The novel’s protagonist, Raskolnikov murders Lizaveta and the old woman and spends the rest of the book coming to terms with his crime and with the touches of madness that follow. It is never clear… (read full character analysis)
Raskolnikov’s mother, Pulcheria writes to him early in the novel to inform him of Dunya’s engagement to Luzhin. Pulcheria loves Raskolnikov dearly and fears for his health when she meets with him in Petersburg… (read full character analysis)
A drunk and former government official, Marmeladov is later killed when run over by a wagon. His widow Katerina attempts to support their family on a very small amount of money. Marmeladov represents the endpoint… (read full character analysis)
Marmeladov’s child from his first marriage, Sonya becomes a prostitute after Katerina complains that she does nothing to help the family financially. She also reads the story of Lazarus to Raskolnikov on his request. Sonya… (read full character analysis)
Raskolnikov’s closest and perhaps only friend, Razumikhin becomes an adoptive son to Pulcheria and a husband to Dunya. As Raskolnikov pulls away from the family, Razumikhin grows ever closer. He is a foil to… (read full character analysis)
Dunya’s suitor, Luzhin is a petty government official who believes that women make for better wives when they are monetarily indebted to their husbands. Luzhin is later chased away by Dunya, who is insulted by… (read full character analysis)
Luzhin’s roommate in Petersburg, Lebezyatnikov is a representative of the “new liberal ideas,” which include broader, less formal definitions of marriage and equality for women. Lebezyatnikov sees that Luzhin has placed a 100-rouble note on… (read full character analysis)
The two painters get in a fight in the second-floor apartment during the murder, allowing Raskolnikov to hide and later escape. Nikolai is suspected of murdering the old woman and Lizaveta, for a time… (read full character analysis)
Avdotya (Dunya) Romanovna Raskolnikov
Raskolnikov’s sister, Dunya is to be married to Luzhin, which Raskolnikov fears is to take place to shore up the family financially and therefore make his own life more comfortable. Dunya loves her brother deeply and eventually marries Razumikhin.
Katerina Ivanovna Marmeladov
Marmeladov’s wife, Katerina is crushed by poverty and eventually succumbs to madness and tuberculosis. She wishes to protect her family but also contributes to the incredible unhappiness her children feel, for she beats them mercilessly.
Polenka, Kolka, and Lidochka Marmeladov
Katerina’s children, Polenka, Kolka, and Lidochka must manage under the weight of extreme poverty. Raskolnikov tells Sonya that the children ought to be provided for, so that Polenka does not have to resort to prostitution—as Sonya must.
Marfa Petrovna Svidrigailov
Svidrigailov’s wife, Marfa clears Dunya’s name after falsely accusing her of pursuing Svidrigailov. Marfa and Svidrigailov had an arrangement during their marriage whereby Svidrigailov was permitted to sleep with some servant-women. Marfa also gave Svidrigailov a significant amount of money before her death.
The investigator who pursues Raskolnikov, he is the novel’s other antagonist. Porfiry suspects for much of the novel that Raskolnikov is the true killer; his circuitous psychological techniques infuriate Raskolnikov into more or less admitting his guilt.
Alexander Grigorievich Zamyotov
A clerk in the police station, Zamyotov runs into Raskolnikov at a tavern. There Raskolnikov lays out a playful and frightening declaration of how he would have committed the murders. This raises suspicions for Zamyotov, who informs Porfiry.
Raskolnikov’s maid, Nastasya attempts to get him to eat and drink and serves as a surrogate mother for him in the novel’s early chapters.
Alyona Ivanovna (the pawnbroker)
One of Raskolnikov’s victims, the pawnbroker is said by some, including Raskolnikov, to be a “louse,” a woman who takes advantage of others and therefore deserves to die. Raskolnikov believes, until the Epilogue, that killing the pawnbroker was not entirely immoral because she herself was so wretched a creature.
The other of Raskolnikov’s victims and admitted by Raskolnikov to be innocent, Lizaveta is the shy sister of the pawnbroker, who often helps out by serving as a middleman between merchants and buyers in the Haymarket neighborhood.
Ilya Petrovich, “Gunpowder”
The assistant to the police chief, Gunpowder intimidates Raskolnikov early in the novel, when he has come to the station to inquire about a summons for back-payment of rent. Raskolnikov confesses his guilt to Gunpowder at the end of the book.
Katerina’s landlady, Amalia feuds often with Katerina and eventually kicks her and the family out onto the street on the day of Marmeladov’s funeral feast.
A young doctor, he tends to Raskolnikov early in the work and declares him initially fit. Later Zossimov fears that Raskolnikov has gone insane.