Crime and Punishment: Selfless Love
“For one she loves, for one she adores, she will sell herself! - Crime and Punishment: Selfless Love introduction! That’s what it all amount to; for her brother, for her mother, she will sell herself! She will sell everything! ” (Dostoyevsky. Part 1. Chapter 4. pp. 53). The above statements were spoken by Raskolnikov, the novel’s protagonist, after reading the letter given by his mother, Pulcheria Alexandrovna. The letter stated that her sister, Dounia, will be married to Luzhin. Her mother told him of the reasons why his sister did it, which centers on him.
Instead of being happy for his future’s security, Raskolnikov became very angry since his sister will sacrifice herself for her brother and mother’s sake. In reality, some people also tend to sacrifice themselves for the sake of others, like Dounia. They do it just to give hope and courage for their love ones. Their sacrifice is all out of love — the reason why they are willing to surrender their own happiness and face its consequences even though it is life changing. In the novel, Crime and Punishment, Dounia and Sonia are the two women who show exemplary traits – the willingness to sacrifice themselves for the sake of their love ones.
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As the novel goes on, we will see how Dounia and Sonia contribute to the progress of the novel, exhibit selfless love, and show the differences and similarities of each other. Before delving on their character, it is important to know who these women are. It is better to identify their basic differences such as their physical appearance, attitude, social status, and work. From these, we can connect their similarities and how their character highlights the novel’s protagonist. Avdotya Romanovna Raskolnikov, known as Dounia, is the sister of Raskolnikov the novel’s protagonist.
“She was remarkably good-looking; she was tall, trikingly well-proportioned, strong and self-reliant…In face she resembled her brother, but she might be described as really beautiful…there was a proud light in her almost black eyes and yet at times a look of extraordinary kindness” (Dostoyevsky. Part 3. Chapter 1. pp. 241). She is also the bread winner of her mother, Pulcheria Alexandrovna, wherein she toiled over at Marfa Petrovna’s residence. While his brother lives in “his garret under the roof of a high, five-storied house, and was more like a cupboard than a room…he was hopelessly in debt to his landlady, and was afraid of meeting her” (Dostoyevsky.Part 1. Chapter 1. pp. 1). Her family experiences poverty. Though her mother receives pension from her deceased husband, she still needs to work for her family to satisfy their own needs. On the other hand, Sofya Semyonovna Marmeladov, known as Sonia, is the opposite of Dounia’s physical appearance.
“She had a thin, very thin, little face, rather irregular and angular, with a sharp little nose and chin. She could not have been called pretty, but her blue eyes were so clear, and when they lighted up, there was such a kindliness and simplicity in her expression that one could not help being attracted” (Dostoyevsky. Part 3. Chapter 4. pp. 281). She is Marmeladov’s daughter and Raskolnikov’s love interest whom he shares a meaningful relationship. Her family lives in “a grimy little door at the very top of the stairs stood ajar. A very poor looking room about ten paces long was lighted up by candle-end; the whole of it was visible entrance. It was all in disorder, uttered up with rags of all sorts…It appeared that the family had a room to themselves, not part of a room, but their room was practically a passage” (Dostoyevsky. Part 1. Chapter 2. pp. 28-29). Like Dounia, Sonya also experiences poverty.
She is the bread winner of her family since his father was an alcoholic drinker. She works hard just to provide the needs of her family. As we can see, both women have different appearances though they have the same economic status – being from the marginalized sector. Moreover, their beauty is attractive. At first glance, we are drawn towards Dounia’s whole physical being. Her face and body is beautiful and striking to others. However, Sonia’s beauty was different; it was more on internal beauty. Unlike Dounia, Sonia’s beauty takes time to be noticed.
Her beauty is a small hole that we need to focus in order to appreciate its beauty. These two women were also different in their working field. They are both poor yet, Dounia has a higher standing than Sonia. Dounia was hired as governess who takes care of the children in the family of Marfa Petrovna and Svidrigailov (Dostoyevsky. Part 1, Chapter 3 pp. 37). Dounia’s standing was also regarded in the society as somewhat above the low class. Sonia, on the other hand, has a yellow ticket which means she is a prostitute (Dostoyevsky, Part 1, Chapter 2, pp. 16).
