The Roles of Women in Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

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In Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky uses the role of women to further the understanding of thematic topics of the novel. The most prominent woman in Crime and Punishment is Sofia Semionovna Marmeladov, also known as Sonia, who is Raskolnikov’s beloved and the young daughter of Marmeladov. Sonia is forced into prostitution as a teenager and throughout the novel; Sonia is scorned by the people of the town because of it. Dostoevsky portrays Sonia as a multifaceted character causing many different thematic ideas to unfold throughout the novel. Contrary to the way society thinks of Sonia, Dostoevsky’s opinion on Sonia creates her role in the novel as a savior and an angelic character, which is seen through direct and indirect characterization, interaction with other characters, and allusions. In the novel, Dostoevsky portray Sonia as a responsible character with implausible strength, who is constantly sacrificing, which is seen through her actions. Sonia’s basic function in the novel is to help her family and takes on many responsibilities because of her “filthy drunkard…father[s]” (Dostoevsky 25) inability to maintain a job causing her family to live as indigents. Although Sonia is “respectable” (19), lack of money leaves her in a vulnerable position. In order to quiet "the crying of [the] hungry children," (20) Sonia has to turn to prostitution as it the only way she could protect and support her family. Not only does poverty rob Sonia of her purity, but it also robs
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