I knew something was up in Part VI, chapter 6. I just knew it.
Svidrigaïlov is tying up loose ends. He’s met with Raskolnikov, Dounia, Sonia, and his betrothed. Now he’s in a hotel feeling feverish and having chills. He is unable to eat. He calls out for the ghost of his wife Marfa. He sleeps and wakes, but isn’t sure what’s real and what’s a dream. Bizarre nightmares trouble him.
Hmmmm…. seem familiar?
Think for a moment. Does his behavior sound like anyone else’s that we know?
Could it be…. Raskolnikov?
Sure there are differences. At the end of this chapter Svidrigaïlov shoots himself. Did you see it coming? I wrote in my book, “Is he planning to die?” Raskolnikov doesn’t experience mental/physical illness until after he murders Alyona Ivanovna and Lizaveta.
In Dostoyevsky’s mind these “symptoms” are connected with murder/suicide: fevers and chills, lack of appetite, ghosts, dreams. We shouldn’t be surprised that these two characters share similar reactions to death. Svidrigaïlov is Raskolnikov’s foil after all.