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Free Study Guide-Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky-Free Booknotes
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THE EPILOGUE, PART I

Summary

At his trial, Raskolnikov describes every detail of his crime. He leads the magistrates to the stone under which he hid the valuables that he stole from Alena Ivanovna's flat. With the help of depositions from psychologists, the magistrates conclude that Raskolnikov was suffering from temporary insanity during the time of the murders. They believe that Raskolnikov is not an ordinary murderer and robber. Raskolnikov maintains that he committed murder because he needed money to pursue his studies and to launch himself in a career. His sentence is rather lenient, as it appears that Raskolnikov has come forward of his own accord to confess. Porfiry has kept his word on this point.

Razumihin gives testimony in the court that Raskolnikov, while at the university, had helped a poor and consumptive fellow student and the student's father. Raskolnikov's former landlady, the widow Zarnitsyn, testifies that Raskolnikov had rescued two children from a burning house. Taking all this into consideration, the court sentences Raskolnikov to a prison term in Siberia covering not more than eight years.


Razumihin and Dounia say their good-byes to Raskolnikov at the prison. Razumihin plans to make enough money in the next two or three years so that he can later migrate to Siberia. Dounia and Razumihin get married. Pulcheria Alexandrovna develops a fever, becomes delirious, and dies. She is not told about her son's fate.

Notes

In this the first part of the Epilogue the reader learns of Raskolnikov's trial and rather light sentence. Some critics have questioned the need for the Epilogue. They consider its presence unnecessary within the overall structure of the novel. The main conflict of the novel is resolved before the Epilogue begins, when Raskolnikov decides to confess to the police and to accept punishment. The reader learns of Razumihin's marriage to Dounia and of his intention to settle in Siberia so that he can be near Raskolnikov. One more tragic event takes place, as Pulcheria Alexandrovna dies. She is never told of her son's crime and subsequent punishment. Hers is the sixth death that occurs in the course of the novel, making the novel seem all the more gloomy and depressing.

The magistrates at the trial take a sympathetic view of Raskolnikov's crime. Raskolnikov's failure to make use of the stolen goods stands him in good stead. Furthermore, his earlier acts of goodness and charity, as related by Razumihin and his former landlady, make a favorable impression on the magistrates. The fashionable term, 'temporary insanity,' is used by the psychologists who are called upon as experts to give testimony in the case. This shows that Dostoevsky had some knowledge of trends in psychology.

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