It is obvious that the nature of her work is lower than of Dounia because of the fact that she needs to sell his dignity in exchange for money. Though both of them have a low class job, they still pursue it for the sake of their family’s needs. Another difference of the two women is about how they handle a problem. Dounia is more capable of dealing with circumstances. It was evident when she chose to not follow her fiance request on their meeting. Luzhin invited them to have a meeting with him without Raskolnikov presence, since he does not want his attitude.
However, Dounia did not follow his request; instead she invited her brother for her to have an opportunity to reconcile them. In that gathering, she discovered how bad he is after all the offensive words he said towards her and her family. She valiantly broke her relationship with him and shouts with anger, “Pyotr Petrovitch, go away” (Dostoyevsky. Part 4. Chapter 2. pp. 358). Luzhin turned pale and his lips quivered, “Avdotya Romanovna, if I go out of this door now, after such dismissal, then, you may reckon on it, I will never come back. Consider what you are doing. My word is not to be shaken” (Dostoyevsky. Part 4. Chapter 2. pp. 358).
But Dounia fearlessly replied springing up from her seat, “What insolence!… I don’t want you to come back again” (Dostoyevsky. Part 4. Chapter 2. pp. 358). As we can see, she showed how courageous she was by giving up Luzhin who supposed to be her sacrifice for her family. She was heeding his brother’s advice that he is not the man for her to marry. In addition, Dounia was also described by her mother in Raskolnikov’s letter as clever and strong, she can also “endure a great deal and even in the most difficult cases she has the fortitude to maintain firmness” (Dostoyevsky. Part 1. Chapter 3. pp. 38). Dounia was very tough in facing her problems to the extent that she was able to stand on what she believes that is right. Even though the public disgraced her because of wrong accusations, she was still firm to face the people and proved to them that she has done nothing wrong. Nevertheless, Sonia was different from Dounia because she was weak in confrontations. One instance was when Sonia visited Raskolnikov to invite him in his father’s funeral and memorial dinner. She was shameful to Raskolnikov’s family.
In one instance, “Sonia sat down, almost shaking with terror, and looked timidly at the two ladies. It was evidently almost inconceivable to herself that she could sit down beside them. At the thought of it, she was so frightened that she hurriedly got up again, and in utter confusion addressed Raskolnikov. ” (Dostoyevsky. Part 3. Chapter 4. pp. 280). Another instance was when Luzhin accused her of stealing his one hundred roubles. She defended herself and told them that she did not steal his money. However, when one hundred roubles was found in her pocket, she loses herself. She cry and ran to Katerina Ivanovna, who clasped her tightly in her arms, as though she would shelter her from the entire world” (Dostoyevsky. Part 5. Chapter 3. pp. 462). In that scene, Sonia acted like a child who longed protection from her mother. Instead of defending herself, Katerina Ivanovna made it for her. Despite their differences, they also have similarities that made them stand out throughout the novel. These similarities highlight Raskolnikov’s character as well as contribute to the development of the novel.
Both of them have an exemplary heart. Above mentioned, these two women are able to sacrifice their happiness for the sake of their love ones. Their passionate love for their families exceeds to the point that they were not able to recognize the good for themselves. They only think what is good for their love ones which make them become unselfish because they are willing to offer their selfless love for them. Suffering, Sacrifice, and Love are the words that best describes Dounia’s and Sonia’s similarities.
These three words are able to help them to achieve giving selfless love—a love that having no concern for themselves instead for the others. First thing in common to Dounia and Sonia was their suffering. Since, both of them were thinking on what is good for their love ones; they were willing to suffer in spite of all pains they may encounter. In Dounia’s case, her love and compassion to his brother make her courageous to face all her struggles in Svidrigailov since “he treated her very rudely, and used to make disrespectful and jeering remarks at table…all those painful details” (Dostoyevsky. Part 1. Chapter 3. pp. 37).
It is for the sake of Raskolnikov why Dounia was still there to continue her work in Svidrigailov’s house since she knew that her brother needs financial assistance. What’s worst was she suffered from public shame because of him and Marfa’s false statement. “For a whole month the town was full of gossip about this scandal and it came to such pass that Dounia and I dared not even go to the church on account of the contemptuous looks, whispers, and even remarks made aloud about us” (Dostoyevsky. Part 1. Chapter 3. pp. 39). In spite of all this, she is still firm and strong to face other people as if her face implicitly telling them that she was innocent. “Dounia can endure a great deal and even in the most difficult cases she has the fortitude to maintain her firmness” ((Dostoyevsky. Part 1. Chapter 3. pp. 38). Even though she was suffering from public humiliation, her love for her brother and her innocence makes her determined. On the other hand, Sonia also suffers from forcing herself to do something that was against her will.
