Crime and Punishment Summary and Analysis
Part Four, Chapters 1-6
Raskolnikov, on hearing the name of his visitor, is not sure whether he is awake.
Svidrigailov tells him that he is there for two reasons: because he has been interested in meeting Rodya, and because he would like his help in a matter regarding Dunya. When Rodya scoffs, Svidrigailov eloquently starts to argue that he, perhaps, was the true victim in the affair. Rodya cuts him off and tells him, "You are quite simply digusting," and tells him to leave.
But Svidrigailov instead laughs merrily and commends Raskolnikov for not allowing him to dodge around him. He starts to talk about Marfa Petrovna and his life with her. He had been in debtor's prison, and Marfa Petrovna had bailed him out, after which they had married. From his talk, Raskolnikov guesses that he misses her. Svidrigailov says he might, then asks Rodya if he believes in ghosts. This is because the ghost of Marfa Petrovna, he says, has visited him three timeseach time he is awake. Rodya surprises both of them by wondering why he had suspected as much.
After a strange and awkward exchange, Rodya asks what Marfa Petrovna talks about. Svidrigailov exclaims that she talks about worthless things, and gives an account of her visits. It is not the first time he has seen a ghost. Rodya tells him to see a doctor; Svidrigailov replies with a bit of edge that Rodya is the last person to recommend a doctor, seeing the state he is in.
Rodya tells Svidrigailov that he believes in neither ghosts nor an afterlife. Svidrigailov gives his thought that perhaps the afterlife is a small, dirty room infested with spiders. Raskolnikov cries out, "Surely you can imagine something more just and comforting!" But Svidrigailov says that it may be just that way, and he would choose it that way if he had any say in the matter.
Rodya demands that his visitor tell him his business. Svidrigailov tells Rodya that Luzhin does not deserve Dunya and their engagement should be broken off. To Rodya's sarcasm, he replies that he is not trying to benefit himself because he no longer feels any love for Dunya, though he freely admits that when he left Moscow to go to Petersburg he had planned to propose to her. He explains that upon his arrival, he decided to make a voyage somewhere, and wishes to settle this business as part of his preparations. He wants to explain to Dunya that "she will get not the slightest profit from Mr. Luzhin, but instead, and quite certainly, there will be a clear loss." He is prepared to offer her 10,000 roubles to break it off, to which, he adds, she may not be completely adverse.
Rodya is indignant at this, but Svidrigailov insists that he does not wish to "buy [himself] off" for the trouble he had caused Dunya, only that he wants to do something for her. He may even be about to marry a certain girl, which will clear any suspicion from his act. He asks Rodya to convey his message to Dunya. Rodya refuses, but Svidrigailov tells him that in that case he will try to arrange a personal meeting with her himself, so Rodya decides to consider it as long as Svidrigailov does not attempt to see her. (This point is not entirely resolved.)
Rodya asks about Svidrigailov's voyage. The man does not directly answer, laughing that he may get married instead of going. As he gets up to go, he tells Rodion that Dunya has inherited 3,000 roubles in Marfa Petrovna's will. He runs into Razumikhin on his way out.
Though Raskolnikov denies it, the similarities Svidrigailov sees between them are striking. When Svidrigailov tells him about the ghost of Marfa Petrovna, there ensues a very odd and inconclusive exchange, which while it does not directly yield much information, does set up some sort of bond between them. It is as if they can understand each other on a deeper, instinctual level.
In addition, Rodya tells Svidrigailov that he should see a doctor, and suspects that the man is mad. This is particularly ironic since, of course, Rodya has been ill and many people suspect him of madness due to the unpredictability and intensity of his behavior. Svidrigailov indeed exhibits some of the characteristics Rodya has shown: talking about a voyage one minute, forgetting about it the next, and generally being inconsistent. Rodya's inconsistencies are more violent and show themselves in mood swings, while Svidrigailov's have more to do with the run of his thoughts.
