Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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Crime and Punishment is a Russian novel written by Fyodor Dostoyevsky in 1866. It is one of his most well-known books and is considered one of the greatest novels in Russian Literature.

Crime and Punishment tells the story of Raskolnikov, a poor intellectual who murders a dishonest pawnbroker. He believes that if he had her money, he might be able to get out of poverty which will in turn would allow him to go on to do great things. He tries to convince himself that some sins are forgivable if they are done with the greater good in mind. You can download our Crime and Punishment PDF by clicking the button below to follow Raskolnikov’s journey of guilt, paranoia and confusion as he struggles to come to terms with the psychological and moral implications of what he has done.

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Yes, it is! Crime and Punishment was first published in 1866 so it is in the public domain. You are therefore welcome to download and read it for free. We hope you enjoy it!

Crime and Punishment Summary

Crime and Punishment follows the story of Rodion Raskolnikov who is a very poor ex-student living in St Petersburg. He knows of an old pawnbroker who cheats people out of money and he believes that if he kills her and takes her money he will become a better man by using her wealth to help people.

One day he meets a man by the name of Marmeladov in a local pub. Marmeladov is an alcoholic and his family is incredibly poor. His daughter Sonya has been forced into prostitution to support the family. Although he knows what his daughter is doing he is unable to quit drinking.

Around the same time, Raskolnikov receives a letter from his mother giving him news about his sister Dunya. His sister was a governess but resigned because her employer made unwanted advances toward her. Dunya decided to accept a marriage proposal from a wealthy man by the name of Luzhin as a way to secure her own poor family’s financial future.

Raskolnikov is overwhelmed by everything and decides to go ahead and kill the pawnbroker. He convinces himself that the sin of murdering her can somehow be forgiven if it is for the greater good. After killing her he starts going through her belongings but while doing so, her sister arrives and he kills her as well.

After the murders, he is horrified by what he has done and ends up only taking a couple of her things. He hides everything he has stolen and begins a journey of mental suffering and turmoil which is explored throughout the rest of the book. He is sick throughout the majority of the book as he battles his own self-loathing and guilt and he takes offense when his family and his best friend, Razumikhin try to help him.

After Sonya’s father is killed by a carriage, Raskolnikov gives her money to help her and her family.

Raskolnikov doesn’t like his sister’s fiance at all and he forbids her from marrying him. After Luzhin insults Dunya’s family she breaks off the engagement. Luzhin then falsely accuses Sonya of stealing from him but he is caught out in the lie.

Raskolnikov later confesses to Sonya that he murdered the pawnbroker and her sister and she tries to convince him to confess the crimes to the police.

Dunya’s former employer, Svidrigailov, overhears Raskolnikov’s confession and tries to use the information to blackmail Dunya into accepting him. When he finally accepts that she will never love him he commits suicide.

Finally, Raskolnikov surrenders himself to the police. He is convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison in Serbia doing hard labor. Sonya leaves St. Petersburg and follows him to Serbia where she visits him often. In the meantime, Dunya and Raskolnikov’s loyal friend Razumikhin get married.

Initially, while in prison, Raskolnikov refuses to apologize for the murders. However, following an illness, he realizes that he will never experience happiness and peace again unless he changes. He then finally accepts what he is done and begins to heal.

Crime and Punishment Characters

Raskolnikov (Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov)

The novel’s main character, Raskolnikov, is a 23-year-old former student who is penniless and living in a tiny back room in an apartment block. Dostoyevsky describes Raskolnikov as cynical, cold, and antisocial but at the same time also as kind and warm. The book’s major plot revolves around Rakolnikov’s internal turmoil which begins when he decides to murder the pawnbroker. Throughout most of the book, Raskolnikov is sick, overcome by his feelings of guilt, self-loathing, and isolation.