Though, she did not have any choice but to follow Katerina Ivanovna, she has to continue her work to sustain the family needs. Another suffering she faced was the social standing. We all know that she came from a poor family. She needs to work hard to earn more income to satisfy Katerina’s needs as well as her younger siblings. Since his father, Marmeladov, died, she already shouldered all the responsibility left by her father. However, regardless of her indecent work and experiencing poverty, her heart was still pure and she did not lose faith. The second word they have in common was sacrifice.
Sacrifice was the most palpable among the three words. It is because their sacrifice only shows how much they will do for their love ones and how much they can give themselves for the sake of them. The sacrifice they show gives height to the drama of the novel. Concerning Dounia, she was willing and ready to marry Luzhin for the sake of her family. In Pulcheria’s letter to Raskolnikov, it is stated that her marriage to Luzhin has a good effect to their family since he can help Raskolnikov to finish his study and can provide a good carreer for him in the future.
As what the novel stated, “So, Rodya dear, he may be a great use to you, in every way indeed, and Dounia and I have agreed that from this very day you could definitely enter upon your career and might consider that your future is marked out and assured for you” (Dostoyevsky. Part 1. Chapter 3. pp. 45). It is indeed that Dounia was considering his family when she gets married. She was willing to sacrifice herself for the benefit of her family. Since, “she knew that she will gain every thing by her good influence over her future husband; this she is reckoning upon” (Dostoyevsky. Part 1. Chapter 3. pp. 5). Indeed she was very willing to sacrifice her own happiness for the sake of his brother’s and mother’s happiness. Sonia, on the other hand, exhibits her sacrifice when she pursued her work even if it was against in her dignity.
As if she was trapped in one choice, Sonia sacrificed her physical purity for the sake of her family. “You don’t know, you don’t know what a heart she has, what a girl she is! She takes it! She? She’d sell her last rag; she’d go barefoot to help you if you needed it, that’s what she is! She has yellow passport because my children were starving, she hold herself for us! (Dostoyevsky. Part 5. Chapter 3. pp. 462). In this dramatic line stated by Katerina Ivanovna, we can already see how Dounia is willing to give all what she has for the sake of her love ones. Almost nothing left to her. She already gave everything that she has. That is how we can imagine how big heart she has that she was able to cater the needs of her love ones even though nothing lefts to her. Lastly, Love is the main similarity that Dounia and Sonia have. Through love, they learn how to face their sufferings and they learn how to sacrifice their own good for the benefit of others.
Their pure heart only shows how much they can give for the others. Dounia’s and Sonia’s character brings love, which is the main contribution, in the whole novel. Their love brings light in the novel that helps Raskolnikov to face the consequences of his sin. Also their loves gives highlight to Raskolnikov’s character that helps him to renew himself. Sonia, because of her love to Raskolnikov, follows him until Siberia and still willing to follows him everywhere in spite of what Raskolnikov did. “No, no, never, nowhere! cried Sonia. “ I will follow you, I will follow you everywhere. Oh, my God!
Oh, how miserable I am!… Why, why didn’t I know you before? Why didn’t I know you before? Oh, dear! ” (Dostoyevsky. Part 5. Chapter 4. pp. 480). Nonetheless, Dounia also exibits his love for his brother in almost last part of the novel wherein when they part, Dounia states that, “and now I have come simply to say that if you need me or should need…all my life or anything…call me, and I’ll come. Good-bye! ” (Dostoyevsky. Part 5. Chapter 5. pp. 497). Like Sonia, Dounia also assures Raskolnikov that she was always there beside him, that whenever he will need his sister, she is always there for him.
Though Raskolnikov is prison to Siberia, the love that binds them, even how far he is, is still connected. Similar to love that binds people; Dounia and Sonia become the tools of the author to bind all the characters and to highlights Raskolnikov character. Through their similarities and differences, their characters become more emphasize such as their relevance in building up the novel. As a sum up, their differences are mainly physical and objective while their similarities are can be found deep in their being which is harder to nurture—selfless love.