These two men are similar because both are haunted by crimes. Both are criminals suffering the psychological effects of having committed acts of depravity. Svidrigailov, underneath his smooth facade, has lived a life of ruining others and possibly murdering them (it is not clear how much of a role he played in the death of Marfa Petrovna). Rodya has committed only one crime, but it is taking its toll on him. Therefore, while their situations are oddly similar, the two men are different in some fundamental way: notably that Svidrigailov is a seasoned criminal while Rodya is just a novice. (It could even be said that Svidrigailov is Rodya 20 or 30 years into the future, if Rodya continues on his current path.) Above all, Svidrigailov appears weary of his despicable life, as one might after years of debauchery.
A clear illustration of this lies in their discussion of the afterlife. Svidrigailov has an unpleasant vision of what lies in the great beyond: a small, dirty room with spiders. Raskolnikov denies believing in the afterlife but, upon hearing Svidrigailov's version, falls into revealing that he actually does believe in one that is better than Svidrigailov's portrait. He exclaims that Svidrigailov must be able to envision something more "just and comforting," which seems to indicate that he does hold an image of what the afterlife must hold. Svidrigailov's reply is telling: perhaps, he says, that is just. For a tiny filthy room crawling with spiders to be just indicates something about the life of the man who would deserve it.
As they hurry to Balakeev's, Razumikhin asks Rodya about Svidrigailov. Rodya briefly tells the story of Dunya's ill-fated employment, and expresses a great fear of him. He entrusts Dunya's protection to Razumikhin.
Razumikhin tells him that he went to Porfiry's after dining with Dunya and her mother. There he tried to talk to Porfiry, but achieved nothing. Zamyotov had been there as well but they had not spoken at all. On his way out, however, it dawned on him that since Rodya had nothing to do with the crime there was no point in making a big deal of it all. Outwardly Rodya agrees, but is struck wondering what Razumikhin will say when he finds out the truth.
Luzhin arrives at about the same time. Everyone sits down at the table, embarrassed. The conversation does not go smoothly. Pulcheria Alexandrovna brings up Marfa Petrovna's death again. Luzhin mentions that Svidrigailov is in town, surprising and worrying the ladies. He talks about Svidrigailov with great dislike and contempt, and tells them that Svidrigailov had possibly driven a young girl of 14 or 15a relative of Madame Resslich, Svidrigailov's current landladyto commit suicide because he had raped her. The story, however, was covered up by Marfa Petrovna and her money. He also adds that Svidrigailov had driven a servant, Filipp, to his death as well. (Svidrigailov himself mentioned this servant to Rodya as the first ghost he had seen.)
Dunya doubts this last story, giving her reasons. She asks Luzhin to stop talking about Svidrigailov, but Rodya suddenly tells everyone that the man had just gone to see him. He tells Dunya that she has inherited 3,000 roubles from Marfa Petrovna, but does not tell them what the true purpose of the visit was, saying he will tell them later.
Luzhin tries to leave, and Dunya stops him. She explains that she has brought the men together so that they would make peace. She brushes aside Luzhin's "touchiness," insisting that she is acting as judge in the matter, and that if they do not reconcile she will have to choose between them. Luzhin protests, and then asks Pulcheria Alexandrovna to explain how she had conveyed to Rodya his words about the advantages of marrying a poor girl. Dunya turns the tables on him by pointing out that he had written something untrue about Rodya that very morning with regard to the money he gave Katerina Ivanovna Marmeladov. Luzhin is angry; Rodya tells him he is not worth Sonya's little finger.
Luzhin gets up and haughtily expresses his wish that he should not be subjected to "such meetings" in the future. Offended, Pulcheria Alexandrovna asks whether they should take his every wish as an order, and points out that Luzhin, after having put them in such a difficult situation, ought to be particularly sensitive to their needs.
