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Published: 13-09-2019

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The Role of Setting in Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment

Setting traditionally offers a base for a writer to develop a storyline and the characters that populate it. In Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky paints the picture of a dirty, polluted city filled with drunks and prostitutes. This setting he paints for us not only aids the reader realize far better exactly where almost everything is taking location, but also allows us to produce connections amongst characters and the spaces in which they reside. This meticulous detail, though at some instances seeming ridiculous and pointless, is essential for the creation of the intense psychological drama. A lot of characters in this book are really equivalent to the houses in which they live, and these settings profoundly influence the personalities of these individuals.

For instance, Dostoevsky writes, “It was terribly hot out, and moreover it was close, crowded lime, scaffolding, bricks, dust everywhere, and that unique summer time stench identified so properly to each Petersburger who can not afford to rent a summer time house — all at after these factors unpleasantly shook the young man’s currently overwrought nerves” (Web page 4). The vivid imagery in the description of the city has, as the author stated, an effect on our primary character. The heat acts as an irritant, but also as a segue into introducing the character himself, Raskolnikov. Since the character’s mood is place in the identical sentence as the description of the not-so-beautiful city, it signifies that Raskolnikov’s mood is straight impacted by the environment. This use of the setting not only creates an image for the reader, but also allows the writer to get his needed points across.

Dostoevsky first describes Raksolnikov’s partnership to his area by saying, “[…], he looked with hatred at his tiny space.” (Page 27). “It was a tiny closet, about six paces lengthy, of a most pathetic look, […]” (Web page 27-28). This cramped area is a possible metaphor for Raskolnikov’s cramped and paranoid mind, which led to his murdering of Alyona and Lizaveta. This cramped area, typically described as a “[prison] cell” by various characters, also could be the purpose why Raskolzinikov sooner or later turned himself in. This tiny space, the spot exactly where he came quickly after the murders and hid the items he stole from Alyona and Lizaveta, is exactly where the murders live on in Raskolnikov’s mind — a place that neither he nor his troubled memories can escape.

The way in which Dostoevsky describes Lizaveta and Alyona’s space, although possibly not meant to dominate the narrative, is in-line with precisely what Raskolnikov says about them. The author writes, “[…] and with a quick glance he took in everything in the room, in order to study and keep in mind the layout as properly as attainable. But there was nothing at all specific in this room” (Web page 7). Raskolnikov discusses the part of the extraordinary and the ordinary in this globe, and calls Alyona a louse, indicating that he did not see her as an extraordinary individual at all (even though he did see himself as one for quite a bit of time, so it is unwise to trust his judgement). It fits that this ordinary room that is filled with ordinary things belongs to an ordinary woman. This ordinary lady suffered a death from a man who was ordinary in several methods, regardless of his elevated perception of himself.

This use of location to establish personality traits extends to other characters. Sonya’s apartment is described thus: “The complete huge area had virtually no furnishings in it.” (Page 315). This area is a reflection of Sonya, a young woman who feels as if a large component of her is empty. Her father has lately passed away and she had to prostitute herself in order to support her household. She is suffering drastically, and her room appears to capture this moral void. Dostoevsky also writes, “The poverty was evident there were not even any curtains over the bed.” (Web page 315). This sentence demonstrates to the reader that even though her job brings in enough funds to assistance her, Sonya provides her money to her family and keeps only adequate to feed and clothe herself, sacrificing even basic products of luxury and pleasantry.

St. Petersburg was a internet site of fast industrialization at the time of this book’s creation: despite its positive aspects for some consumers, indistrialization commonly has negative effects, specially on the poorer individuals in a city. Dostoevsky brings to light the social troubles of Russia at the time, such as this intense poverty and the desperate actions a lot of people were forced to undertake since of this poverty. Sonya, for instance, was forced into prostitution by Katerina Ivanovna in order to support her family members. Dostoevsky creates a character that has an unlikable profession and depicts her as a selfless, usually very good person, and by doing so creates a moral conflict within the reader.

Throughout Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky makes use of setting as a tool to get his points across, points that the reader will certainly pick up on even on an educated first read. Raskolnikov’s murders could have been motivated by the stuffy atmosphere that was in St. Petersburg at the time, even though the author does not give us this details for certain. Instead, Dostoevsky utilizes setting to give hints at upcoming events — as in the case of the cracked, yellow wallpaper starting to fall off the walls in Raskolnikov’s area, which heralds Raskolnikov’s thoughts cracking and starting to fall apart.
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