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Adrienne Tittler

30 January 2015
AP English
Whedon 5
Crime and Punishment Allusions, Symbolism, & Imagery Analysis
Deeper meaning lies all throughout the novel Crime and Punishment, like a secret
waiting to be told. The author, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, fancies leaving various things up to
interpretation of the reader. In the novel, the main character, Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov,
murders his pawnbroker. The motive, unknown, left up to the reader to decide. Dostoyevsky,
uses imagery, symbolism, and allusions to enhance the novel Crime and Punishment.
Throughout the novel, Dostoyevsky uses the imagery of the town of St. Petersburg to
make a statement about society. "In the street the heat was insufferable again; not a drop of rain
had fallen all those days. Again dust, bricks and mortar, again the stench from the shops and the
pot-houses, again the drunken men, the Finnish pedlars and half broken-down cabs."(Dostoevsky
114). This quote illustrates the impoverished and run down state of the city. Dostoyevsky utilizes
the image system of St. Petersburg to show concern for society during his time. Essentially, how
he depicts the town of St. Petersburg, is how he views the world around him(5).
In the novel, Dostoyevsky, uses the town of St. Petersburg Russia to symbolize
Raskolnikovs mind. Raskolnikov spends most of the novel agitated and oppressed, trapped in a
both chaotic and terrifying world. A lot like the people of St. Petersburg; trapped with no escape.
In the days after the murder, Raskolnikov rarely leaves his flat. When he finally does, the things
happening around him symbolize his state of mind. During the day randomness, the buzzing of
the shops, yelling peasants, and Raskolnikov asking strangers odd questions happens. All like his

mind, a jumble of unorganized thoughts and actions. A couple days after, a woman jumps off the
X_____ Bridge trying to end her life. Much like how Raskolnikov wishes to terminate his
thoughts and feelings. Only once Raskolnikov leaves St. Petersburg to Siberia is he finally able
to find mental stability and the beginnings of redemption(1).
Another dominating symbol within the novel, is the pawnbroker, Alyona Ivanovna and
her sister of Lizaveta. "The old women was only an illness. . . . I was in a hurry to overstep. . . . I
didn't kill a human being, but a principle!"(Dostoyevsky 323). Raskolnikov saw the murder of
Alyona as a positive deed, ridding society of a cruel person, and making the world a happier
place. The murder of Lizaveta was unintended, and uncalled for. Raskolnikov did not plan on her
unexpected return home. Lizaveta symbolizes Raskolnikov's guilt, being that she was a lovely
person(3).
Dostoyevsky uses allusions in order to enhance the novel. The most predominating
allusion being the story of Lazarus in comparison to Raskolnikovs life. Both Lazarus and
Raskolnikov go through similar rebirths by accepting Jesus as their savior. Lazarus resurrected
by Jesus himself, and Raskolnikov resurrected by Sonia, his Jesus figure. "But that is the
beginning of a new story- the story of the gradual renewal of a man, the story of his gradual
regeneration, of his passing from one world into another, of his initiation into a new unknown
life."(Dostoyevsky 642). Dostoevsky alludes to a biblical figure within the novel, to reveal his
belief in a higher figure(4).