Crime and Punishment: Raskolnikov's Room Essay

2947 Words 12 Pages
Dostoevsky's 1865 novel Crime and Punishment is the story of an expelled university student's murder of an old pawnbroker and her sister. The idealistic ex-student, Raskolnikov, is ultimately unable to live up to his own nihilistic theory of what makes a "Great Man" and, overcome by fits of morality, betrays himself to the police. Exiled to Siberia, suffering redeems the unfortunate young dreamer. Crime and Punishment is similar in many ways to Balzac's Pere Goriot, especially in respect to questions of morality. In Balzac, the master-criminal Vautrin lives by an amoral code similar to Raskolnikov's theory of Great Men--unrestrained by conscience, Vautrin holds that laws are for the weak, and those clever enough to realize this may …show more content…
The room is as shabby as it is small--not a seemingly likely place for posing intellectual questions of great significance. But Dostoevsky is a writer fond of achieving great things with equally great economy. Just as he stretches a two-week period into a hefty novel, Dostoevsky makes a dingy student's apartment more important than a grand palace. Raskolnikov's room becomes a nexus for the story. It is there Raskolnikov cowers, broods and slips into depraved and fitful slumber. Almost all of the major characters in the book pay a visit to the room, and sometimes it even seems as if they are all stuffed into the tiny space at once. Yet the room is more than just a meeting place, more than a central location. It takes on a character of its own, illustrating Raskolnikov's mental turmoil, becoming an image of him to others and perhaps even doing much to induce or at least enforce his degenerate state.

Raskolnikov's room first appears in Part One, Chapter Three, where Raskolnikov describes it upon awakening:

[He] gazed round his little room with loathing. It was a tiny little cubby-hole of a place, no more than six paces long, and so low that anybody of even a little more than average