Notes on Characters from Crime and Punishment

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Crime and Punishment Major Characters

Raskolnikov (Rodion Romanovitch) (Rodya): The main character of the book, Raskolnikov is a poor, self-introspective university student who murders an old pawnbroker and her dim-witted sister in order to test his ideas about his conscience and desires, the moral law and human nature. After the murder, he goes through a journey of affirmations, self-doubts, guilt, and run-ins with a variety of experiences and people, driving him to ultimately confess to the murders and suffer the consequences of his actions.

Alyona Ivanovna: An old pawnbroker and moneylender who lives with her dim-witted half-sister, Lisaveta, Raskolnikov considers Alyona to be a worthless louse of society because of her miserly, uncharitable ways. Raskolnikov murders her as an experiment.

Marmeladov (Semyon Zaharovtich): A former government clerk, Marmelodov recounts his pitiful life story to Raskolnikov in a tavern. Raskolnikov learns that Marmelodov has a wife and three young children from a second marriage and a young daughter, Sonia, from his first. His family is in severe poverty because of his drinking problem. Marmelodov dies in a carriage accident and Raskolnikov spends considerable time and effort to help his family.

Katerina Ivanovna: Marmelodov's proud, suffering wife, she is well-educated and from a good family background. She is a widow with three small children before marrying Marmeladov. Even though she is ill with consumption, Katerina works night and day, struggling to keep the family properly fed and clothed. When the family is evicted, she nearly goes crazy and shortly after, dies from her illness.

Sonia (Sofya Semyonovna Marmelodov): Marmelodov's young daughter from his first marriage, Sonia is a sacrificial, kind-hearted person who becomes a prostitute in order to support her family. Raskolnikov sees in her a pure, innocent soul to whom he confesses his murder. She urges Raskolnikov to confess to the murder and pledges to follow him to his impending punishment. In the end, it is Sonia's suffering, sacrificial love that allows Raskolnikov to hope for his 'resurrection.'

Pulcheria Alexandrovna Raskolnikov: Raskolnikov's mother, she is a woman of strong religious faith who shows love and concern for her firstborn son. In her letter to Raskolnikov, she expresses how she is willing to do anything to see her son successful and happy. But Raskolnikov's behavior makes her fearful. When Raskolnikov is sent off to Siberia, she is told that he has gone off in a business proposition. But before she dies, she reveals more knowledge of Raskolnikov's situation than she let on.

Dounia (Avdotya Romanovna): Raskolnikov's younger sister, Dounia is a strong-willed and sacrificial person. She agrees to marry Mr. Luhzin for the benefit of her family, and especially her brother. Razaumihin immediately falls for her. She manages to avoid the evil intentions of her former employer, Svidrigailov. And after Raskolnikov leaves for Siberia, she and Razumihin get married.

Svidrigailov (Arkady Ivanovitch): An enigmatic, often heartless, sometimes generous man, Svidrigailov is reputed to have been partly responsible for several deaths, including his wife's. A man who lives without a conscience and only for his fleshly desires, Svidrigailov comes to St. Peterburg to pursue Dounia. Witnessing Katerina Ivanovna's death, Svidrigailov provides for the funeral arrangements and places the children in an orphanage. By chance, he overhears Raskolnikov's confession to Sonia. He uses the information to get Dounia alone with him, but lets her go. Afterwards, he shoots himself.

Pyotr Petrovitch Luzhin: An established, well-to-do lawyer with posts in the government, Luzhin is engaged to Raskolnikov's sister, Dounia. Luzhin wants to marry her as soon as possible and open an office in St. Petersburg. Raskolnikov takes an immediate dislike of his character, believing Luzhin to be self-serving and hypocritical. In the meeting with the family, Luzhin shows his true colors whereby Dounia promptly breaks off the engagement. In a plan to exact revenge on Raskolnikov and restore his standing with Dounia, Luzhin unsuccessfully frames Sonia of stealing his money.

Razumihin (Dmitri Prokofitch): A university friend of Raskolnikov, Razumihin is described as a gentle giant with a positive attitude no matter how difficult the situation. He is a genuinely likable fellow whom Raskolnikov trusts. Razumihin takes care of Raskolnikov while he is ill and watches over Raskolnikov's mother and sister while they visit. He immediately falls in love with Dounia and later marries her.