Foolishly, Luzhin makes a snide remark about Dunya attaching a "pleasant significance" to Svidrigailov's hitherto unheard propositions. Dunya, enraged, tells him to get out. He does not understand, and tells her to be careful because he might not come back. She exclaims that she does not want him to come back. As the realization hits, Luzhin turns nasty and an argument involving both the ladies ensues. Luzhin takes a parting shot in saying that he may have been unwise to "disregard public opinion" about Dunya when he proposedand narrowly risks being beaten to a pulp by the incensed Razumikhin. Rodya prevents this, however, and tells Luzhin to get out, or else.
Luzhin leaves, hating Rodya completely, yet somehow thinking he might still have a chance to reconcile with Dunya and her mother.
Everything about Luzhin has been confirmed. He is petty, though comically so (Dostoevsky notes that when irritated, he resembles a "sack of flour" more than a socialite), and ridiculously arrogant. He believes that he is a godsend to these helpless ladies. Even Dunya notices this when he makes a remark on her having inherited from Marfa Petrovna: "Judging by that remark, it may be supposed that you were indeed counting on our helplessness." So secure is he in his supposed power over these supposed helpless and fawningly grateful ladies, that he is truly surprised and uncomprehending when Dunya kicks him out. Indeed, even after he leaves he cherishes the idea or even the expectation that things can be smoothed over, despite the fact (which he does not see) that he has shown his true, and not so pleasant, colors to the company.
Still, it does take some time for Dunya to give up on him and kick him out. This begs the question: Had she really believed so much good about him? "Be the noble and intelligent man I have always considered and want to consider you to be," she says. But it is all to clear that Luzhin is neither noblemaking shamefully cruel and dishonest digsnor intelligent. How is it, then, that she has allowed her engagement to him to persist for so long? The only explanation is that Dunya, being noble and intelligent herself, and additionally engaged in some form of self-sacrifice whether conscious or unconscious, cannot possibly see Luzhin's faults. She may even have refused to see them in the interests of maintaining harmony. It is only when Luzhin takes a low blow at her honor that she finally breaks with him, in high indignation. The engagement has been prevented after all, with almost no effort on Rodya's or Svidrigailov's partindeed, almost singlehandedly because of Luzhin himself.
The theme of stepping over a line, which has been seen before, recurs here in Luzhin's words. He tells Dunya that he cannot forgive Rodya's insults because "there is a line in all things that it is dangerous to step over; for once one steps over, it is impossible to go back." The context here is pettythe proud and intolerant Luzhin is speaking of social proprietiesbut the words resonate with previous comments of a similar nature regarding other contexts. In Part III, Chapter 3, Rodya says contemptuously to Dunya, "You'll come to a certain line, and if you don't cross it, you'll be unhappy, and if you do, maybe you'll be even more unhappy." Here the conversation is revolving around "the right to do a good deed," but it speaks directly to Rodya's situation. He had been unhappy contemplating his crime for a month, and once he crossed that line and committed the murder, he found himself even more miserable. Finally, Rodya has spoken about the "extraordinary" person's right to "step over" commonly accepted lines of morality and acceptable behavior. He has theorized that such people can do so in pursuit of a larger idea without being wrong. Yet, he has tried it, and has found to his dismay just how well Luzhin's words apply: he cannot go back.
A final note: the descriptions of Svidrigailov's behavior and possible crimes seem to back up the idea that Svidrigailov is truly a criminal. However, the fact that Dunya defends him is intriguing. Why should she defend someone who had offended her and caused her so much trouble?
Luzhin has been completely taken off his guard by his unexpected banishment from Dunya's graces. He is remarkably vain and loves his money, which has lifted him from his humble origins. In fact, he is in love with the idea of "elevating" Dunya to his level. He had built up an image of the ideal girl for him to marrysomeone who was so poor and battered by life that she would regard him as her savior. Dunya had surpassed his ideal, and he had hoped for her to be by his side as he tried to climb the Petersburg social ladder. And now he has been rejected! He hates Raskolnikov and fears Svidrigailov, and is resolved to win Dunya back by the next day.
