31 Jul

In Part I, chapter 2, Raskolnikov meets Marmeladov.

How do you feel about Marmeladov?

I can’t decide whether I pity him or despise him.  I think it’s both.

Raskolnikov can’t seem to decide either.

Marmeladov broke off, tried to smile, but suddenly his chin began to twitch.  He controlled himself, however.  The tavern, the degraded appearance of the man, the five night in the hay barge, and the pot of spirits, and yet this poignant love for his wife and children bewildered his listener.  Raskolnikov listened intently but with a sick sensation.  He felt vexed

Does Raskolnikov feel compassion for Marmeladov as a fellow human being who is down on his luck?   or is he disgusted by the unemployed drunkard who has a starving family at home?

I think he’s as torn as I am.

Dostoyevsky seems to want us to feel disdain for Marmeladov.   This is a man who has a wife and children who depend on him at home and yet he sold his wife’s shawl and stockings to buy drinks at the tavern.   The author makes a point of telling us that Marmeladov took money from his prostitute daughter so that he could have more to drink.

Raskolnikov takes Marmeladov home.  It’s not a pretty scene.  Rask sneaks out leaving some coins (of which he has precious little) for the family.  I think, “Oh, that was a good thing to do, Rask.”  The poor family shouldn’t suffer for Marmeladov’s choices.

But then Raskolnikov regrets his act of charity.

“What a stupid thing I’ve done,” he thought to himself, “they have Sonia and I want it myself.”

Then I found myself perturbed with Rask.  Maybe I’m not sure how I feel about him either.

How do you feel about Raskolnikov and Marmeladov?


Posted by on July 31, 2012 in Crime and Punishment


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4 responses to “Torn

  1. Adriana @ Classical Quest

    July 31, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Since the scene you mentioned, I’ve noticed another one when he does something nice and later regrets it. Perhaps this is a repetitive action to keep track of.

  2. Christina Joy

    July 31, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Yes, I think duality is going to be a major theme here. As we’ve said before, these characters are far more than one-dimensional, so just like actual human beings we know there are things we love about them, and things we wish were very, very different.

  3. Amy

    August 1, 2012 at 1:51 am

    Dostoevsky does really well at presenting that realistic internal struggle. You feel for Marmeladov because he doesn’t seem to want to be that way. And yet, he doesn’t care enough to change his actions.

  4. Lutheran Mama

    August 1, 2012 at 6:58 am

    I think that R sympathizes with M because while he is disgusted by him, he recognizes himself and his own inability to be good. I just want to give both of them a hearty shake/slap/snap out of it, but really how can they? It’s an ugly picture of the hopelessness of fallen human effort where natural self-interest and sin reign.


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