Part 1, chapters V-VII
1. Raskolnikovís first dream
does not have any unusual components (e.g. fantastic figures, actions that defy
the laws of physics), which would indicate that it is a dream. In fact, the
episode of the horse-beating could have been easily used as an insight into
Raskolnikovís inner world, his memories about memorable traumatic events. Why
did Dostoevsky choose to present this episode as a dream?
2. What message does the
horse-beating dream send to Raskolnikov? Does Raskolnikov get it? What impact
does this dream have on him?
3. What is the role of
Raskolnikovís first dream in the narrative?
4. What questions does
Raskolnikov ask himself after he wakes up from his first dream?
5. Dostoevsky continuously
emphasizes the unstable, feverish, agitated state of his protagonist. Why is
this state important for the interpretation of his intentions, thoughts and
6. After his first visit to
Aliona Ivanovna Raskolnikov overhears a conversation between an officer and a
student, who discuss benefits of murdering the old moneylender (Aliona
Ivanovna). What is the studentís rationale? What is the role of this conversation in the
narrative? What was its impact on Raskolnikov? Is it a coincidence that both
that student and Raskolnikov have the same thoughts about ďthe useless and
7. Raskolnikov believes that he met Lizaveta and overheard
the conversation about her next day appointment by chance. Another accidentally
overheard conversation was the tavern discussion between a student and an
officer of the moneylender Aliona Ivanovna and her sister Lizaveta. How much do
these coincidences contribute to Raskolnikovís decision to commit the murder?
8. What were other important incentives for Raskolnikovís
decision to commit murder?
9. What does Raskolnikovís
second dream, about a stop in some African or Egyptian oasis, tell us about him,
his mind and his intent? (P. I, ch. VI, 67)
10. On the day of the murder, Raskolnikov oversleeps and is
not on schedule. He is not sure what time it is (ďit could be 6Ē), is not
prepared for his venture, is overly agitated and is not in a good shape in
general. Why does he go ahead with his plan anyway?
11. What, according to Raskolnikov, gives away criminals?
12. What made Raskolnikov conclude that his murder was not a
13. When philosophizing about the illness that accompanies
crime, Raskolnikov is determined not get afflicted and therefore not to get
caught. Does he succeed?
14. What are the symptoms of Raskolnikovís ailment? Did its
onset occur before or after the murders?
15. Raskolnikov manages to come to the moneylenderís
apartment unnoticed; there are no neighbors on her landing, nor do his victims
make any noise. Finally, despite all odds, the murderer escapes unnoticed from
the crime scene. Would you say that he was incredibly lucky? Would you say that
his venture was a success?
16. The author gives a detailed description of the murder
and its aftermath. What do these event tell us about Raskolnikov?
17. What do the last lines of the Part I add to our understanding
of Raskolnikovís mind and state?
Part 2, chapters I-VI
1. What does Raskolnikov realize and what does he miss when
he wakes up on the second day after the murder?
2. How many times does Raskolnikov ask himself about what is
wrong with him when he wakes up on the next day after the murder? Why does he keep repeating this question?
3. After having received the summons to the police station
Raskolnikov falls on his knees to pray yet ends up not praying. Why?
4. What does the scene at the police station contribute to the
portrait of Raskolnikov, his inner world and his environment? Why, when at the
police station, does Raskolnikov reveal private information about himself?
5. Why did Raskolnikov faint at the police station?
6. Raskolnikov robbed the money-lender yet he did not even
look at what he had stolen. How do you explain this lack of interest? Why was
R. disheartened when he realized that he did not look at his loot?
7. Raskolnikov refuses to accept Razumikhinís help. Later on
he throws into the river Neva 20 kopeks, the only money he has and does not
want to accept the money sent to him by his mother. Why does he reject both
help and money? (115, 120)
8. Why, after waking up, does Raskolnikov think about fleeing to
9. What new details/facts does Raskolnikov learn from Razumikhin
and Zossimov about the murder investigation?
10. What prevents Razumikhin from believing that Mikolka (or
Nikolai) the house-painter is a valid murderer suspect?
11. How would you explain Mikolkaís (Nikolaiís) behavior and
12. Why is Petr Petrovich Luzhin not welcome when he visits Raskolnikov?
13. Razumikhin, Zosimov, Luzhin, as well as Raskolnikov
resort to science to support their arguments and views. In which ways do they
rely on science? What is the role of science in the novel?
14. As Luzhin, Razumikhin and Raskolnikov discuss the recent
murder of the pawnbroker as well as current crime tendencies they bring up
several important insights into the contemporary criminal minds. What are these
15. Raskolnikov is adamant to ďend all this immediatelyĒ
(Part 2, ch. VI, 155). He says that he ďdoes not want to live like this.Ē What
does he mean? What does he want to do?
Part 2, Chapters VI-VII, Part
3, Chapters I-III
1. In the end of Part 2, chapter VI, Raskolnikov goes to the
Haymarket, where he visits a tavern, talks to drunks and prostitutes, bluffs
with Zamiotov in the Crystal Palace, has a fight with Razumikhin, and revisits
the crime scene. What do his actions and itinerary tell us about his state of
mind, plans, objectives?
2. Why was Raskolnikov so enthusiastic about helping
3. What kind of person is Katerina Ivanovna? What are the
causes of her plight?
4. Just a little while ago Raskolnikov was ready to give
himself in, yet when he saw Nikodim Fomich, the head of the police station, he
did not. Why did he change his mind?
