Characters make up the skeleton of a story. They convey the author’s ideas, beliefs, and relationships of the world as well as of the human beings around them. Major characters in Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky are not only interesting but also deeply disturbing for the readers due to the depth of meanings they convey through their conversation and actions. Some of the major characters of the novel have been discussed below.
Characters in Crime and Punishment
Rodion Romanych Raskolnikov
Raskolnikov is the central figure of the book. As the story revolves around him. Due to the less amount he receives for his valuable, he murders a pawnbroker and her sister. He tries to convince himself that his crime was to achieve greatness. Due to his conscience, he experiences extreme mental conflict. He doubts his theoretical thinking that great people often kill others to achieve greatness. He also believes that by the murder of pawnbroker Alyona and her sister, hundreds of others will benefit. As the paranoia leads him to act strangely, the police officer Porfiry confirms that Raskolnikov is the killer. He leaves his mother and sister. Later he comes across Sonya, a prostitute, who loves him and encourages him to surrender. When he turns himself in by the end, he experiences redemption.
Sonya is pure of spirit and innocent. She wins sympathy and heart of Raskolnikov, who supports her through thick and think. She supports her family by working as a prostitute. Her relationship with Raskolnikov starts after her father’s death. Despite differences, they come close to each other. Her strong belief in God shows her mental stability during the time of crisis. Rodion’s problematic situation and Sonya’s sufferings and compassion draw them close to each other. She encourages Raskolnikov to surrender. She also stands by him through his hardships and accompanies him to Siberia. Although both separate for a brief period, she finally comes to love him in the atmosphere free of worries and fears.
Dmitri Prokofych Razumikhin
Razumikhin is Raskolnikov’s best friend, who stands by him in every situation. He is humble, social butterfly and friendly to everyone. Razmukhin believes that Raskolnikov is good at heart like him. However, he will take a long time to come to terms with life and abandon his theoretical thinking on greatness. Razumikhin is a little clumsy but very generous. He takes the responsibility of Raskolnikov’s sister and mother when he leaves them. He also loves Dunya, Raskolnikov’s sister and marries her. For him, the prevalent social morality is enough to support his life and make it easy for him. His close life with Raskolnikov shows that he shuns the mentally torturing ideas to the life of mediocrity.
Dunya or Avdotya Romanovna
Dunya is proud and virtuous and also arrogant. She committed to her beliefs as opposed to her brother who loses faith in religion and morality. Following her brother’s failure to take up the responsibility of the family, she works as a domestic helper for Svidrigailov. There is she is molested by Svidrigailov and leaves. Despite her resisting nature, she follows Luzhin and tries to reconcile her brother with her lover to bridge the gaps in the family. Eventually, she fails, despite her repeated efforts. She informed by Svidrigailov about her brother’s crime. Though she is intimate with Svidrigailov, she shoots when he tries to blackmail her. Her marriage to Razumikhin points to her intellectual stability and redemption.
Svidrigailov is an exploitative employer. Dunya works for his family for a short period as a governess. Although he makes steady advances, Dunya rejects him after which he arrives at St. Petersburg. He lives next to Sonya where he overhears the confessional conversation of Raskolnikov. Although his passion seems pure and upright when he reaches out to Dunya. He uses her love for her family and her sympathetic assistance to Sonya. Strangely, his sincerity to Dunya comes to light by the end of the book when he meets her. Dunya nearly kills him. He commits suicide after failing to win her heart. His purity of love wins the hearts of readers by the end.
Marfa Petrovna Svidrigailov
Marfa is Svidrigailov’s wife. She is loyal, generous and rescues her husband from financial debts. However, Svidrigailov molests Dunya and coaxes her to elope with him to Petersburg. In a fit of rage, she expels Dunya from her home after insulting her. After learning her husband’s advances, she shows sympathy to Dunya and introduces her to Luzhin. Before her death, she leaves a written will for Dunya with a handsome amount.
Semyon Zakharovich Marmeladov
Marmeladov is an alcoholic and Sonya’s father. He meets Raskolnikov in a tavern meeting through Sonya. who has to become a prostitute to support her family. He is very irresponsible due to his addiction. He finally meets his end in an accident with a coach when Raskolnikov saves him, but he ultimately dies at home because of his injuries.
Katerina Ivanovna Marmeladov
Katerina is the most unfortunate wife of Marmeladov and Sonya’s mother. She has poor decision skills and behavior. She belonged to the upper class. She remarries because her first husband was abusive. However, Marmeladov was also similar due to his alcohol addiction. Her final departure leaves her family in debt. Her superiority complex takes a toll on her in the shape of extreme consumption which takes her life. She breathes her last when she is kicked out of the home after she becoming a widow.
Porfiry is the head of the Investigation Department. He is assigned to solve the pawnbroker, Alyona’s and her sister’s murders. He plays a major role in transforming Raskolnikov. Though he finds out that Raskolnikov committed the murders, he chooses to wait. During his second meeting, he reveals the secret and encourages Raskolnikov to confess. He also agrees to his cause. Along with Sonya, Porfiry gives a positive influence on Raskolnikov and playing a major role in his redemption.
Pyotr Petrovich Luzhin
Luzhin is narcissistic with immense pride in his wealth. He is related to Marfa and proposes Dunya for marriage. He wants to marry Dunya hoping that she would be a humble wife as she is from a poor background. He finally loses her due to his pride.