[by Phillip Coates]
As opposed to reviewing what we have read thus far, this week started from the end and we worked our way backwards. One of the first questions we had was, what was the purpose of the epilogue? Throughout the later-added ending the tone alters, the writing style shifts, and the message most of us had assumed is superimposed with an even larger message. Our guide Lucas Bernhardt mentioned that the most written and discussed part of this novel would have to be the epilogue, and we can see why that might be. Without giving away the ending entirely, we couldn’t help but wonder if this could be considered the last big idea of Crime and Punishment. The epilogue is the only way for the lead protagonist and all those supporting characters around him to have their lives tied up nicely in a bow.
Something I am grateful for in taking this delve adventure was how my opinion on the fate of the character Svidrigailov changed throughout our discussion. Going into our final night I found his development misused and his misfortune abrupt. However it was through our group that I realized Svidrigailov story is contentious because his character from start to finish was shrouded in mystery. His ending also very much mirrors Raskolnikov’s beginning. His feeling of being trapped, his fears and desires for Dunya, and the very delirium to which he inhabits shortly suggest a deeper level and shading to his character. One might even argue his character is the most complex to decipher of the whole novel. As opposed to Svidrigailov becoming more and more important to the story as it progressed, Luzhin seemingly dwindled away. The truth is, however, that Luzhin beyond the other lead characters had a life to lead outside the lives of the Romanovich clan. He would leave their company and continue with his life. Yes, he had some setbacks, but he was the only one with the mental capacity and the fortune to recover. Like the readers of this book, we go on.