5. Why does Raskolnikov ask Polya to love him and pray for
him? Why did his short conversation with little Polya was so important to
6. When Raskolnikov goes to Razumikhinís house warming party
he says to himself that he needs strength and that strength is acquired by
strength (188). What does he mean?
7. Why does Raskolnikovís happiness vanish as soon as he
sees his mother and sister? Why does he faint?
8. Razumikhin, on the other hand, is eager and happy to help
Raskolnikovís mother and sister. What brings these three together? And why does
Razumikhin, literally overnight, become their confidant and almost a family
9. Having filled the women in about Raskolnikovís current
situation and illness, Razumikhin also comments on his friendís personality. As
he does so, Razumikhin reveals much not only about his friend but also about
himself. What do we learn about Raskolnikov and Razumikhin from the latterís
conversation with Pulkheriia Aleksandrovna, Raskolnikovís mother, and his
sister, Avdotya Romanovna (Dunia)?
10. Razumikhin also voices his insights regarding Duniaís
personality and her uncanny resemblance with her brother. Would you consider
her one of Rodion Raskolnikovís (albeit female) doubles?
11. Throughout this chapter there are multiple references to
Raskolnikovís health condition and alleged madness. What do Zossimov,
Razumikhin, Dunya and Raskolnikov himself think about his physical and mental
states? Whose comments do you consider the most perceptive?
12. In the first parts of the novel we encounter a
significant number of women who surround and influence Raskolnikov. Who are
these women? What do we know about their social standing and views? What role
do they play in the protagonistís life?
Part 3, Chapters IV-VII
1. What does Soniaís (Sofia Semionovna Marmeladova) visit
reveal to herself and other Raskolnikovís visitors about herself, him and the
2. How do Raskolnikovís friends and family view and treat
3. As Sonia and Raskolnikov part, a new character appears at
the scene. Who is he? What does he have in common with Raskolnikov, his family
or friends? (p. 243)
4. Sonia is a tenant of Kapernaumovs, whose name derives
from the famous Biblical/Gospels town Capernaum. What does this say about
5. Svidrigailov is Soniaís neighbor, but, even though they
live in the same building, he rents a room from a different landlady. What does
the author intend to tell us by this detail?
6. What kind of person is
Porfirii Petrovich? Does he look like a master detective? Does this novel need
a detective at all? Donít we know from the very beginning, who is the
7. What strategy does the
detective Porfirii Petrovich rely on?
8. What makes Raskolnikov think
that Porfirii Petrovich knows that he committed the crimes? (251)
9. What are Rozumikhinís
objections to the views of the socialists? How do the latter intend to instill
humanity with righteousness?
10. What does Raskolnikov have
to contribute to the debate about whether ďthere is such a thing as crimeĒ?
Does he really believe that crime is just ďan ordinary social questionĒ?
11. Why is the reader not given
an opportunity to read and personally assess Raskolnikovís article, but rather
has this article retold to her by Porfirii? Is Porfiriiís rendition of
Raskolnikovís article accurate? Does accuracy matter here?
12. To what extent, if at all,
are Raskolnikovís ideas original?
13. To what extent, if at all, do Raskolnikovís own ideas,
about which we learn from Porfiriiís account about Raskolnikovís article,
overlap with the ideas expressed in the tavern in the conversation between an
officer and a student?
14. Why does Porfirii consider it important to have
objective criteria for identifying extraordinary people? Does Raskolnikov agree
15. How does Raskolnikov relativize the crime?
16. In the end of part 3 Raskolnikov dwells at length on the
causes of his failure. What are they? Why does he adamantly refuse to ďforgive
the old croneĒ? (275)
17. What is Raskolnikovís fourth dream about? Whom does he
see in the dream? What does he feel about the circumstances and events in his
dream? What insights does he have in the dream?
Class 6 (1)
Part 4, Chapters I-IV
1. What do we learn about Svidrigailov
from his first conversation with Raskolnikov? What stories of harm to others
have been rumored about him? What do his dreams tell us of his psychic or
spiritual life? In which ways, if at all, is he an appealing character? In
which ways does Svidrigailov as described in this part of the novel differ from
the one, Pulkheriia Aleksandrovna, Raskolnikovís mother, described in her
2. How does Svidrigailovís
bath-house view of eternity (IV: 1) compare with Raskolnikovís image of
eternity as given in II: 6?
3. How do the
characters reveal themselves in the course of Duniaís and Luzhinís break-up
4. Why does Razumikhin defend
Rodion Raskolnikov before his sister Dunia, when Raskolnikov leaves his sister
and mother? Isnít Dunia right when she accuses her brother of being callous
with herself and their mother?
5. Why does
Raskolnikov come to Sonia? Is he repentant for his crime? How well does
Raskolnikov understand Sonia? Do we, readers, share his opinion of her?
6. What does Soniaís
room tell us about her? In which ways is her room different from the lodgings
of other characters, including Raskolnikov?
7. What does
Dostoevsky intend to communicate to his reader through the scene of the harlot
reading the story of Lazarus to the murderer?
8. What link does
Raskolnikov see between himself and Sonia?
9. How do you
understand Raskolnikovís statement, ďfreedom and powerópower above all. Power
over all the trembling vermin and over all the ant hill.Ē (IV: 4)?
Class 7 (2)
Part 4, Chapters V-VI, Part 5, I