Unveiling Traits and Suspense
Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment is told primarily from the point of view of the main character Raskolnikov but occasionally switches to the perspective of minor characters like Svidrigailov, Razumikhin, and Dunya (third person, omniscient) which makes it more attention-grabbing. In Part IV, Raskolnikov is progressively sinking into his new found guilt for murdering his pawnbroker Alyona Ivanovna. The latter remorse leads him to develop a physical pain that it’s too overwhelming for him to be a reliable source of other important events that still keep happening during the story.
The point of view changes in this section, so that the reader is able to notice character traits, which are unable to be told if only focused on Raskolnikov; such as Razumikhin’s interpretation of his love for Dunya, Dunya’s previously unknown account on Luzhin’s marriage proposal, as well as Svidrigailov’s constant wish for contact with Raskolnikov. Razumikhin’s love for Dunya is not clearly described until Part IV, had not Dostoevsky shifted his focus on point of view.
Raskolnikov is still too weighed down due to the murders and the fact that he can’t provide for his family financially, so that when he is asleep, the reader would not know of the following scene if the author hadn’t given Razumikhin the spotlight to give his account on his feelings for Dunya. Once Raskolnikov sleeps, Razumikhin accompanies Dunya and her mother to their loft, and we truly recognize his love for her when he describes her physically as if adoring her, and even fantasizes about their future.
Doestoevsky does this change in point of view so that the reader is reassured that Raskolnikov does no longer need to worry about his family’s financial issues because Razumikhin truly cares for his family, creating a free pathway for him to confess the murder. Raskolnikov was usually concerned for his family’s well being. During Part I, he received a letter from his mother that informed him that his sister was going to be married to a man named Peter Luzhin, from which money he would be to finance his education. Raskolnikov believed that her only reason for marrying him was for her brother’s sake.
When Dunya and her mother are left alone in their loft, Doestoevsky allows us to see the reliable explanation on Luzhin’s proposal. Dunya wants to marry him because she realizes that he is her only way out of poverty. Dunya is more mature than her brother: while he grows angry and dizzy confronting Luzhin, she remains confident and in control, even when she becomes just as angry. With her unveiled perspective we acknowledge that she is the strongest female character in the novel when she makes the decision of testing Luzhin, by going against his wishes to invite Raskolnikov to their welcoming dinner.
This proves to Raskolnikov that she is no fool, because she prefers to have her pride than marry a man who would not respect her family. The change in point of view was also used for suspense. Svidrigailov’s perspective comes about as an unknown man wishing to approach Raskolnikov. Dostoevsky strays from Raskolnikov’s perspective for a moment to emphasize that a person is watching his moves when he is going to the police with Razumikhin.
The change in point of view creates more drama and tension, because the reader is unaware of whom the person is until the end of Part IV. Dostoevsky’s change in point of view helps the reader be aware of character traits that were not highlighted with Raskolnikov’s mere perspective. This shift also created suspense in the novel and this is essential in those multi-page paragraphs Dostoevsky seems so fond of. Works Cited Dostoevsky, Fyodor. Crime and Punishment. Part II. Oxford: Oxford World’s Classics, 2008.