Crime and Punishment

A Woman's Care

"I like them to talk nonsense. That's man's one privilege over all creation. Through error you come to the truth! I am a man because I err!" (160) Dmitri Prokofitch Razumihin

The psychological realism apparent in the works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky does not exclusively apply to men. The women, too, are fully developed characters who go beyond being passive, archetypal recipients of male action. In Crime and Punishment especially, the female characters are not mere ornaments meant to beautify a male-driven plot; rather, they are the backbone of the storyline. Avdotya Romanovna and Sofya Semyonovna, in particular, are intransigent in bearing the banner for the most important moral-didactic themes in the novel. They are primarily responsible for reforming the guilt-ridden protagonist, Rodion Raskolnikov. Through their interaction with Raskolnikov, Dounia and Sonia show that religious devotion and emotionality, as opposed to scientific reasoning, are necessary for happiness and redemption.

Dostoyevsky casts Dounia as the first character able to truly glimpse into Raskolnikov's psyche and begin the lengthy and painful process of healing. In conversation with Razumihin, Dounia opines concerning Raskolnikov, "I...

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