Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment Summary and Analysis of Part One, Chapters 5-7

Chapter 5:

Raskolnikov continues to be distracted by his automatic going to Razumikhin, trying to figure out why he had been going there. Suddenly, he decides he will go to him the day after "that" (i.e. the unnamed crime). Just as suddenly, he demands of himself whether "that" will ever really happen, and he jumps up from the bench.

He is about to head home, but the thought repulses him. He walks on feverishly until he finds himself facing the Islands‹a group of small islands in the Neva delta where wealthy people had summer homes. He takes pleasure in the freshness and cleanliness of those surroundings, but soon is pained and irritated by them. On he walks, numbly and mindlessly observing his environs, counting his money, calculating how much he had left at the Marmeladovs'. He enters a nearby cook-shop, where he drinks a glass of vodka and eats a piece of pie. The vodka makes him sleepy and he turns around intending to go home, but he only gets so far before leaving the road and collapsing into sleep on the grass.

He dreams a strange and disturbing dream, in which he is seven years old and walking with his father in the late afternoon of a feast day. He recalls every detail of the little town. He and his father are walking past the tavern toward the cemetery. Outside the tavern stands a very large cart to which a small, skinny mare is harnessed. A group of drunken peasants comes boisterously out of the tavern; one of them, a young beefy man called Mikolka, shouts that he will take everyone for a ride in his cart. His invitation is greeted with derision and laughter, the general observation resting on the age and unfitness of the nag. Mikolka, however, swears he will make her gallop, and brandishes his whip with relish at the idea. Several men and one woman get in; everyone both in and around the cart is laughing at the idea. Two other men take whips to help Mikolka "whip her up."

Predictably, the horse can barely move the cart. The crowd and passengers laugh, but Mikolka is angered and beats the horse savagely. The young Raskolnikov protests to his father in fear and sadness, but his father tells him, "Come along, don't look!" The child breaks away from his father and runs to the horse, which is struggling painfully. Some remonstrances come from the crowd, but Mikolka is impervious. The mare starts to kick. Two men from the crowd grab whips and begin to beat the horse from the sides; Mikolka shouts at them to beat her on the eyes, and they do. Everyone starts to sing. Raskolnikov is crying and shouting and wringing his hands, but no one stops the outrage. The mare starts to kick again, though she is practically dead. Mikolka, enraged, grabs a shaft from the cart and, shouting "It's my goods!", brings it down heavily on the horse. However, she is not killed, and she even tries to drag the cart forward under three more blows and endless whipping. Mikolka grabs an iron crowbar and beats the mare with it until she dies. There is some reproach from the crowd. Raskolnikov is in a frenzy, and embraces and kisses the poor beast, then flies at Mikolka in a rage. His father grabs him and takes him out of the crowd.

Raskolnikov awakens damp with sweat, and is profoundly thankful that it was only a dream. But he buries his head in his hands and asks himself whether he will really kill "her" with an axe and steal from her‹at last, the unnamed crime is named.

He draws himself up with the thought that he knows he would not be able to endure committing such a crime‹so why has he been torturing himself for so long? This thought seems to clear his mind somewhat, and he feels relieved of a burden. He prays for guidance, saying, "I renounce this cursed . . . dream of mine!"

He feels calm, at peace, free as he gazes at the Neva.

He returns home via a long detour through the Haymarket (which he later regards as a strange twist of fate), and there hears Lizaveta Ivanovna, half-sister of the pawnbroker Alyona Ivanovna, talking with a tradesman and his wife. The couple convince Lizaveta to see them the next day between 6 and 7 pm to arrange some sort of deal.

Raskolnikov leaves, possessed by the thought that at exactly 7:00 the next evening, the pawnbroker will be at home alone. He feels that he no longer has freedom of mind or will, and that the course of events has been abruptly and irrevocably set by this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.


Raskolnikov's psychological disease, his schizoid fluctuations, continue as his "pleasant sensations [turn] painful and irritating" as he gazes upon the mansions of the rich. Dostoevsky's style in this section mirrors Raskolnikov's inability to think clearly about anything important: he very simply describes Raskolnikov's random and unrelated acts, with no analysis, just as Raskolnikov is performing them without thinking. Clearly our protagonist is suffering both mental and physical strain from his month of brooding morbidly.