Back in the Balakeev rooming house, there is much rejoicing at the breaking of the engagement. The ladies are thankful that they have been saved from such a man; Razumikhin is overjoyed that Dunya is once again free, though he is afraid to think beyond devoting himself to serving them for the rest of his life. Rodya sits thinking of something.
They ask him what Svidrigailov's business had been. He tells them about it. They ask his interpretation. He is uncertain, citing Svidrigailov's inconsistencies and possible madness. Dunya thinks about Svidrigailov's offer, and senses that "he's contemplating something horrible!" Her extreme fear is noted by her brother. Razumikhin tells Dunya he will protect her.
A little later, Razumikhin is eagerly pressing the Raskolnikov ladies to remain in Petersburg, where he will go into a business venture with them: setting up their own little publishing press so as to publish translations of profitable books. Dunya is very excited. Rodya tells them it is a good idea.
As Razumikhin is planning how to move the ladies to a more respectable room, Rodya gets up to leave. Tortured by their exclaiming questions, he tells them that he must not see them for a while, and that if they love him they will leave him alone. He leaves his mother and sister in pain and indignation, respectively.
Razumikhin runs after him. Rodya tells him to take care of them and turns to go. Razumikhin is astonished, but Rodya once again tells him to never leave Dunya and her mother. In the dark hallway they exchange a long lookthrough which Razumikhin suddenly feels that Rodya has transmitted a horrible secret to him. "You understand now?" Rodya whispers, and then leaves.
Razumikhin goes back to console the ladies, and from then on is "their son and brother."
Luzhin represents pride, the original sin of man, in a very direct way. Full of himself, he wishes to be a savior to the lucky woman he happens to marry, to be worshipped and thanked and obeyedin short, to be a god. He loves his money because "it [makes] him equal to all that [is] higher than himself." In other words, he has always striven to move higher and higher, and his hope of Dunya was that she could help him to ascend socially while in their married life "he would rule boundlessly and absolutely!" Though he has grown somehow fond of her, it is "in his own way; he was already her master in his dreams." His love is truly aimed at himself, and himself alone.
Razumikhin is exactly the opposite, not even daring to dream that he could ever marry Dunya. But he devotes himself to her and her mother. His plans for the future are both practical and optimistic. Characteristically, Razumikhin's business plan is, essentially, to disseminate ideasperhaps again in the ultimate search for truth which Razumikhin symbolizes.
Rodya's approach to love is different even from these two extremes: he seems frozen, no longer able to love anyone. He leaves just as things with his family and Razumikhin are getting good. It is as though he can't bear happiness, or to be with people who love him. He, selfishly, calls on their love to leave him alone, because their love lies heavy on him. It must be that he, in his psychological illness, cannot love himself, and therefore cannot accept the love of others. This theme repeats itself throughout the novel.
When Svidrigailov is mentioned, Dunya asks Rodya his impressions of the man. Rodya replies that he is unsettled by Svidrigailov's inconsistent, even deranged behavior. Dunya shudders at what Svidrigailov could be planning. The irony is that Raskolnikov himself has been making everyone around him uneasy with the very same kind of behavior. Again, this may be because the two men have similarly diseased psyches. Dunya's fear of Svidrigailov is not yet extended to her brother because she does not see the similarities between the two men.
Razumikhin, however, does taste fear regarding Rodya. Through the strange, telling stare at the end of the chapter, Raskolnikov transmits the truth to Razumikhin without speaking. This is his ideal confession, and one which he has been attempting to solicit all along from various others. For instance, he taunted Zamyotov, half-hoping that the man would believe him and take him to the police station. He also similarly taunted the men at Alyona Ivanovna's house, agreeing with them that he should be taken to the station. But no one has done so yet. Raskolnikov has not spoken the words of his confession completely seriously to anyone; in piercing Razumikhin with this look, he still manages to avoid having to say it definitively.
