Crime And Punishment

Many great literary works emerge from a writer\'s experiences. Through The

Crucible, Arthur Miller unleashes his fears and disdain towards the wrongful
accusations of McCarthyism. Not only does Ernest Hemmingway present the horrors
he witnessed in World War I in his novel, A Fair Well to Arms, he also addresses
his disillusionment of war and that of the expatriates. Another writer who
brings his experiences into the pages of a book is Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Faced
with adversity and chronic financial problems, he lived as a struggling writer
in St. Petersburg, a city stricken with poverty. Dostoyevsky\'s novel, Crime and

Punishment, ingeniously illustrates the blatant destitution that plagued the
city of St. Petersburg in nineteenth century. Throughout Crime and Punishment,

Dostoyevsky reveals how this destitution victimizes two main female characters,

Sofia Semionovna Marmeladov and Avdotya Romanovna Raskolnikov. In a poverty
stricken St. Petersburg, many drunkards scourge the local taverns to satiate
their desolation. One such out-of-work government clerk, Zakharych Semyon

Marmeladov, lingers in the taverns relinquishing every penny to alcohol.

Marmeladov\'s inability to maintain a job causes his family to live as indigents.

The lack of money essentially leaves Sofia Semionovna, the daughter of

Marmeladov, in a vulnerable position. Although Sonia is an "honorable girl
. . .[she] has no special talents" (Crime and Punishment, Fyodor

Dostoyevsky [New York: Penguin Group, 1968] 27). With no steady income flowing
into the family\'s pockets, Sonia\'s three younger stepsiblings cry of hunger. In
response to the cries, Katherine Ivanovna, Sonia\'s stepmother, introduces the
idea of harlotry to Sonia. Consequently, Sonia "puts on her cape and
kerchief and leaves the apartment" (28). As she re-enters later, she "walk[s]
straight up to Katherine Ivanovna, and quietly put[s] thirty rubles on the
table" (28). In order to quiet "the weeping of [the] hungry
children," Sonia turns to a life of prostitution as a means of supporting
her family (28). After tainting her body, "she [does] not utter a word[;]
she [does] not even look" (28). "She [hides] her head and face in [a
wool shawl] and [lies] down on the bed with her face to the wall" (28).

Poverty leads her to corrupt her innocence and victimizes her by stripping her
of her "treasure" (28). Not only does poverty rob Sonia of her purity,
it also robs her of her family when she has to "register as a prostitute
and carry the yellow ticket" (28). Since she carries the yellow ticket, the

Marmeladovs\' landlady no longer permits her to live in the building, and Sonia,
ultimately, resides in an apartment which she shares with "the poorest kind
of people" (29). Her marker restricts her from visiting her family at any
given time, and "it\'s mostly after dark . . . Sonia comes to [them]"
(29). Even though Mr. Lebeziatnikov, a tenant in the Marmeladovs\' apartment
building, attempts to "get at Sonia himself," he later reproaches
himself and asks, "How can a man as enlightened as myself live in the same
rooms with the likes of that?" (29). In the same likeness, Peter Petrovich

Luzhin, a corporate lawyer, indulges Sonia with lectures of hand kisses and the

French workers\' associations and proclaims that he "like[s] the girl a lot
. . . [and] no one [treats] her more politely and considerably than [he does],
or [has] greater respect for her dignity" (360), yet, he accuses her later
at her father\'s funeral feast of stealing "a government-accredited band
note of the value of one hundred rubles" (381). He even boldly states
"that a man of [his] experience would not have taken the risk of accusing
[Sonia] so directly if [he] were not quite convinced" of her guilt (381).

Although Luzhin declares that "it was poverty that drove Sofia Semionovna
to this," Katherine Ivanovna laments on Sonia\'s behalf and begins
explaining how "she [only] took a yellow ticket because the children were
wasting away from hunger-she sold herself for us" (385). Only when Andrey

Semionovich Lebeziatnikov, Luzhin\'s roommate, defends Sonia do her cries hold
any credence over that of the experienced man. Though Sonia becomes a prostitute
to support her family, the stigma attached to the profession still clings to
her, and she is shunned despite her noble intentions. Similarly, Avdotya

Romanovna Raskolnikov, Rodion Romanovna Raskolnikov\'s sister, also faces
victimization on account of her penury. Dunia, another woman in Crime and

Punishment who is trying to provide for her family, accepts a job in the

Svidrigailov household. With one hundred rubles as an advance on her salary,

Dunia intends on sending sixty to her brother Rodion. In time, Mr. Svidrigailov
advances on Dunia with a faзade