Books and Movies Reviews

Women of Crime and Punishment

The women of Crime and Punishment share several common characteristics, that of self-sacrifice, suffering, and strong will.The three main female characters of Dostoevsky’s masterpiece, Dounia, Sonia, and Katerina Ivanovna, all possess these attributes.
Wefirst hear of Dounia from the letter Raskolnikov receives in Book I: that she was involved in a scandal where she was falsely accused of having an affair.The suffering during that whole affair must have been intense.Her strong will prevails even in the face of total condemnation by the town, and her self-sacrificing capabilities extend even to marrying a pooch like Luzhin simply for money.
Sonia, on the other hand, is equally strong willed and self-sacrificing, but is less bold about showing it.The fact that she could go into prostitution, something obviously against her very nature, to save her family is testament to both the power of her resolve and the willingness to suffer for a cause.She was equally willing to give up her life and follow Rodya to Siberia, showing again her traits of self-sacrifice.
Katerina Ivanovna suffers horribly throughout the book.Afflicted with hideous disease, she ignores her own personal health in favor of washing the children’s linen all night long, and gives up Sonia to prostitution, probably an even more horrible sacrifice than death.The fact that she could survive at all, let alone think about helping others, is a monumental testimony to her intense strength of character.
Overall, these three women are tributes to strong will, martyrdom, and suffering.Dostoevsky knew the life of a woman was no picnic, and he couldn’t have said it better.


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