Raskolnikov's dream is heavy with symbolism, not least because dreams play an important role in the novel due to their link with the unconscious and the psychological (with which, of course, Dostoevsky is highly concerned). On the uppermost level, the dream reveals the cruelty we have seen again and again, while throwing into relief Raskolnikov's essential horror at it. More importantly, however, is that the mare may symbolize the women being sacrificed for the survival of their men. "It's my goods!" Mikolka shouts over and over again, as though giving voice to the buried assumption of men like Marmeladov and, perhaps, Raskolnikov himself, if he allows his sister to marry Luzhin for his sake. In addition, as we discover, the brutal slaying of the horse symbolizes and perhaps foreshadows the murder of Alyona Ivanovna, which has obsessed Raskolnikov for the past month. He even calls this fantasy a dream, once he has temporarily recovered his reason: "I renounce this cursed . . . dream of mine!"

This latter moment brings up another theme, that of freedom vs. slavery. There are multiple forms of slavery that we have seen so far: enslavement to poverty, to mad desires, to the exigencies of a cruel system. Raskolnikov's moment of spiritual awakening and freedom from obsession is one of the few instances of true freedom we have seen so far, and it is sadly short-lived. It is intimately linked with religious spirituality as Raskolnikov, for the first time in the book, prays for guidance.

Raskolnikov's religious revival is replaced by superstition the moment he comes across Lizaveta in the Haymarket. Immediately he is back where he started, unable to think clearly, enslaved to the idea that his obsession must be realized. Dostoevsky may be making an oblique comment on faith, notably that Raskolnikov's must not have been very strong if it could be so easily overthrown. Temptation has drawn Raskolnikov off the path to freedom and back into bondage to his own madness. Raskolnikov's sense of inexorable fate in this instance will be seen later as well.

Chapter 6:

As Raskolnikov later discovers, the business the trade couple has with Lizaveta involves her acting as a middleman for a poor family forced to sell off their goods. Lizaveta is successful at this sort of thing, since she is very honest and always names a fair and final price.

Though the matter is an everyday one, Raskolnikov has become too superstitious to help seeing it as a very odd coincidence.

He recalls another "odd coincidence," which occurred just after the first time he had seen Alyona Ivanovna to pawn a ring Dunya had given him. Even that first encounter spawned an intense loathing in him, which stirred a strange thought in his head. He stopped for tea at a tavern, preoccupied by this idea.

Next to him sat a young officer and a student, who brought Raskolnikov out of his thoughts by mentioning Alyona Ivanovna. This coincidence startled Raskolnikov, but what followed surprised him even more as the student began describing the woman's life and character in great detail. The two men discussed Lizaveta as well, and Raskolnikov learned that Lizaveta was 35, Alyona's younger half-sister, and virtually enslaved to the pawnbroker. Awkward but somehow pleasant-looking and kind, Lizaveta was constantly pregnant.

The student clearly liked Lizaveta but added that he could kill and rob Alyona with not a shred of remorse. Raskolnikov started. The student asked the officer whether the thousands of lives that could benefit from Alyona Ivanovna's money would not make up for the "tiny little crime" of killing her‹a stingy, cruel old woman whom everyone hates‹and taking her money to put it to use for the good of humankind. The officer responded by asking the student whether he himself would kill her. The student replied that he certainly wouldn't. The officer rejoined, "If you yourself don't dare, then there's no justice in it at all!"

At the time, Raskolnikov had been amazed and agitated that the student had expressed the exact thoughts that he himself had had. There seemed some sort of predestination in it.

Now he throws himself on the sofa and falls into a heavy sleep. He is awakened by Nastasya the next morning. She is indignant at how much he sleeps, especially as she comes back a few hours later and finds him lying there with his food untouched. She wonders if he is sick. After she leaves, he eats a little and has strange daydreams about being in an oasis drinking clear water and enjoying fresh air. . .

Suddenly the clock strikes, waking him up. He does not know the time, but he has spent the entire day and not done a single thing to prepare. He launches into feverish action. His first task is to sew a loop into his coat, to hold the axe so that he could walk with it completely concealed. He then takes his "pledge"‹a piece of wood bound to a strip of iron, created to appear like a silver cigarette case, and tied and wrapped up in a complicated manner that would slow the woman down.

Suddenly he hears someone shouting that it is long past six. Startled, he rushes to his door and then starts downstairs. His last task is to steal an axe from the kitchen.

In his long analysis prior to this day, he had begun with the question of why crimes should be so easily solved. His conclusion was that the criminal would experience a "failure of will and reason" which would ultimately lead him to make a mistake leading to his detection. Raskolnikov decided that in his case he would allow no such "darkening of reason," and had planned out every detail so that he should be in control of his will and reason throughout the crime; but somehow, even as he makes the final preparations, he cannot believe that he is really going to go through with it.

Unfortunately for him, Nastasya is in the kitchen hanging laundry, so there is no way for him to go in and steal the axe. Forced to keep walking, Raskolnikov is greatly upset at his missed opportunity, and stops at the gateway, uncertain as to his course. His eye falls on a gleam coming from the caretaker's closet. He enters the room, determines that no one is home, and pulls out the gleaming object, which is an axe lodged between a couple of logs under a bench. He slips out, and no one has noticed.

Encouraged, he strolls along as inconspicuously as possible, trying to move casually although a clock indicates it is already 7:10. Somehow he is occupied with completely irrelevant thoughts on his way.

He manages to slip into Alyona Ivanovna's house unnoticed, and climbs the stairs to the fourth floor, where she lives. Her neighbors have moved away and the stairwell is quite empty. "Shouldn't I go away?" pops into his head, but he does not bother to address his own mental question. He tries to calm down, but his heart insists on pounding harder and harder until finally he rings the bell.

There is no answer, but Raskolnikov knows she must be at home. He listens carefully and senses that someone is behind the door, hiding and listening. To dispel any suspicion, he makes a movement and murmurs something, and rings once more, calmly. The latch is lifted.


Through the student's discussion of Alyona Ivanovna, Dostoevsky implies a contrast between Christian acts and Christian institutions. Her money has been "doomed to the monastery," a true waste, as the student sees it, for it will just sit in the coffers or be used only within the monastery, while outside the world is suffering and poor.

He then goes on to posit the big question: "Wouldn't thousands of good deeds make up for one tiny little crime?" The intellectualization of this problem, of course, is what has preoccupied Raskolnikov for the past few weeks. This may be simply the rationalization of a poor and lonely student attempting to couch the impulse to commit a desperate act within academic language.

Raskolnikov is once again caught in his own schism. He obsesses over the plan until he says to himself, "Why not go and try it‹enough of this dreaming!" (once again referring to his violent fantasy as a dream). Yet even as his plans become acts‹as he prepares for his crime‹he is unable to believe in them, and begins to search for objections as a way out. The fact that he cannot find any objections indicates a clear moral gap. It could be conjectured that Raskolnikov's apparent lack of religion or faith (perhaps as a result of a highly Westernized education) has created this void, and thus his downfall. (In fact, "raskolnik" means "a schismatic," with reference to the 17th-century schism in the Russian Orthodox Church.)

Perhaps ironically, Raskolnikov places a good deal of value on reason. His conclusion on why criminals get caught is that they lose control of their reason and make mistakes; he plans to retain a firm hold on his. Clearly this is an over-intellectualization, since in boiling the murder down to a theoretical problem, he has completely lost perspective of the greater moral issues. Again, this coincides with Dostoevsky's message that Western social theories are not all as ideal as they were made out to be.

In addition, the inapplicability of such ideas to Russia is seen in Raskolnikov himself. His feeling of being impelled by unseen forces to carry out his crime belies his rationalization that he will have control over everything through his will and reason. Try as he might, Raskolnikov cannot deny his emotions and natural human impulses. He is very afraid, and out of control since giving himself up to the powers of his plan. Things rush on, and he cannot even control his heart rate, giving the whole thing a sense of inevitability.

Finally, the specter of disease crops up again. From the start of the novel it has been clear that Raskolnikov is ill psychologically and, apparently, physically as well. As he prepares for and starts to execute his grisly plan, he again manifests "symptoms" of his disturbance. But what is intriguing is the fact that he considers the typical criminal's loss of reason and will to be a disease. "The question whether the disease generates the crime, or the crime somehow by its peculiar nature is always accompanied by something akin to disease, he did not yet feel able to resolve." It seems clear, however, that this question will certainly be resolved over the course of the novel.

Chapter 7:

The door is opened a crack and two eyes peer out at him mistrustfully. Flustered, Raskolnikov pushes his way past her into the apartment. She chases after him, demanding who he is and what he wants. He tells her she knows him already and offers her the "pledge." She stares at him without taking it until, somehow afraid of her glance, he bursts out with impatience. Finally she takes it and starts trying to unwrap it. Surreptitiously, he takes hold of the axe and, when she turns to him in vexation, hits her on the head with the butt-end. She falls, and he hits her twice more till she is dead.

Trying not to stain himself with her blood, he takes her keys and goes into the bedroom. Seized by a sudden uncertainty that she may not be dead, he rushes back. It is clear she is dead, but he notices something on a string around her neck, and takes it‹a purse with two crosses. He takes the purse and drops the crosses on the body, then returns to the bedroom.

