Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment

Criminality, Morality, and Guilt Theme Analysis

Themes and Colors
Criminality, Morality, and Guilt Theme Icon
Madness and Intoxication Theme Icon
Coincidence and Free Will Theme Icon
Money and Poverty Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Crime and Punishment, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Criminality, Morality, and Guilt Theme Icon

Criminality, morality, and guilt are central preoccupations of Dostoevsky’s. Raskolnikov commits the great crime of the novel: he robs and murders the pawnbroker and her sister Lizaveta, an innocent bystander. Raskolnikov must come to terms with his feeling, or lack of feeling, of remorse for the act, and his motive is never fully resolved. He argues that the pawnbroker did no good for society and therefore her death is of no consequence; he also admits, later, to not understanding why he has killed. The remainder of the novel charts Raskolnikov’s interactions with friends, family, and police representatives. His friend Razumikhin, sister Dunya, and mother Pulcheria suspect Raskolnikov’s guilt only after many days; others, like Porfiry Petrovich, the investigator, and Zamyotov, a law clerk, take early note of Raskolnikov’s strange behavior and obsession with the murders.

It is revealed that, as a law student, Raskolnikov has written a magazine article claiming that “extraordinary” individuals might “overstep” the law—commit crimes—in order to create new laws and a new social order. He cites Napoleon and Muhammad as great “oversteppers.” Raskolnikov comes to recognize that, although he has acted believing himself to be an extraordinary individual, his remorse and subsequent mental instability prove he is ordinary after all. This, more than anything, convinces him to confess his guilt to the authorities. He is sentenced to eight years’ hard labor in Siberia, where Sonya joins him.

Other characters, too, have brushes with criminality and immorality. Sonya lives as a prostitute, and her father Marmeladov is a terrible drunk who cannot maintain a job. His wife Katerina beats her children, and Svidrigailov, who attempted to seduce Dunya in the provinces, continues with his womanizing in Petersburg, and is rumored to have poisoned his wife Marfa after an argument. Svidrigailov later commits suicide. Thus, even as Raskolnikov attempts his moral rehabilitation in Siberia, Petersburg remains a city of crime and temptation.

Related themes icon Related Themes from Other Texts
Compare and contrast themes from other texts to this theme…
Get the entire Crime and Punishment LitChart as a printable PDF.
Crime and punishment.pdf.medium

Criminality, Morality, and Guilt Quotes in Crime and Punishment

Below you will find the important quotes in Crime and Punishment related to the theme of Criminality, Morality, and Guilt.
Part 1, Chapter 1 Quotes

Details, details above all! . . . It’s these details that ruin everything always . . .

Related Characters: Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov (speaker)
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Crime and Punishment quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Part 1, Chapter 2 Quotes

It is necessary that every man have at least somewhere to go.

Related Characters: Semyon Zakharovich Marmeladov (speaker)
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Part 1, Chapter 5 Quotes

God . . . but can it be, can it be that I will really take an axe and hit her on the head and smash her skull . . . ?

Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Part 1, Chapter 6 Quotes

If he had ever once managed to analyze and finally decide everything down to the last detail . . . at that point he would most likely have renounced it all as absurd, monstrous, and impossible.

Related Characters: Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov
Page Number: 69
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Part 1, Chapter 7 Quotes

But a sort of absentmindedness, even something like reverie, began gradually to take possession of him: as if he forgot himself at moments . . . and clung to trifles.

Related Characters: Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov
Page Number: 80
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Part 2, Chapter 2 Quotes

If indeed this whole thing was done consciously and not foolheadedly . . . then how is it that so far you have not even looked into the purse and do not know what you’ve actually gained?

Related Characters: Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov (speaker)
Page Number: 110
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Part 2, Chapter 4 Quotes

And if we look straight, in all ways—will there be many good people left? No, in that case I’m sure that I, with all my innards, would be worth about as much as one baked onion!

Related Characters: Dmitri Prokofych Razumikhin (speaker)
Page Number: 133
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Part 2, Chapter 6 Quotes

"And what if it was I who killed the old woman and Lizaveta?"

"But can it be?"

"Admit that you believed it! Right? Am I right?"

Page Number: 165
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Part 2, Chapter 7 Quotes

He finally got it!

Page Number: 178
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Part 3, Chapter 4 Quotes

Despite her eighteen years, she looked almost like a little girl, much younger than her age . . . and this sometimes even appeared comically in some of her movements.

Related Characters: Sonya Semyonovna Marmeladov
Page Number: 238
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Part 3, Chapter 6 Quotes

. . . only peasants or the most inexperienced novices deny everything outright and all down the line. A man with even a bit of development . . . will certainly try to admit as far as possible all the external and unavoidable facts.

Related Characters: Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov (speaker)
Page Number: 269
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Part 4, Chapter 6 Quotes

One little word, Rodion Romanovich, sir; concerning everything else, it’s as God wills, but all the same we’ll have to ask you a thing or two formally, sir . . . so we’ll be seeing each other right enough, sir.

Related Characters: Porfiry Petrovich (speaker), Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov
Page Number: 353
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Part 5, Chapter 4 Quotes

Nonsense! I simply killed—killed for myself, for myself alone . . . and it was not money above all that I wanted when I killed . . . .

Related Characters: Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov (speaker)
Page Number: 419
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Part 6, Chapter 1 Quotes

He’s a political conspirator, he is, for sure, for sure!

Page Number: 446
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Part 6, Chapter 2 Quotes

You’d run away, and come back on your own. It’s impossible for you to do without us.

Related Characters: Porfiry Petrovich (speaker), Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov
Page Number: 461
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Part 6, Chapter 6 Quotes

"Well, never mind, brother. It’s a good place. If they start asking you, just tell them he went to America."

"Oi, dat’s not allowed, it’s de wrong place!"

Related Characters: Arkady Ivanovich Svidrigailov (speaker)
Page Number: 511
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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 Symbols: Lazarus
Page Number: 520
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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 Symbols: Lazarus
Page Number: 551
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile