1. Describe the importance of the city to the plot. How does the city serve as a symbol of society and of Raskolnikov’s state of mind?
2. What impact do the descriptions of the various apartments—including those of Raskolnikov, Alyona, Sonya, Luzhin, and Dunya and Pulcheria Alexandrovna—have on our understanding of the characters who inhabit them and the events that take place within them?
3. Compare the characters of Raskolnikov and Razumikhin. How does Razumikhin describe Raskolnikov, and vice versa? Does Razumikhin serve as Raskolnikov’s foil? Are there other characters who are foils to Raskolnikov?
4. Discuss the use of foreshadowing in the novel. How does foreshadowing increase the level of suspense? Are there times when knowing what will happen later decreases the suspense? What effect does having the murder occur at the very beginning have on the structure of the novel?
5. Lebezyatnikov spouts a variety of theories about society. What role does he play in the novel? How might his character reflect Dostoevsky’s own political experiences?
6. Discuss the development of the theme of religious redemption over the course of the novel.
Essay Topic 1
Dostoevsky introduces Svidrigaylov quite late into the novel. Examine Svidigaylov's character.
1) What do you think are the aims and conflicts of Svidrgaylov's character?
2) Why do you think Dostoevsky introduces Svidrigaylov into the story? What difference do you think he makes to the story?
3) What affect do you think his suicide has on the other characters? Does it change their outlook?
Essay Topic 2
The novel is set in the Russian city of St. Petersburg.
1) What meaning does St. Petersburg bring to the novel? What would you automatically presume about a novel that was set in St. Petersburg?
2) How different do you think today's St. Petersburg is to the St. Petersburg in the novel? How do you think the novel's meaning would change if it were set in today's St. Petersburg?
3) How do you think the interior settings of the novel contribute to the novel's dark atmosphere?
Essay Topic 3
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