After some agonizing failed attempts to use the keys, Raskolnikov remembers that the large key must be for some sort of trunk. He finds the chest under the bed, opens it, and rummages through the clothes he finds to discover that numerous gold objects have been hidden among the folds. Immediately, he starts stuffing his pockets with these.

Suddenly, he hears footsteps. He freezes. There is a soft cry of pain. After a moment, he grabs his axe and rushes out of the bedroom.

There stands Lizaveta. She sees him, and backs into a corner, never even screaming or making an effectual movement to defend herself. He rushes at her and strikes her on the head with the sharp edge, splitting her skull.

This unexpected second murder grips Raskolnikov with animal fear. He cannot think clearly, cannot see the situation as a whole. He notices a bucket of water in the kitchen, and goes to wash his hands and the axe. He tries to inspect his clothes as well, but he knows that he may be missing something obvious, and fears that he is losing his reason. Panicked, he thinks he must run away, and rushes to the entryway of the apartment.

There he finds that the outside door, between the entryway and the stairs, is open! He realizes that Lizaveta must have opened it on her way in. In terror, he runs to the door and hooks it. After a moment, he unhooks it again and listens in the stairway. When at last, things seem to subside, he steps out‹but then hears new footsteps. Somehow he knows these are destined for the pawnbroker's apartment. He is frozen to the spot, feeling as though he is in a dream, until the footsteps reach the fourth flight, and at that point manages to slip into the apartment and quietly close and hook the door. He crouches behind the door, listening.

The visitor, who sounds to Raskolnikov as though he is rather portly, rings the bell a couple of times, then starts tugging at the door with all his might. Raskolnikov feels like he is about to faint. The visitor shouts through the door and rings again.

Another person joins the large gentleman, whom he addresses as Koch. Raskolnikov guesses from his voice that the newcomer is younger. The two men outside the door discuss why no one is answering, and conclude that it is strange that Alyona Ivanovna should be out. Just as Koch is ready to leave, he gives the door a final tug, and the younger fellow notices that the door must be hooked but not locked, since it gives when Koch pulls it. That means someone must be inside, otherwise the door couldn't be latched from inside and would have to be locked from outside.

Koch sees the young man's logic, and starts to tug again, but the young man stops him, knowing something is not right. He decides that he should run downstairs to fetch the caretaker, while Koch should stay there just in case.

The young man, a future public investigator, rushes downstairs. Koch stays for a while, his presence sending Raskolnikov into a delirium of fear. At last, suddenly, Koch impatiently runs downstairs.

Raskolnikov, still not quite thinking, opens the door and listens; and abruptly closes the door as tightly as possible and starts down the stairs. As he goes, he is scared by people shouting at one another, and then hears the investigative party, led by Koch and the young man, coming up the stairs. Raskolnikov decides to meet them; but on the second floor, an apartment which is being painted stands wide open, and he slips into it and hides until the party passes. Then he rushes downstairs and outside, encountering no one.

Though he knows that the investigators will be surprised at finding the door open and shocked at discovering the murders, and that they will not take long to surmise what had happened while they had left the apartment door unattended, he refuses to hurry or alter his course. Nearly collapsing, he somehow manages to get home, return the axe unnoticed, and goes to his room, where he lies oblivious, unable to rest on a single one of the thoughts swirling around his head.


An intriguing element of this very full chapter is the fact that Raskolnikov sees everything quite clearly, but keeps making mistakes. His clarity is evoked by the extremely, painfully intricate detail Dostoevsky provides of the woman's apartment and its furnishings and contents. Although he sees these tiny details, he does not notice bigger things, such as the open door between the apartment entryway and the staircase. This consistent lapse‹wherein Raskolnikov, unable to perceive the big picture, focuses on details‹characterizes his behavior elsewhere, especially in his approach to the crime itself (plotting it out carefully, and noting all material or practical objections, but not able to see the glaring moral issues at stake).

It is also testament to his overwhelming fear. He had been able, when at a distance, to coolly observe that other criminals failed because somehow or other they had lost control of their reason; when in the situation, however, he, too, slips through fear. Yet the thing that really makes him panic is the thought that he is losing his reason and slipping into madness so that "he was perhaps not doing at all what he should have been doing." He has placed so much emphasis on the brain and his ability to think clearly that the threat of losing these is more horrifying to him than the acts he has committed.

But his fear is still there, and things start happening to scare him. Koch and the young man show up at the door, and in fact figure out that something is amiss and someone is inside. As he slips down the stairs after they have gone to get the caretaker, someone shouts, "Hey, you hairy devil! Stop him!", but it turns out that the "hairy devil" is someone else. Remarkably, he does not get caught, but he is subjected to these little shocks, which may foreshadow what is to come.