Crime and Punishment is a novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky that follows the story of Raskolnikov, a former student who commits murder. The novel explores the psychological effects of crime, guilt, and punishment. Svidrigailov is another character in the novel who also commits murder. While Raskolnikov is driven by poverty and desperation, Svidrigailov seems to kill for sport. In this article, we’ll compare and contrast these two characters to see how they differ in their motivations and actions.
We learn about Raskolnikov’s difficulties as we proceed deeper into Crime and Punishment. But on our journey, we encounter a pair of questionable characters who seem to irritate our anti-hero Ras. So you might describe them as his rivals or the scourge of his existence.
I want to discuss two of these men in particular, Svidrigailov and Porfiry. Svidrigailov because he is the most recent addition to Crime and Punishment, and also because his role is more than meets the eye. While on the other hand we have Porfiry who has been with us from almost the beginning, but his intentions are much more difficult to discern.
Svidrigailov, a man of means who chooses to live modestly yet still above the poverty line. A widower with a daughter whom he adores and provides for very well. A sexual deviant who preys on innocent women, ruining their lives. An all-around bad guy, right? Well yes and no. Svidrigailov is all of those things but he’s also a man who’s tired of living. He’s bored with his life and is looking for a way out, even if it means ending it all.
Svidrigailov first appears in the text when Raskolnikov visits Porfiry’s office and overhears him talking about the recent murder of an old woman and her sister. Raskolnikov becomes very agitated at the mention of the crime and Porfiry notices. He decides to have one of his officers, Zametov, take Raskolnikov to a tavern and keep an eye on him. Zametov takes Raskolnikov to the tavern and while they’re there, who should walk in but Svidrigailov.
Raskolnikov is immediately uncomfortable in Svidrigailov’s presence and Zametov can tell. He asks Raskolnikov if he knows him and Raskolnikov says no, but Porfiry does and proceeds to tell Zametov about him. Svidrigailov was a former captain of industry who has since fallen on hard times. He’s been living a modest life for the past few years and is rumored to be involved in some shady business deals.
Porfiry goes on to say that Svidrigailov is not someone to be trifled with and that he should be avoided if at all possible. Zametov takes this advice to heart and leaves the tavern, leaving Raskolnikov behind with Svidrigailov.
Raskolnikov is not happy about being left alone with Svidrigailov, but he doesn’t have a choice. Svidrigailov starts to talk to him and it quickly becomes clear that he knows more about Raskolnikov than Raskolnikov would like. He knows about his family, his past, and even his Crime and Punishment.
Raskolnikov is understandably freaked out by this and tries to leave, but Svidrigailov blocks his way and continues to talk. He tells Raskolnikov that he’s not interested in turning him in or anything, he just wants to talk. He says that he’s been following Raskolnikov’s story with great interest and that he can relate to him in a way.
Svidrigailov then proceeds to tell Raskolnikov about his own Crime and Punishment. He killed his wife out of boredom and because she was standing in the way of his happiness. He has no regrets about it and doesn’t feel any guilt. In fact, he seems to take a certain pleasure in telling Raskolnikov about it.
A nemesis is a sort of opponent, as it’s used to describe someone who brings suffering or distress to a specific focal point. In this work, the two most significant nemeses are Svidrigailov and Razumikhin. Both of these males have the aim of breaking Ras so they can obtain what they want. While Svidrigailov may be seen as the far more evil and malevolent twin of Raskolnikov, he still makes an excellent adversary.
Svidrigailov is the one person who knows all of Ras darkest secrets, and instead of using it to help him, he uses it as a way to control him. Svidrigailov gets great joy out of toying with Ras and making him squirm, which makes for an interesting battle of wits between the two characters.
Razumikhin on the other hand, is more of a bumbling oaf compared to Svidrigailov, but he still poses a threat to Raskolnikov. Razumikhin is loud and brash and doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut, which often gets him into trouble. He’s also fiercely loyal to Raskolnikov, which can be both a good and bad thing. While Razumikhin may not be as clever as Svidrigailov, he makes up for it with his brute force and determination.
These two characters are the perfect foils for Raskolnikov, and they help to bring out the best (and worst) in him. Crime and Punishment would not be the same without these two nemeses.
But he has paid for his crimes. We see Svidrigailov perform good acts such as giving money to Dunya and warning her about the danger of marrying someone for financial support only to end up as their prisoner, suggesting that he has atoned for his misdeeds. Despite his violent and underhanded nature, Svidrigailov has the ability to recognize that he cannot force reality to comply with his deepest wishes.
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky is the story of two men who committed murders, but only one was truly punished for his crime.
Raskolnikov, the main character in Crime and Punishment, is a young man who commits murder because he believes that he is above the law. He does not feel guilty about his crime and even tries to justify it to himself. Raskolnikov’s punishment comes in the form of mental anguish and isolation. He is constantly plagued by guilt and fear, which eventually leads him to turn himself in to the police.
Svidrigailov, on the other hand, is an older man who also commits murder. Unlike Raskolnikov, Svidrigailov does feel guilty about his crime. He is haunted by the ghost of the woman he killed and is deeply remorseful for what he has done. However, Svidrigailov does not turn himself in to the authorities and instead tries to flee the country. He eventually kills himself, which some may see as a form of punishment.
So, who was truly punished for their crime? Raskolnikov or Svidrigailov? In my opinion, both men were punished in different ways. Raskolnikov’s punishment was more internal, while Svidrigailov’s was more external. Raskolnikov’s mental anguish and isolation led him to turn himself in and eventually confess his crime. Svidrigailov, on the other hand, was constantly haunted by the ghost of his victim and eventually killed himself. So, I would say that both men were punished for their respective crimes.