Poverty as a Symbol In Crime and Punishment
"Raskolnikov was crushed by poverty, but the anxieties of his position had of late ceased to weigh upon him" (Dostoevsky 12). Poverty in the novel Crime and Punishment is symbolized by many things and is spoken of often throughout the story. This book is about a man named Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov who brutally murders his pawnbroker and her niece, Lizaveta. After the murders Raskolnikov falls into a feverish state and begins to worry obsessively over them. Towards the end of the novel, after a long period of time trying to get away with committing the perfect crime, Raskolnikov is persuaded to admit to the murders by Sonya and is sent to Siberia. Throughout this novel Fyedor Dostoevsky uses many clever symbols to represent poverty. The symbols of the destruction of poverty that Dostoevsky uses are the city of St. Petersburg, the Marmledov family, and the Raskolnikov family.
The first example introducing the destruction of poverty is made apparent with the introduction of St. Petersburg. Dostoevsky describes this city as dirty and crowded. In the city, young women prostitute themselves to make money for their destitute families. Additionally, random drunks can be seen sprawled out all over the city, during broad daylight. Then shows people like Katerina Ivanovna, who beat their children in the street just so they will go and beg for money. Every man lives in unhealthy conditions, Raskolnikov for example lives in a small attic room of a tenement house complex, and is not the only person living in tenement housing because that is all the Russian lower class can afford. Dostoevsky uses a description of the city to try and show the ills of Russian society while he wrote this novel.
Another symbol of poverty’s crushing abilities is the Marmeladov family, who is in a much worse situation than Raskolnikov's family. The father, Semyon Marmeladov, is a public official who has a drinking problem. He is such an alcoholic that...