Sonia Marmelodov as the Personification of Suffering

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Often, in the course of studying a novel, the reader comes to realize

that much of the author himself is present in the work. His or her ideas,

morals, beliefs, and traits are molded to fit the forms of characters. In

Fydor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, these ideas took human form,

and can be described as "an idea always having a skin around it, a human

personality." Dostoyevsky's character, Sofia (Sonia) Marmelodov, is a true

example of this. Sonia represented the human propensity for suffering, and the

ability of one to remain pure while being surrounded by filth and degradation.

She truly showed how strong and great the human spirit can ultimately be.

Throughout tremendous poverty, separation and ultimately the death of her

family, Sonia was able to overcome adversity, with her faith in God and herself

still intact. All of these ideas in addition to other character attributes grew

together and resulted in the creation of the literary life of Sonia Marmelodov.

Sonia Marmelodov was first introduced to Rodia Raskolnikov, the

protagonist of the novel, by her father, Semion Marmelodov, after the two men

had met in a bar. Semion believed that Rodia would immediately recognize the

magnanimity of Sonia's personality, and felt that they would get along well.

Sonia had given herself up to the streets, and was now living by the "yellow

ticket" so her family could have a steady sense of income. Her family meant the

world to her, and she would do anything to support them. She gave her last

rubles to her alcoholic father so that he could buy a flask of alcohol (instead of

buying food for his starving family, or getting a decent set of clothing so he

could get a job), she gave her brand new dress collars to her stepmother who

has no use for them at all, and was an unshakable foundation for Raskolnikov

through his problematic road to redemption. Sonia never asked for an

explanation or a reason as to why she should offer herself and her possessions

up so readily; knowing that someone was in need of them was enough. Sonia

kept herself above the filth that surrounded her by helping others and never

asking a favor in return. The idea of placing others before ones self is truly

dominant in the character of Sonia Marmelodov, and Dostoyevsky himself made

it a priority to stress this. Sonia functioned as a foil to Raskolnikov; she

complemented his imperfections so that they fit together extremely well. Where

he was self-indulgent, her selflessness was exceedingly obvious.

An act of supreme suffering that directly correlated to this was Sonia's

forced separation from her family. Sonia wanted nothing more than to be

surrounded by the family that adored her and called her, "their salvation."

Raskolnikov wanted nothing more than to get away from his family, who were

worried about his well being and safety. Since she made her living by selling

herself, she was not allowed to be in close contact with those of "acceptable

stature." Instead, Sonia lived in true squalor, in the smallest room of the filthy

house of a man who stuttered. The only contact she had with her family was

through stealthy night visits where she had to disguise her appearance and

remain quiet, so no one would report her family, and get them thrown out of

their apartment.

Upon entrance to her home, Raskolnikov, was aghast at the terrible state

that this frail beauty resided in. This supreme sacrifice of her free will shows

that Sonia is ready and willing to suffer, and accept the burden that was placed

on her slim shoulders. She believed that if she was good and did not complain,

God would be exceedingly generous to her in the afterlife. This was the rope

that Sonia clung too, the only thing that was able to help her through the awful

days and the...
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