Lizaveta Ivanovna: The dim-witted half-sister of the old pawnbroker, Lizaveta is a gentle soul who does everything to please everybody. She is a good friend of Sonia. Lizaveta accidentally walks in while Raskolnikov is murdering the old woman and becomes a victim herself.

Porfiry Petrovitch: The chief examiner of the murder case and Razumihin's uncle, Porfiry Petrovitch takes a particular interest in Raskolnikov. Porfiry is up to date on the latest theories of criminology and believes that Raskolnikov is guilty of the crime. In order to catch Raskolnikov, he employs various psychological tactics and methods. Convinced that Raskolnikov is an exceptional young man, Porfiry tries to get Raskolnikov to admit to the murders, take his just punishment, and become a reformed member of Russian society.

Minor Characters

Amalia Ivanovna (Amalia Ludwigovna) (Madame Lippevechsel): The German landlady of Marmelodov's residence, Amalia is a feisty, hot-tempered woman who tries to hide her German accent. She drives Sonia out of her lodgings after she finds out about the yellow passport. She also gets into several confrontations with Katerina Ivanova and eventually evicts the whole family.

Nastasya: The cook and servant at Raskolnikov's residence, Nastasya is a talkative country peasant who is easily influenced by appearances. She takes pity on Raskolnikov and tries to help him get better.

Praskovya Pavlovna: Raskolnikov's shy landlady, to whom he is heavily in debt, she goes to the police to get him to pay. Raskolnikov had been pledged to marry her lame daughter before her death. Razumihin makes a favorable impression on her, thereby gaining many favors from her.

Marfa Petrovna: A woman with a rich estate to whom Dounia works as a governess, Marfa blames Dounia for her husband's (Svidrigailov) infidelity. After she finds out the truth, she goes out of her way to restore Dounia's good name. Marfa's marriage to the younger man, Svidrigailov, is full of hidden stipulations. She dies under suspicious circumstances, with rumors that her husband might have poisoned her. Svidrigailov purports to see her ghost.

Zametov: The head clerk at the police station, Zametov is a young man who is known to indulge in women and bribery. At a tavern, Raskolnikov tells Zametov how he would have committed the murders had he been the murderer. This makes Zametov suspicious of Raskolnikov.

Ilya Petrovitch: The assistant superintendent of the police station, Ilya Petrovitch is a hot-tempered man with whom Raskolnikov exchanges barbs during his first visit to the police station. Raskolnikov calls him 'the explosive lieutenant.' Raskolnikov later confesses his crime to him.

Nicodim Fomitch: The superintendent of the police station, Fomitch is handsome, competent, and compassionate.

Zossimov: A young doctor and friend, Zossimov shows an interest in Raskolnikov's psychological state of mind. Zossimov is particularly fascinated by madness. In a sense, Raskolnikov is his first patient and so he spends time trying to help him recover from his mysterious illness.

Nikolay: A young painter who is working at the building when Raskolnikov commits the murders, Nikolay becomes the main suspect when he pawns a box belonging to the old woman. During Porfiry's interrogation of Raskolnikov, Nikolay unexpectedly confesses to the crime. Porfiry believes that Nikolay's confession is due to his religious conviction that suffering is good.

Andrey Semyonovitch Lebezianikov: A young clerk in the ministry and Luzhin's friend, Lebazianikov is an ideal progressive who believes in communal living and ending prejudices. He lives in the same building as Katerina Ivanova. Luzhin stays with him while in St. Petersburg. Lebezianikov uncovers Luzhin's plan to frame Sonia of stealing a hundred rouble note.

Polenka: The oldest child of Katerina Ivanovna's first marriage, Polenka is a pretty girl of ten years who is mature for her age. She takes care of her younger siblings and provides companionship for her mother. Raskolnikov tortures Sonia with the possibility that Polenka might someday follow in her ways. After Katerina's death, the three children are placed in an orphanage by Svidrigailov

Kolya and Lida: The children of Katerina Ivanovna, Lida, a girl, is the youngest child and Marmeladov's favorite. Kolya, a boy, is the middle child.

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