Literary Analysis Short Essay
The main character, Raskolnikov, receives majority of the attention about the development of his character throughout the book, however another interesting and complex characters that develops over time is, Raskolnikov’s sister, Dounia. Dounia is an extremely complex character who is portrayed as strong and can withstand criticism. Furthermore, throughout the book she is shown as a woman who cares about her family, specifically Raskolnikov, thus connecting to her reason of marrying her husband Pyotr the effects from her actions. Further on in the book she also develops into a woman who voices her opinion and stand up to defend herself when needed, thus making her character development very complex and transforming to a woman who decisive and premedative with her actions.
From the start of the book Dounia is portrayed as a strong women who easily withstand criticism and mistreatment from others. From the beginning of the book Raskolnikov received a letter from his mother about what has been going on at home since the last time they have contacted each other. His mother explains that Dounia has recently been accused by Marfa Petrovna of having an affair and how horribly she has been treated because of this false accusation. “Dounia, insulted and put to shame, had to drive with a peasant in an open cart all the seventeen verses into town… For a whole month the town was full of gossip about this scandal and it came to such a pass that Dounia and I dare not even go to church…but Dounia bore it better than I did, and if only you could see how she endured it all.” (Dostoyevsky 27-28) Dounia had endured such harsh treatment throughout the whole time when being accused as a ‘homewrecker’. Such as her mother stated, Dounia was able to handle the criticism and shame brought upon her family and herself. Therefore, it shows Dounia as a character is strong and knows the truth about herself and cannot deviate away from that. While being the strong women she is, Dounia makes tough choices such as marrying a man in order to help out her family.
Dounia then develops on as a character by taking the unwanted task of marrying a man in order to help Raskolnikov. Referred to throughout the book, Raskolnikov is a student who had to discontinue school do to financial issues. While his family knew that he faced these issues, Dounia and their mother took it upon themselves to take action and help support Raskolnikov get back into school. They then told Raskolnikov of their actions in the letter sent to him. “So, Rodya dear, he may be the greatest use to you, in every way indeed, and Dounia and I have agreed that from this very day you could definitely enter upon your career and might consider that you future is marked out and assured for you.” (Dostoyevsky 30) The book portrays Dounia to make an unwanted decision only to help her brother’s financial issues and continue to further himself in life. Thus portraying that she will have to make a lot of sacrifices in life, such as her reasoning for a being a wife. Pyotr then explains the reason why he wants to marry a women like Dounia. “He had made up his mind to marry a girl of good reputation, without dowry and, above all, one who had experienced poverty, because, as he explained, a man ought not be indebted to his wife, but that it is better for a wife to look upon her husband as a benefactor.” (Dostoyevsky 30) Although Pyotr’s thought process of marrying Dounia because of her socioeconomic status seems quite ridiculous; Dounia understand the reason of why she is going through the challenges with this marriage. While she gives up a lot of her morals as a strong women to transform into a dependent wife, comes of great motive only to help out Raskolnikov financially and her own issues. Thus showing her development as a character to become complex when giving up her morals and trying to mold into a specific women that Pyotr wants. While she must fit the ideal wife, she internally still remembers the women she truly is and sometimes express her true persona as a strong outspoken women.
Various times throughout the book, Dounia shows multiple transformations of character depending on her surroundings, such as expressing her true persona as strong and outspoken women to Raskolnikov about being the wife of Pytor. In the text, Raskolnikov has become extremely ill, and during this time his sister and mother have arrived to check on his health. During their stay Raskolnikov has a conversation with Dounia about her illegitimate reasoning for marrying a man like Pyotr. However, she doesn't easily comply with Raskolnikov's reasoning, but gives a strong remark. She state that she is not marrying Pyotr only because of Raskolnikov but because of her own issues. “In all this there is a mistake on your part. I thought it over last night, and found out the mistake. It is all because you seem to fancy I am sacrificing myself to someone and for someone. That is not the case at all. I am simplifying marrying for my own sake, because things are hard for me. Though, of course, I shall be glad if I succeed in being useful to my family….” (Dostoyevsky 184) Dounia finally shows her fierce persona and clearly explains her true reasonings for why she is making sacrifices for marrying Pytor. Although she cares deeply for Raskolnikov, her main focus was always on herself even though she may have to hide who she is at times. Throughout the book, it has portrayed Dounia only to make her actions do to family, however their was a deeper reasoning which was to financially set her life in the future. Therefore making Dounia an extremely complex character who transitions at times from her true self to the ideal wife, while she was wrongly portrayed to be family driven at all times, instead of mainly benefiting herself.