Crime and Punishment Chapter 21
Svidrigailov asks Raskolnikov to arrange for him a meeting with Dounia. Raskolnikov refuses. Svidrigailov explains that, being a man of the flesh, he finds nothing wrong in having once made advances to Dounia. Claiming that his conscience is clear, he justifies beating his wife, Marfa Petrovna, right before her death. Raskolnikov wants to walk out, but something about this man intrigues him. Svidrigailov continues with his story of how nearly seven years ago, he went to prison because of a gambling debt and was redeemed by Marfa Petrovna for thirty thousand roubles. They married and went off to the country, where Marfa Petrovna kept Svidrigailov from leaving by hanging the I.O.U. over his head. But a year ago, Marfa Petrovna gave him the document as well as huge sum of money.
Svidrigailov asks Raskolnikov whether he believes in ghosts. Svidrigailov explains that he has seen Marfa Petrovna three times since she died. He recounts each of her visit, all very trivial. On the last visit, Svidrigailov says he told Marfa that he wants to get married. Svidrigailov adds that he has seen another ghost once before, a servant with whom he had gotten into a dispute before he died. Raskolnikov tells Svidrigailov to see a doctor. Only ill people can see the existence of another world, Svidrigailov theorizes. Raskolnikov tells him that he does not believe in a future life. Svidrigailov wonders if there are only spiders there, which makes Raskolnikov think that the man is mad. Raskolnikov asks why he has come. Svidrigailov's mission is to prevent Dounia from marrying Luzhin and to offer her ten thousand roubles as a way of repaying her for the grief he caused her. He expresses no ulterior motive, even revealing that he is engaged to a young girl. Still, Raskolnikov refuses to set up a meeting with Dounia. Svidrigailov is confident that he will see Dounia with or without Raskolnikov's help. Before leaving, he asks Raskolnikov to tell Dounia that Marfa Petrovna has left her three thousand roubles in her will. On his way out, Svidrigailov runs into Razumihin in the doorway.