Sonya (Sofya Semyonovna Marmeladova)

Sonya is the only person who Raskolnikov has a real and meaningful relationship within the book. She is the daughter of a drunk named Marmeladov who Raskolnikov meets at the beginning of the novel. Because her family is destitute she is forced to become a prostitute to help them. Despite her situation, she doesn’t become cold and hard but remains shy and innocent and holds to a strong religious faith. Sonya is the first person to whom Raskolnikov confesses the pawnbroker’s murder and she stands with him and supports him on his journey back to life and love.

Dunya (Avdotya Romanovna Raskolnikova)

Dunya is Raskolnikov’s sister. She is said to be incredibly beautiful as well as intelligent, strong-willed, kind, and compassionate. She works as a governess but she is very unhappy with her employer because he makes unwanted advances toward her. She resigns and becomes engaged to a wealthy lawyer by the name of Luzhin believing that this will help her to get her family out of poverty. Raskolnikov is very unhappy when he finds out about her engagement and this plays a part in his decision to murder the pawnbroker. Dunya ends up calling off her engagement when Luzhin insults her family. She finally ends up marrying Razumikhin.

Razumíkhin (Dmitry Prokofyich)

Razumikhin is a former law student and just like Raskolnikov, he is just as poor. However, unlike Raskolnikov, his solution to poverty is to work hard to better himself. He is one of Raskolnikov’s most loyal friends and supports him without question. Although naive he is strong, resourceful and intelligent. He steps in and takes care of Raskolnikov’s family when they arrive in St. Petersburg. He falls in love with Dunya and eventually marries her.

Arkady Ivanovich Svidrigailov

Svidrigailov is Dunya’s former employer. He is in love with her and pursues her throughout most of the book. He overhears Raskolnikov when he tells Sonya about the murders but never goes to the police. He finally gives up on his pursuit of Dunya when she tells him that she could never love him after she attempts to shoot him. At the end of the book, he commits suicide after giving Sonya 3,000 rubles. He also makes sure that Marmeladov’s children get into a good orphanage before he ends his life.

Porfiry Petrovich

Petrovich is the magistrate in charge of the investigation into the pawnbroker’s murder. Towards the end of the book, he convinces Raskolnikov to confess to the murder for his own sanity and well-being.

Semyon Zakharovich Marmeladov

Marmeladov is a drunk that Raskolnikov meets at a local Tavern while he is still thinking about killing the pawnbroker. Marmeladov is Sonya’s father. He is very much aware of what his drinking does to his family and what his daughter is doing to support the family but he can’t stop. He finally dies when he falls under the wheels of a carriage although it is unclear whether it was an accident or whether he purposefully fell.

Luzhin (Pyotr Petrovich)

Luzhin is a wealthy lawyer who is Dunya’s fiance. He’s selfish, arrogant, and narrow-minded. He wants to marry Dunya because of her beauty and Intelligence but he also knows that because she’s incredibly poor she will be indebted to him. He falsely accuses Sonya of stealing as a way of alienating Dunya from her family.

Pulcheria Alexandrovna Raskolnikov

Pulcheria is Rakolnico’s mother. She believes completely in Rakolnicov and is willing to sacrifice everything for him including her own and her daughter’s happiness. Even after he confesses to the murder she is unwilling to admit that he is a killer.

Alyona Ivanovna

Alyona is the pawnbroker who Raskolnikov murders. She cheats people out of money and Raskolnikov resents her for this.

Lizaveta Ivanovna

Lizanvet is Alyona’s sister. Raskolnikov also murders Lizaveta when she stumbles into her sister’s apartment while Raskolnikov is still there after the murder. Sonya later tells him that she and Lizaveta were friends.

Nikolai Dementiev (“Mikolka”)

Nikolai is suspected of the murders and is arrested. He was working as a painter in an adjoining apartment on the days of the murders and he eventually confesses to the crimes even though he’s innocent.


Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment is a masterpiece that explores the complex themes of morality in relation to crime. It explores the psychology of the criminal and the terrible impact that crime has not only on the victims but also on the criminal, their family and all the people in their lives. If you haven’t read this amazing book yet, feel free to download a free copy of the Crime and Punishment PDF book here. It’s Free!