Crime and Punishment

Marmeladov: Raskolnikov’s Mirror 12th Grade

In superstitions, a mirror is thought to be a reflection of one’s soul; this is why shattering a mirror was and still is considered bad luck. In Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, the concept of the reflected soul is used as an important tool of foreshadowing. However, rather than using a mirror, Dostoevsky uses characters to reflect the nature of others. The experiences of Seymon Zakharovich Marmeladov, a minor character, is used to reflect Raskolnikov’s process of guilt and confession. Raskolnikov and Marmaladov share similar experiences in dealing with their own demons.

When Marmeladov is first introduced, he is described as an unkempt man drinking away his sorrows: “There were bits of hay clinging to his clothes and in his hair. He had probably not undressed or washed for five days. His hands were especially dirty, greasy, red from exposure, fingernails black” (Dostoevsky 11). Marmeladov’s dirty hands symbolize that he has already sullied them with a crime: alcoholism. This vice has thrown his family into a vicious cycle of poverty that is nearly impossible to escape, to the point where Sonya, his daughter, prostitutes herself for a few roubles. As such, he is suffering from the remorse of being unable to break his...

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