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FREE Barron's Booknotes-Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky-Free
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PART III, CHAPTER 1

Raskolnikov comes to quickly, but the shock of his family's presence overwhelms him. He looks so ill that his mother is terrified. All he can say to them is "Go home...." It's hardly the greeting they expected.

As if everyone weren't unhappy enough, Raskolnikov blurts out his anger to Dunya. He categorically forbids her to marry Luzhin. Wanting desperately to salvage the situation, she tries to postpone the discussion, but he won't stop. He insists that he won't let her sacrifice herself for him; he refuses to consider that she has any other motive for marrying Luzhin. His ultimatum- Luzhin or me-follows them as they leave. By this time even the patient Razumikhin has had enough. He shouts: "You must be out of your mind."

NOTE:

Everyone who has come in contact with Raskolnikov since the murder resorts to explaining his behavior as madness. You're probably tempted to agree with them. But Dostoevsky doesn't intend insanity to be an excuse for Raskolnikov's behavior.

While the unhappiness of the reunion lingers, the mood of the chapter changes dramatically as Razumikhin takes the women to the sleazy hotel Luzhin has chosen. It is almost funny to watch him fall in love with Dunya. He chatters on, in a tipsy euphoria. But his romantic haze doesn't prevent him from carrying out his responsibilities; he is very definitely in charge.


Pulcheria Alexandrovna and Dunya are deeply upset by Raskolnikov's behavior. Their worry is never far from the surface. But Dostoevsky distracts our attention from their misery by his description of Dunya. In particular, we learn that she resembles her brother, not only physically but also emotionally. This connection between them becomes increasingly important as the story continues. For one thing, it is one way in which Raskolnikov's appealing qualities are illustrated.

If Raskolnikov has failed them, Razumikhin does all he promised. He settles them in and returns almost immediately to report that Raskolnikov is sleeping. Within an hour he brings Dr. Zosimov to reassure them about the patient's condition. It's clear he's becoming very important to the Raskolnikov women. It's a role he treasures.

"Some suspicions of mental disturbance" and "some indications of monomania" are the doctor's diagnosis. He advises them to avoid upsetting Raskolnikov the next day, when they try another reunion.

NOTE:

This emphasis on madness works several ways. Labeling Raskolnikov's behavior monomania protects him from being a murder suspect. His obsession with the crime is explained as a mental disturbance. Also, if he is mentally sick, his family and friends are willing to forgive a lot of obnoxious behavior. You have to consider, though, whether labeling someone mentally disturbed really protects him. Maybe it is the labelers it really protects-from facing the truth.

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