Raskolnikov heads straight for Sonya's house. She lives in a big, oddly-shaped, sparsely-furnished room between two other apartments.
After a silence, Rodya starts to speak. He tells her that he may be seeing her for the last time. He looks at her and his demeanor suddenly changes to compassionate gentleness; he invites her to sit down and takes her hand. But his expression changes again and he asks her about her life with the Kapernaumovs.
He knows something about it already, though, and when she asks, he tells her that her father had told him everything, including about her. Sonya tells him that she thinks she saw her father earlier that day. When Rodya asks her whether Katerina Ivanovna had beaten her, she becomes excited, defending her poor stepmother and telling Rodya he knows nothing.
Rodya asks what they will do now, especially since Sonya is burdened with taking care of them all. She tells him about how Katerina Ivanovna is losing her mind, alternating between terrible despair and fantasies of a better life in which she truly believes.
Rodya starts pressing her with merciless questions about what she will do if Katerina Ivanovna dies and she herself takes ill. Desperately, she places her faith in God to protect her little family. Rodya suggests, with sadistic laughter, that God may not exist, upsetting poor Sonya finally to tears.
There is a silence as he paces and she weeps. At last he goes to her and looks at her; suddenly he bends down and kisses her foot.
Sonya withdraws, terrified, but her heart beats painfully. Rodya tells her he was bowing not to her but "to all human suffering." He mentions that he has spoken very highly of her to others, and she exclaims that she is "a great sinner." He takes this up with a sudden strange glee, agreeing that she is a sinner because she has prostituted herself for nothing. He says it would make more sense for her to drown herself than to be as she is, with such sin coexisting in her with her holy feelings.
If she did so, Sonya asks him dully, what would happen to her family? Rodya suddenly looks at her. He realizes that she herself has considered suicide already, and understands simultaneously her suffering at her shame and the magnitude of her love for Katerina Ivanovna and the three children.
He tries to understand what has kept Sonya's soul pure and untouched by the shame which has only touched her outward levels. He figures that she has only three choices: to drown herself, to go insane, or to throw herself into licentiousness and debauchery. He cannot accept this, and wonders if she is mad already.
He asks her if she prays a lot, and her answer shows how devout she is, answering his inner question. He asks her questions, testing her, but she sternly and wrathfully reproaches him with his unworthiness. She is so worked up that he decides she must be a holy fool.
He picks up a book from her dresser; it is the New Testament. He discovers that Lizaveta had given it to Sonya. He asks her to read him the story of Lazarus.
She starts out falteringly, but as she continues her strength builds. She even thinks to herself that Raskolnikov must believe after the power of this story.
There is a long silence after she has finished.
Rodya breaks it by announcing to her that he has broken with his mother and sister, and that she, Sonya, is the only person left to him. "Let's go together!" Now it is Sonya's turn to think he is crazy. She does not understand. He tells her that she, too, "stepped over" by destroying a lifeher own life. He rambles on wildly, addressing other topics that are clearly relevant to him but certainly not to her, and finally tells her that if he comes to her the next day, he will tell her who killed Lizaveta.
He leaves Sonya feeling like they both must be insane. She is frightened by his words about Lizaveta, but also excited by how he had kissed her foot and made it clear that he needed her. She cannot sleep but fitfully.
On the other side of one of the doors, in an uninhabited apartment, Svidrigailov has been standing and listening to the conversation. He has enjoyed it so much that he places one of his own chairs next to the door so as to be able to listen in greater comfort.
