Raskolnikov, a poor university student, lived in a small five-story apartment in a poor Petersburg slum. He had been forced to drop out of law school because he could not afford his tuition, and now lived off the money his mother and sister had saved from a tight budget. He hasn’t paid his rent for a long time. Of late the landlady had not only stopped feeding him, but was pressing him very hard for rent. Then he met Marmeladov, a junior civil servant. Marmeladov was driven to despair by unemployment, and his eldest daughter Sofia was forced to become a street prostitute. Raskolnikov did not want to be like Marmeladov, but he wanted to do something to prove that he was a very extraordinary man. The proprietress of the pawnshop, not far from where he lived, was a usurer, merciless. One night, while she was alone, Raskolnikov broke into the house and killed her. Raskolnikov, in a panic, killed the landlady’s half-sister, who was returning.
The next morning he received a summons from the police. He was horrified, but was relieved to learn later that he was chasing after the money he owed. As he was leaving, he overheard the officer talking about last night’s murder and passed out to get the officer’s attention. When he regained consciousness, he went home and was bedridden for several days, before recovering. After the murder, Raskolnikov, unable to get rid of his fear because of the painful conflicts in his heart, felt that he had lost all his original good feelings. This was a punishment of conscience more severe than the punishment of law. He was conscious that he had failed. So he came to Sofia in anguish of heart, and, inspired by Sofia’s religious ideas, told her the truth and the motive of the crime. Persuaded by Sonia, he turned himself in to the police. Sentenced to eight years of hard labor, Raskolnikov traveled to Siberia. Sofia was soon there too. The two met early one morning by the river. They are determined to have faith in God, to suffer all kinds of sufferings in a penitent mood and to gain spiritual rebirth.