Crime and Punishment Chapter 35
Svidrigailov tells the story of his relationship with his late wife, Marfa Petrovna. Told that he cannot remain faithful to her, she makes him promise not to leave her if she consents to his weakness. So when Dounia is hired, Svidrigailov keeps his distance, knowing how much Marfa adores her. It is Dounia, however, who first approaches Svidrigailov. Having heard from Marfa about her husband's depravities, Dounia confronts him one day about leaving a certain girl (whom he had been taking advantage of) alone. After that comes repeated requests and even tears in hopes of changing him. Svidrigailov is so taken with Dounia that he is ready to do anything to have her. His plans are thwarted by Marfa Petrovna (the story recounted in the mother's letter).
Hearing this, Raskolnikov is even more convinced that Svidrigailov has plans to harm Dounia. Svidrigailov reminds Raskolnikov that he is already betrothed to girl, not more than sixteen years old. Raskolnikov is aghast at Svidrigailov's depravity. How can this monster help Marmelodov's children with pure motives? Raskolnikov wonders. Svidrigailov tells him other stories of his predatory behavior in order to get a rouse out of him. When they part ways, Raskolnikov notices Svidrigailov's unusual preoccupation, as if he were up to something.