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FREE Barron's Booknotes-Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky-Free
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CHAPTER 5

Rather than answer the questions raised at the end of Chapter 4, Dostoevsky adds further complications as the pace of Raskolnikov's struggle speeds up.

Having tried to work out his confused feelings on a long walk, Raskolnikov falls asleep and dreams a horrible dream, the first of many that will plague him.

NOTE:

Dreams play a major role in the novel. They are closely tied to important events, especially violent ones. Dostoevsky was one of the first novelists to use dreams to show the mental and emotional turmoil of characters. This is one of the ways that he anticipates and even influences modern ideas about human behavior, particularly the psychological interpretation of dreams.

Raskolnikov in particular has many different kinds of dreams that show you the ideas and emotions warring in his mind. Some of his dreams reveal or predict the future; others recreate the terrors of the past. His first and most dramatic nightmare does both.

Raskolnikov dreams that he is once again a child, reunited with his long- dead father. As they walk through their rural village, the boy stares in horror as an aged horse is beaten to death by her drunken master. He must watch; it is a compulsion, though others try to lead him away. He hysterically embraces the dead animal's bloody head and tries to assault the violent peasant who has killed the mare.


He awakes in a cold sweat, confused and almost irrational. For the first time he speaks his horrible plan: to smash the pawnbroker's head with an ax and steal her money. His violent tendencies have been revealed in his dream. But so have his fear and revulsion of violence, which make him identify not only with the killer, but with the little boy who is appalled at the scene, and even with the horse who is the victim.

You may feel an enormous sense of relief as Raskolnikov comes to terms with his dream. He resolves not to commit the crime. He even prays that God will show him how to escape his evil thoughts. But does he give up his plan because he believes it is wrong or because he lacks the courage to go through with it? Readers have seen both of these possibilities in his decision.

Moments later his resolve, his humanity, is ambushed. Fate, he insists, changes his life. For he overhears that the pawnbroker's meek and mild sister, Lizaveta, will be away from home at seven the next evening. All questions, all struggles evaporate: his victim will be home alone.

He calls it fate, but is it really a convenient excuse?

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FREE Barron's Booknotes-Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky-Free
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