The Role Of Setting In Dostoevsky’s Crime And Punishment

Fyodor Didstoevsky is widely considered to be one of Russia’s most influential authors and one of today’s most respected writers. Crime and Punishment is his most famous novel and is considered a masterpiece. Its literary influence can still be felt today. Crime and Punishment examines the human psychology and legal system. These topics are timeless and will remain relevant to society, making this novel an invaluable text.

A storyline and its characters are created from the setting. Fyodor Donostoevsky portrays a grim, polluted and dirty city in Crime and Punishment. This helps the reader to understand what is going on and also creates connections between characters. Although it may seem absurd and insignificant at times, this meticulous detail is essential for creating intense psychological drama. The homes where many of the characters live are similar. These settings have a profound effect on their personalities. As the author states, vivid imagery has an impact on our main character. The heat can be an irritant as well as a way to introduce Raskolnikov. It’s clear that Raskolnikov has a mood, and the description of the city it is in is the same sentence. This is a great way for the writer and reader to see the setting.

Dostoevsky’s first description of Raksolnikov and his room is “”[…], He looked with hatred at it.” (Page 27). “It was only six feet in length and of most deplorable appearance […]”. This cramped-looking room may be a metaphor of Raskolnikov’s paranoid mentality, which led to his murder of Alyona/Lizaveta. Raskolzinikov might have surrendered in this cramped room. This is the tiny room where Raskolzinikov hid the items he had stolen from Lizaveta and Alyona immediately after the murders. It’s where his haunted memories and the murders are still fresh in his mind.

While Dostoevsky may not have intended for the story to be dominant, his description of Lizaveta’s and Alyona’s rooms is exactly as Raskolnikov describes them. “[…] He glanced at everything in the room and tried to remember its layout. Page 7. “But there wasn’t anything special in that room.” Raskolnikov speaks out about the importance of the extraordinary in this world. He describes Alyona as a louse and says that she didn’t consider her an extraordinary person. Although he did think of himself as one, it is foolish to trust his judgment. It’s fitting that the ordinary room is filled with everyday things belonged to an ordinary lady. This man was ordinary in many aspects, but he died for the ordinary woman.

This is a way to use location to determine personality traits. Sonya’s apartment was described as follows: “The entire big room had almost nothing in it.” (Page 315) Sonya feels that large swathes of her body are empty. Sonya lost her father recently and had to procreate to support herself and her family. Her room seems to reflect her deep pain. Dostoevsky also wrote that the poverty was apparent, and there were no curtains covering the bed. (Page 315) This sentence is a clear indication to the reader of Sonya’s sacrifices and generosity, even for simple luxury and pleasure, despite her job providing enough income to sustain her.

St. Petersburg was the epicenter of rapid industrialization in the period of the book’s creation. However, despite the benefits it brings to some consumers and the city’s poorer citizens, indistrialization often has adverse effects. Dostoevsky reveals the social problems of Russia in the early 1900s, including the extreme poverty and the desperate acts many were forced into because of it. Sonya was, for instance, forced to prostitution by KaterinaIvanovna to provide support for her family. Dostoevsky depicts Sonya as a unlikable character who is portrayed as a selfless, generally positive person. He creates moral conflict for the reader by creating an unlikable profession.

Dostoevsky makes use of setting throughout Crime and Punishment to communicate his points. These points are easily grasped by the reader even if they have not read the book before. The stuffy atmosphere of St. Petersburg could have motivated Raskolnikov to commit murders, but the author doesn’t provide any further details. Dostoevsky instead uses setting to hint at future events, as in the case with the yellow, cracked wallpaper falling off Raskolnikov’s bedroom, which indicates Raskolnikov’s mind is cracking and beginning to crumble.


  • tenleylancaster

    Tenley Lancaster is a 34-year-old educational blogger and student. She enjoys writing about topics related to education, including but not limited to student motivation, learning styles, and effective study techniques. Tenley has also written for various websites and magazines, and is currently working on her first book. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, and traveling.