Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment

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Lazarus Symbol Icon
A Biblical character from the Gospel of John, Lazarus is a man dead for four days and placed in a tomb. When Jesus arrives in town and is told of Lazarus’ death, he asks God for the ability to raise Lazarus in order to demonstrate his (and God’s) power, and to convince those in the surrounding area that he is indeed the Messiah. Raskolnikov asks Sonya to read this passage to him from her New Testament, and Porfiry asks whether Raskolnikov believes in God, and whether, specifically, he believes in the truth of the Lazarus story. Lazarus’s return from the dead echoes Raskolnikov’s own “living death”—the madness that closes in on him following the murder, which eventually causes his confession and eight-year sentence in a prison camp. It is there that Raskolnikov uncovers Sonya’s same copy of the New Testament. And like a man raised from the dead, he becomes truly penitent, realizing that his remaining years in the camp are not so long, and that he will be sustained by the power of Sonya’s love and “reborn” into a new life.

Lazarus Quotes in Crime and Punishment

The Crime and Punishment quotes below all refer to the symbol of Lazarus. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Criminality, Morality, and Guilt Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage edition of Crime and Punishment published in 1993.
Part 3, Chapter 3 Quotes

What I’m driving at . . . is that your complete recovery now depends chiefly on you yourself. . . . I should like to impress upon you that it is necessary to eliminate the original, so to speak, radical causes that influenced the onset of your ill condition.

Related Characters: Dr. Zossimov (speaker), Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov
Related Symbols: Lazarus
Page Number: 223
Explanation and Analysis:

Dr. Zossimov appears genuinely to want to help Raskolnikov, perhaps for Raskolnikov's sake, and certainly for Pulcheria's, who fears desperately for the fate of her son, as does Dunya. Zossimov's encouragement that the young man find the "root cause" of his struggles is, of course, an ironic one. For that root cause could be, on the one hand, whatever drove Raskolnikov to commit the two murders in the first place - that untraceable desire for action and intervention into an unfeeling and hopeless world - but the root cause could also be the guilt that Raskolnikov feels over having committed the murders themselves. Zossimov naturally does not know that Raskolnikov is guilty of these crimes, but perhaps he does sense, at this point in the novel, that the young man has done something, or things, that he regrets. And in order to feel better, Raskolnikov must purge himself of some of the guilt he feels, for the guilt underlies his madness. 

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Part 4, Chapter 4 Quotes

Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave . . . . Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. . . . Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou has heard me, . . . and he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth.

Related Characters: Sonya Semyonovna Marmeladov (speaker)
Related Symbols: Lazarus
Page Number: 327
Explanation and Analysis:

This passage comes from one of the recurring motifs in the work. Raskolnikov asks Sonya to read from this passage in the Gospels, because he identifies deeply with Lazarus, a man who was dead and was revived, a man who has seen "the other side" and returned to life, but who has difficulty describing what he has passed through. Perhaps Raskolnikov, although he does not state this directly, worries that he, too, might only be "purified" through dying, as Lazarus has died. He fears that the only method of escaping his own guilt is to die. Or perhaps Raskolnikov merely marvels at the wonder of Jesus having brought someone back to life before Jesus' own resurrection in the Gospels. Raskolnikov does not come out and explicitly identify why he is so fixated on this story - but the idea of rebirth, of being dragged from death back into life, is an object of clear fascination for him. 

Part 6, Chapter 7 Quotes

I’m wicked, I see that . . . but why do they love me so, when I’m unworthy of it!

Related Characters: Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov (speaker), Pulcheria Alexandrovna Raskolnikov, Avdotya (Dunya) Romanovna Raskolnikov
Related Symbols: Lazarus
Page Number: 520
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Raskolnikov references a belief relating to a fundamentally Christian idea, as it is developed throughout the novel - that of the golden rule, in which others are to be treated the way they would wish to be treated. Dunya and Pulcheria love the young man unconditionally, and they do their best to demonstrate to him this love, despite whatever he might have done or might do in the future. They do this because they wish to be loved by him, because they treat him the way they want to be treated, because they are religious people, and, ultimately, to believe that the world works in this way, with people caring for those who care for them.

Raskolnikov finally seems to understand the unconditional nature of this life, even as he has a hard time understanding what it might mean for him - how they can love him after what he has done. This love, for Raskolnikov, is now only a source of pain for him, and though he understands it better in this scene, he still has a difficult time accepting it. 

Epilogue, Chapter 2 Quotes

At the beginning of their happiness there were moments when they were both ready to look at those seven years as if they were seven days. He did not even know that a new life would not be given him for nothing, that it still had to be dearly bought, to be paid for with a great future deed . . . .

Related Characters: Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, Sonya Semyonovna Marmeladov
Related Symbols: Lazarus
Page Number: 551
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Dostoevsky discusses another fundamentally Christian idea, that of redemption. The time in the camp is nothing compared to cosmic time - the chain of human existence moving forward and backward from Raskolnikov's and Sonya's time on earth. Thus Raskolnikov, who has found religion during his time away in the penal colony, and who has dedicated his life to living well and to helping Sonya, knows that he must somehow do something "great" in the future to make up for the harm he has caused others. 

He does not know exactly what this deed might be, and in this way the author leaves open the end of the novel for a possible sequel (never written). But Raskolnikov is also ennobled at this thought. For though a great future deed might be a difficult one to achieve, it is also a deed that remains possible - it is an indication of hope. Before, Raskolnikov had no hope, and he committed the murders in part because he felt his life to be without future and without direction. Even though a good deal of hard work lies in front of him, he nevertheless has found that future and that hope, as the author takes pains to make clear. 

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Lazarus Symbol Timeline in Crime and Punishment

The timeline below shows where the symbol Lazarus appears in Crime and Punishment. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 3, Chapter 5
Criminality, Morality, and Guilt Theme Icon
Madness and Intoxication Theme Icon
Coincidence and Free Will Theme Icon
...asks whether Raskolnikov believes in God, the New Testament, and in particular the story of Lazarus, who is raised from the dead by Jesus in the Book of John. Porfiry goes... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 4
Criminality, Morality, and Guilt Theme Icon
Madness and Intoxication Theme Icon
Coincidence and Free Will Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...Testament and asks Lizaveta to read to him the section in John of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. She hesitates, afraid of Raskolnikov, but begins to read. (full context)
Coincidence and Free Will Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
In the story of Lazarus, Jesus arrives in a town and is asked why he did not save Lazarus, who... (full context)
Epilogue, Chapter 2
Criminality, Morality, and Guilt Theme Icon
Madness and Intoxication Theme Icon
Coincidence and Free Will Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...given him by Sonya and from which he had her read him the story of Lazarus. (full context)