It is significant that after leaving his family, Rodya goes to Sonya. She is the only person he feels he can turn to, because he knows she is "a sinner" and yet she has somehow maintained a purity of soul which shines in her eyes. Their attraction is based on suffering: she sees his unhappiness, and he marvels that her suffering has not destroyed her. She is shockingly innocent, childlike even in appearance, despite her profession. Rodya seems possessed by a double-edged feeling for her: on the one hand, he loves her somehow, yet on the other, he wants to torment her and see her pain. After causing her to break down into tears, for example, he bends down and kisses her foot. In some way his attraction to her is driven by his wild curiosity and incomprehension of how she can live so shamefully yet still maintain her holiness. His lack of faith and emphasis on hyperrationalism render him unable to truly understand her.
His definition of a sinner, tellingly, is one who "destroys and betrays oneself in vain." Sonya, he says, has done just that: she has entered into a life of dishonor to help her family, but will never be able to help them enough. Clearly he feels that he has done the same with his own life: by murdering, he has destroyed and betrayed himself, yet he has not achieved the greatness he thought he would find. Because they are on the same plane, Rodya is able to hear and even talk about Lizaveta with Sonya because the latter is not a threat to him in any way.
He promises Sonya a very odd confession: he will tell her and her alone who killed Lizaveta, but he will not ask forgiveness. This may be because he assumes it already. But it is just as likely that he does not wish to be forgiven, because forgiveness does not fit into the equation of his theory.
There is an intriguing intersection of madness and religion in this chapter. Raskolnikov thinks Sonya is mad, specifically that she is a "holy fool" or "fool for Christ." (The concept of the "holy fool" is well-known in Orthodox Christianity.) Perhaps with a hint of contempt, Raskolnikov assumes that she is mad because he cannot understand that her faith sustains her. Interestingly, and probably more correctly, she thinks he is mad as well. Her conclusion may indirectly be because of his lack of faith, since his faithlessness has created a void in him which all his rationalism cannot fill. At any rate, it is a strange sort of humor that each should think the other mad.
The reading of the story of Lazarus may well be the center of the book. In the Orthodox tradition, death and sin are closely related, and the resurrection of Lazarus represents a triumph over both. The central tenet of the story is faith: Jesus says to Martha, "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." As she is reading, Sonya hopes that Rodion will be affected by the story and believe, too. Though he is silent for a while after she finishes, there is no clear indication of what affect, if any, the reading has had on him. The story, however, and its eternal message of faith, continue to resonate through the book.
The next morning at 11:00 Rodya shows up at the office of Porfiry Petrovich. He is surprised at having to wait. He wonders about the man who had called him a murderer; since no one is pouncing on Rodya immediately, he assumes that either the man had not gone to the police yet, or that he had been a hallucination. He decides to maintain an attitude of cold silence as much as possible.
He is called in and finds Porfiry alone. Porfiry seems embarrassed or awkward. Rodya watches him suspiciously.
After some abortive attempts to begin conversation, an angered Rodya is led to realize that he may have stepped into some sort of trap, and that Porfiry may not have been embarrassed about anything at all. He insists on either being asked questions or being permitted to leave. Porfiry hastily tries to placate him, and he sits down frowning.
Porfiry babbles on and on, nearly running back and forth. Rodya notices that he seems to pause by the door, as though listening for something, and is immediately suspicious.
Porfiry goes into a rather revealing monologue regarding his own methods, specifically, that sometimes it is beneficial to wait a while before arresting a criminal, because in the interim the criminalfeeling increasingly that he is being watchedwill likely stumble into an incriminating act. He emphasizes the importance of being psychologically captive even when the criminal is physically free to walk around. He likens the criminal to a moth and himself to a candle: the criminal will circle around and around until at last, he flies straight into "Porfiry's mouth."
Rodya realizes how intelligent this man is, and starts trying to figure out why Porfiry is being so obvious with him. He cannot conclude anything firmly, and resolves to remain silent.
