Selfless Love

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Mary Ann P. Calamba
January 29, 2010

Selfless Love

“For one she loves, for one she adores, she will sell herself! 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. 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, strikingly 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...
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