Fyodor Dostoevsky, like most authors, had a distinct way of conveying his message in his novel. In the case of Crime and Punishment Dostoevsky employs irregular plot pacing to develop the character of the protagonist, Raskolnikov, who undergoes quite a journey. Sounds like most books right? A man going through a journey and undergoing a transformation. The unique thing that has captivated many readers is a murder occurring in the early stages of the novel as opposed to being the climax towards the end of the novel. No, this novel focuses on what happens after the murder, an insight into a murderer’s mind. In order to accomplish this daunting task, Dostoevsky had to employ some special aspect to the structure of the novel. Thus, Crime and Punishment’s unique structure enhances the meaning and character development of the novel; specifically the irregular plot pacing and placement of the murder at the beginning of the novel allows the reader to further understand and even appreciate Raskolnikov’s attempt at redemption and the transformation he undergoes thanks to Sonya.
The plot pacing we are referring to in Crime and Punishment is the relative time (real time like years, days, weeks…etc.) it takes for events to take place compared to the amount of pages and at which speed Dostoevsky unfolds these aforementioned events. By examining the amount of pages and speed at which they unfold, the reader can discover the importance of certain events and what Dostoevsky is highlighting throughout the novel and eventually decipher what Dostoevsky wants the reader to take away from reading Crime and Punishment.
The method of irregular plot pacing is evident from the very beginning of the novel. We see the character of Raskolnikov before his transformation very early especially when “he was going [now] for a ‘rehearsal’ of his project, and at every step his excitement grew more and more violent” (12). Raskolnikov is a very cautious, paranoid, and isolated person at the beginning. This quote is simply a microcosm of his character which is further shown from pages 3-8 for a twenty minute, real-time, encounter. That is considered medium pacing and is effective at showing the elaborate thought Raskolnikov has placed on the murder to the point that he is doing a rehearsal for it. However during this planning period he is cynical and is going back and forth on his decision and “jeered at his own impotence and indecision” (11). This murder rehearsal could have been at a fast deliberate pace displaying a regular plot pace, but Dostoevsky chose to make it a medium pace to display the disruption and chaos of Raskolnikov state of mind that contributes to his Übermensch personality and the murder of Alyona Ivanovna and her sister. The audience is supposed to concentrate on this point to understand the events and his cover up so emphasis and a medium pace is employed, however the murder itself is quick with not much thought given.
Contrary to the plot pace of the murder...