Porfiry rattles on, somehow working in a reference to Napoleon on his way to talking about "this particular case." "Suppose," he says, the criminal lies, seems to get away with it, but suddenly "he faints, in the most interesting, the most scandalous place." Porfiry uses other thinly-veiled examples of Raskolnikov's behavior to argue that human nature is on the investigator's side.
Rodya stands up and loudly denounces Porfiry for suspecting him of the crime, and insists that he will not stand for such mind games. When he shouts and bangs his fist on the table, Porfiry, alarmed, begs him to calm down, opens a window and grabs a drink of water for Rodion. He mentions how Razumikhin had gone to see him and asks indirectly whether Rodya sent him; Rodya says he did not.
After Rodya calms down, Porfiry reveals that he knows about Rodya's visit to the apartment and how he asked about the blood and rang the doorbell so many times. Porfiry presents it as though Rodya has been stewing with so much indignation at being suspected that he has become morbidly fascinated with the case. Rodya stares at him, not sure whether to believe him or not. Porfiry continues, and tells him he should take better care of his health, that he has been acting under delirium. Rodya, enraged and trying to figure out what Porfiry is doing, insists he was not delirious.
Porfiry takes this and tells him that if he were really a criminal, he would say he was delirious, and he would also say that Razumikhin had gone to Porfiry of his own accord "but you precisely stress that it was at your instigation!" This, of course, is a lie, and Rodya says so.
Porfiry tells him that he truly likes him and wishes him well, and then proceeds to point out that Rodya's insecurity has caused him to lose perspective: if Porfiry had really suspected him, he would not have told him he knew about the visit to the apartment until after he had lulled him into a sense of security.
Rodya exclaims that Porfiry is still lying, though he does not understand why. Porfiry says that if this is so, why should he have handed to Rodya all sorts of defenses for his actions? Rodya, annoyed, gets up again and demands to know whether Porfiry thinks him free of suspicion or not. He gets louder as Porfiry dodges the question, and Porfiry suddenly orders him to be quiet. Puzzled and startled, Rodya obeys, but even though he is whispering now he still insists on leaving.
As he heads for the door, Porfiry grabs him and merrily asks if he wants to see the surprise which is behind the door. Rodya, fearful, explodes into screaming accusations. There is a noise behind the door. Rodya guesses that officials, witnesses, etc. are coming. But what actually happens surprises them both. . .
As he walks into the station, Rodion is expecting attentioneven though it would be of a negative sort. He is almost disappointed at the lack of reception: "it was obvious that none of them had any idea who or what Raskolnikov was." This betrays that Rodya still wishes to be great somehow. If his greatness was not in the crime (as he has already realized), it should be in his denunciation and capture. But again, he is disappointed: no one pays any special attention to him.
Porfiry is the novel's resident psychologist, and an important voice, as he puts into words much of what is actually happening but is clouded by Raskolnikov's swirling thoughts and paranoia. He is inscrutablean indispensable quality for how he approaches his workand highly intelligent. His analysis of the psychology of the right time for arrest is particularly penetrating. He explains to Rodya that this varies from case to case, and in some cases it works to his advantage to allow the criminal to walk around for a little while. In the first place, it gives him the time to come up with solid proof of the criminal's guilt. But, and far more importantly, allowing the person to remain free for a while also has vital psychological effects. If he did not, says Porfiry, he "might well deprive [himself] of the means for his further incrimination." This he explains with reference to the criminal's psychology: in a sense, arresting the criminal would give him some sort of security, anchoring him in the knowledge that he has been detained for the crime. This could work against the investigator because if the criminal were allowed to remain free for longer, his uncertainty and paranoia would work him into such a state that he would finally do something that would provide indisputable proof of his guilt.
Intriguingly, Porfiry takes the same technique with Rodya as Rodya took with Zamyotov, namely, talking "theoretically" about what he might do in a given case, all the while detailing exactly his methods. He confounds Rodya completely, mixing up his lies with moments of real (and generally peculiarly incisive) truth. His behavior itself, to Rodya's further confusion, seems to dart from sly trickery to natural and honest solicitation. What Rodya does not see is that he himself, though to a lesser degree perhaps, has been mixing lies with truth and behaving erratically as well. This echoes his ironic uneasiness regarding Svidrigailov's inconsistency.
