Crime And Punishment By Fyodor Dostoevsky

1708 Words7 Pages
In Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment, great attention is paid to Raskolnikov’s inner life, yet it is equally important to attend to those outside forces that affect him. A significant but overlooked part of the novel, then, is how the city of St. Petersburg affects Raskolnikov. Through my reading, I found it interesting that Raskolnikov regularly traverses the city’s bridges and uses them as a place for reflection. Overall, there are twenty-five appearances of the word “bridge” in the novel, and so they appear in many different situations, holding many different purposes. First and foremost, they serve as an important narrative device: they provide geographical context, split up scenes, and provide scenes with emphasis by…show more content…
Psychologically, however, this scene is significant because it establishes the bridge as a place of introspection. In this case, it highlights Raskolnikov’s confusion, which only further contextualizes his frail emotional and mental state after the murder. Thus, this bridge-scene serves as a simple yet concrete way to advance the plot while conveying Raskolnikov’s mental state.
Another scene exemplifying this dual role of bridges occurs during Part Two when Raskolnikov watches a woman attempt to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge. Notably, this scene begins with descriptive imagery of Raskolnikov’s surroundings: he notices “the last pink gleams of the sunset” on some houses, “blazing as if aflame…” (168-169). This provides a contrast to the more depressing descriptions of the city found regularly; earlier in the chapter, for example, Raskolnikov is described to inhale “the stinking, dusty, city-infected air” (154). Thus, in a sense, the bridge can be a place of life and beauty. This mood changes, however, after the woman attempts to take her life. In the aftermath, the narrator reports that Raskolnikov “looks upon it all with a strange feeling of indifference and detachment. It was disgusting to him” (170). Narratively, this scene is significant as it contains the sub-story of the woman, made possible by the bridge, but there is more to this scene than that. The narrator
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