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Free Study Guide-Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky-Free Booknotes
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PART IV, CHAPTER 2

Summary

Raskolnikov alerts Razumihin of the need to protect Dounia from Svidrigailov. In the corridor of the Bakaleyev house, Raskolnikov and Razumihin bump into Luzhin. Together, the three enter Pulcheria Alexandrovna's rooms. Luzhin informs the ladies that Svidrigailov is in town. He spreads rumors, stating that Svidrigailov was responsible for the rape and death by suicide of a 15 year-old girl, as well as the death of a male servant whom he used to beat. Dounia doubts that Luzhin's facts are correct.

Raskolnikov reveals that Svidrigailov has visited him that day. He tells Dounia of the legacy that Marfa Petrovna has left for her. Raskolnikov refuses to divulge any more about his meeting with Svidrigailov because Luzhin is present.

Dounia tells Luzhin that Raskolnikov has come at her request. She asks Luzhin not to be "touchy" and pleads with Luzhin to accept Raskolnikov as he is. She tells Luzhin that if her brother is at fault, then he will apologize to Luzhin. Luzhin is furious because Dounia has not followed his instructions. He tells Dounia that her love for her future husband should exceed her love for her brother.


Pulcheria Alexandrovna accuses Luzhin of spreading malicious lies regarding Raskolnikov's relationship with Sonia. Luzhin concludes that Dounia and her mother are treating him with disrespect. Actually, Dounia has realized that Luzhin was counting on her helplessness when he proposed marriage to her. Pulcheria Alexandrovna asks Luzhin to leave, and Dounia calls him "base and malicious." Luzhin casts aspersions on Dounia's character. Razumihin rises to strike Luzhin, but Raskolnikov mediates and bluntly asks Luzhin to leave. This time Luzhin goes, filled with hatred for Raskolnikov.

Notes

In this chapter the vain Luzhin is revealed for what he really is, a sham. He comes to meet Dounia because he is hoping to play the role of benefactor, but he ends up being rejected by Dounia and her mother. Raskolnikov achieves his objective: the wedding of Dounia and Luzhin will not occur.

Luzhin is exposed as a vicious gossip who spreads malicious rumors about everybody. His tales about Svidrigailov tend to paint the man as a vulgar hedonist. Dounia does not believe Luzhin's stories about Svidrigailov because she has seen how Luzhin lied about Raskolnikov and Sonia. She is curt in her responses to him. She begins to assert herself against Luzhin and shows that she can stand on her own two feet. She stands by her own flesh and blood, her brother.

Dostoevsky carefully builds up the tension in this chapter until the climactic moment when Raskolnikov and his mother ask Luzhin to leave. Luzhin is obviously stunned and does not know how to react. His only line of defense is to attack and so he launches into a tirade against Dounia's character that only lands him in further trouble. He displays his tactlessness, and Dounia is finally able to see through him. Luzhin's deceptive nature stands in sharp contrast to Razumihin's open-mindedness and good heart. Luzhin's hatred of Raskolnikov later manifests itself in his attempt to vilify Sonia in Part V, Chapter 3, when he again tries to gain the favor of Dounia.

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