The specter of madness swirls about Rodya through this chapter. His lack of reception at the office leads him to suspect that the man who called him a murderer may have been a hallucination. Porfiry, while playing with Rodion's psychological state, also tells him to take care of himself, because he is doing so much in his delirium. "I shall tell you that, for all your wit, your insecurity has made you lose a sober view of things," he tells Rodya. He may in fact be telling him that he has lost control of his reason and willthe very fate Rodya had planned to avoid in committing his crime. He in fact taunts Rodya into such a rage that the latter loses control, prompting Porfiry to say, "One could hardly give onself away any more, my dear Rodion Romanovich." But he is not complaining: this very madness is what he counts on.
There is a slight commotion at the door, and despite Porfiry's protests, a prisoner named Nikolai bursts into the room. He falls on his knees and starts to pour out a confession, saying that he is the murderer of Alyona Ivanovna and Lizaveta. Everyone is watching and stunned.
Porfiry is visibly irritated, and has at various points exclaimed that this was the wrong time. He starts to question Nikolai, and notes that his responses are not his own words. Then he remembers Rodya, and hurries him out of the office. Rodya, though he does not completely understand what is going on, is cheerful enough to make a sly dig at Porfiry's not expecting this.
As he is leaving, Rodya is stopped once more by Porfiry, who rushes out to the stairs to tell him they will certainly meet again. Rodya is so cheered that he even apologizes for losing his temper in Porfiry's office.
Rodya goes straight home and tries to puzzle through what has transpired. He knows Nikolai's confession has bought him some time. But he also knows he has compromised himself too much over the course of the conversation. Finally he gets up to go. Feeling safe for today, at least, he cheers up and wants to rush to Katerina Ivanovna's, to attend the memorial meal, where he will see Sonya.
He is about to open the door, when suddenly it is opened by the man who had yesterday called him a murderer. Rodya is terrified, but the man bows deeply to him and apologizes for having suspected him. The man tells him that he had told Porfiry about the apartment incident. He had been listening behind the partition the entire time, listening to Porfiry tormenting Rodyahe was, in fact, the surprise. After explaining everything, the man asks Rodya to forgive his "slander and wickedness." Rodya murmurs, "God will forgive," and the man leaves.
In joy, Rodya realizes that "now everything's double-ended," i.e. Porfiry has not a shred of evidence that he can make stick. He goes on his way, the fight in him renewed.
The unexpected event is recounted through how Raskolnikov recalled it later, most likely to show it was a memorable and important moment in the course of events. And truly, Nikolai's confession is remarkable. The man is obviously determined to confess to a crime he did not commit. As must be, something doesn't ring true, and Porfiry knows it. "He's not using his own words!" he says. Raskolnikov notices this and uses it to jab at Porfiry on his way out, though he still does not understand exactly what has transpired.
As though to parallel Nikolai's confession, the tradesman who had called Rodya a murderer enters the room and bows deeply to him, begging his forgiveness. Both confessions absolve Rodion from concrete suspicion, allowing him to escape from facts into double-endedness. It is highly ironic that other people's confessions should clear Rodion from sin (at least in terms of appearances).
It is intriguing that Rodya answers the tradesman's request for forgiveness with, "God will forgive." Does he truly believe this? Does his response come from simply from joy or have Sonya's words had an effect on him? It does not seem likely that he is ready to embrace her views, since the chapter ends with his renewed confidence in himself to survive through his cunning alone. Once again he is arrogant, not believing that, after this, any investigator will be able to make a case against him stick. In some way he believes himself all-powerful, almost godlike, a hint reinforced by the tradesman's asking him for forgiveness.
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