells Raskolnikov that he overheard his confession. Svidrigailov manages to maneuver around Raskolnikov and get Dounia alone with him. But instead of taking advantage of her, he lets her go and then shoots himself.
Raskolnikov goes to visit his mother for the last time, knowing that he will soon turn himself in. He parts in bitter tears. With Sonia's encouragement, Raskolnikov walks to the police station and confesses that he is the murderer. Raskolnikov is sentenced to eight years of hard labor in Siberia. As promised, Sonia follows him there. Sonia's patient love for him finally breaks through and Raskolnikov experiences rebirth and resurrection.