Crime and Punishment Summary

Read the Crime and Punishment Summary here, a novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Key Info

  • Full Title: Crime and Punishment 
  • Written: 1865-1866
  • Published: 1866
  • Genre: Psychological realism.
  • Setting: St. Petersburg, Russia; 1860s


  • Raskolnikov: Protagonist of the novel. He kills two women and becomes restless. He undergoes severe mental trauma.
  • Pulcheria: Raskolnikov’s mother.
  • Dunya: Raskolnikov’s sister. 
  • Sonya: Daughter of Marmeladov and girlfriend of Raskolnikov. She is introduced in the novel as a prostitute. 
  • Marmeladov: A former government official and father of  Sonya.
  • Alyona Ivanovna: An old money-lender lady. Raskolnikov kills her.
  • Lizaveta Ivanovna: Alyona’s step sister. Raskolnikov kills her too.

Themes: Criminality, Morality, and Guilt; Money and Poverty; Family; Coincidence and Free Will.


Crime and Punishment is a novel written by Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881). It was written around 1865-1866 and first published in 1866. It is a psychological novel. The novel depicts the main character Raskolnikov’s salvation through his mental suffering.


Raskolnikov is an educated, handsome, and intelligent young man. He lives on the rooftop of a building in St. Petersburg. He finished his studies, looking for a job but not getting it. His thinking is different from other people’s. He follows a theory of his own. According to Raskolnikov, all people are basically divided into two groups; ordinary and extraordinary. He puts himself in the ranks of extraordinary people. According to him, common people suffer from inferiority. On the other hand, extraordinary people have the right to break the rules or commit any crime. Alyona Ivanovna lives in the same building. She is a pawnbroker. Raskolnikov does not like this matter. He thinks that because of Alyona, there are many mischiefs in the society.

One day he borrows some money from Alyona by pawning a watch given to him by his father. Raskolnikov continued to draw in his mind the blueprint for murdering Alyona. Marmeladov meets him on his way home. Marmeladov had a minor accident while crossing the road in a drunken condition. Raskolnikov helped him and took him to his house. There he met Marmeladov’s daughter Sonya. Sonya is a prostitute. Then Raskolnikov receives his mother’s letter. His mother writes about his sister Dunya. Dunya’s previous job is gone. She becomes involved in an affair with Svidrigailov for which she is fired from her job. Meanwhile, a government employee named Luzhin proposes to her to get married. Soon Luzhin will come to Petersburg to meet Raskolnikov.

One day Raskolnikov was walking along the market. He suddenly hears that Lizaveta Ivanovna (Aleona’s sister) goes out of the house for a while. This is Raskolnikov’s chance to take revenge on Alyona. He then goes to Alyona’s house during that time and kills her. Lizaveta is also at home, she did not go out. Lizaveta witnesses the murder and is killed by Raskolnikov.


The rest of the novel then proceeds with Raskolnikov’s reaction to his crime. Police Officer Porfyri is handling the murder case. He interrogates everyone in the building. And while discussing the murder, Raskolnikov faints. The police started to suspect him a bit. Raskolnikov’s friend Rakumikhin arrives. He consoles Raskolnikov. Meanwhile, Marmeladov died in an accident.

Raskolnikov begins to hallucinate after committing the murder. He finds no peace. Raskolnikov’s mother and sister come to Petersburg. They were horrified by Raskolnikov’s condition. They think Raskolnikov may be going mad. Meanwhile, Porfyri somehow tries to get the truth out of Raskolnikov’s mouth. Raskolnikov thinks he will tell Sonya the truth. One day he comes to Sonya’s apartment and tells her. Svidrigailov also lives in the apartment next to Sonya in the same building. From the other side of the wall, he overhears Sonya and Raskolnikov. Raskolnikov also confesses the truth to his sister Dunya. Dunya advises him to repent. Meanwhile, Svidrigailov learns of Raskolnikov’s crimes, and he blackmails Dunya; If Dunya doesn’t go to bed with him, he will tell the police about her brother’s crime.

Meanwhile, Porfyri reveals that he knows who killed Alyona and Lizaveta. Raskolnikov then confesses his guilt. He is sentenced to eight years of rigorous imprisonment in a Siberian prison. Sonya often visits him in jail. Razumikhin marries Dunya. Raskolnikov’s mother also died.

Raskolnikov realizes his mistakes and repents during his imprisonment. Gradually, he also feels Sonya’s love. He tries hard to reform himself and is able to do so.

Read Also: The Outsider Summary

Mr. Abdullah
Mr. Abdullah

Mr. Abdullah is a passionate love of Literature. Researcher and Lecturer of English Literature and Language.

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