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Marmeladov's Family & Death in Crime and Punishment

Instructor: Jacob Belknap

Jake has taught English in middle and high school, has a degree in Literature, and has a master's degree in teaching.

''Crime and Punishment'' by Fyodor Dostoevsky tells of Raskolnikov's terrible crime and eventual salvation. This lesson will explore Marmeladov, his family, and his accidental death.

A Beneficial Accident?

Has there ever been an accident that worked to benefit you? Luckily for the character Raskolnikov, he is present during a tragic accident that turns his life around. The Russian Fyodor Dostoevsky's novel surrounding Raskolnikov is titled Crime and Punishment. The story tells of this man's murderous crime, personal punishment, and ultimate redemption.

One family that played an important role in the redemption of Raskolnikov from his crime is that of Marmeladov. Let's will explore this man, his family, and his unfortunate death.

Marmeladov

As with most characters in this novel, Dostoevsky refers to Semyon Zaharovitch Marmeladov mostly by his last name. Marmeladov is an alcoholic who spends most of his family's money on drinking. His habit even forces one of his daughters into prostitution, but still he uses the money she earns to get drunk. His alcoholism eventually leads directly to his downfall.

Although he drinks to the detriment of his family, he is not a bad guy. He loves his family. He is not wicked or harshly selfish in the same way that characters such as Svidrigaïlov are. The novel mostly treats his drinking as an illness to be pitied.

Raskolnikov takes pity on Marmeladov after meeting him in, of course, a tavern. His care for the Marmeladov family deepens after a family tragedy.

Marmeladov's Family

Let's take a quick look at the members of the Marmeladov family. Katrina, Marmeladov's wife, comes from a somewhat privileged family and has three children from a previous marriage to an abusive husband. She loves her family and works hard to give them what they need.

She also has an extreme view of people she feels are beneath her. It is Katrina who convinces Sonia to become a prostitute to provide money for the family. Katrina is very ill during her appearances in the book. She collapses after dragging her children onto the streets during her husband's funeral and dies soon afterward.

Sonia is Marmeladov's daughter who is forced into prostitution at a young age to provide for her family. Although she takes on this debasing profession, she remains a shy, nervous, innocent character who is devoutly religious. She sacrifices herself for her family. She develops a tenderness for Raskolnikov after her father's accident.

Polenka, Lida, and Kolya are the three children from Katrina's previous marriage. Polenka is the oldest and takes care of her two younger siblings.

Marmeladov's Death

The Marmeladov family surrounds the dying man.
dying

Let's move now from Marmeladov's family to his untimely demise. In part two of the novel, just as Raskolnikov leaves an uncomfortable meeting with the policeman Zamyotov, he sees a crowd gather outside. Approaching the scene, he notices his friend Marmeladov in the middle. The poor man is drunk and was run over by a carriage. Raskolnikov enlists others present to help him bring the man back to the Marmeladov home.

Marmeladov is in bad shape. He is mostly unconscious and there is blood everywhere. Raskolnikov offers to pay for a doctor and get the man settled. Katrina is beside herself with confusion and frustration. At times she blesses and helps Raskolnikov care for her husband, at other times she berates the drunken man. Katrina also sends Polenka to fetch Sonia.

Marmeladov has a lucid moment and asks for a priest. He notices his youngest child Lida who is barefoot and naked. He bemoans the ragged state of the child.

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