Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevski
Rodion Raskolnikov, an impoverished student in St. Petersburg, dreamed of committing the perfect crime: With an ax he murdered an old widowed pawnbroker and her stepsister, and stole some jewelry from their flat.
Back in his room, Raskolnikov received a summons from the police. Weak from hunger and illness, he prepared to make a full confession. But the police had called merely to ask him to pay a debt his landlady had reported to them. When he discovered what they wanted, he collapsed from relief. Upon being revived, he was questioned; his answers provoked suspicion.
Raskolnikov hid the jewelry under a rock in a courtyard. He returned to his room, where he remained for four days in a high fever. When he recovered, he learned that the authorities had visited him while he was delirious and that he had said things during his fever which tended to cast further suspicion on him.
Luzhin, betrothed to Raskolnikov's sister Dounia, came to St. Petersburg from the provinces to prepare for the wedding. Raskolnikov resented Luzhin because he knew his sister was marrying to provide money for her destitute brother. Luzhin visited the convalescent and left in a rage when the young man made no attempt to hide his dislike for him.
A sudden calm came upon the young murderer; he went out and read the accounts of the murders in the papers. While he was reading, a detective joined him. The student, in a high pitch of excitement caused by his crime and by his sickness, talked too much, revealing to the detective that he might well be the murderer. However, no evidence could be found that would throw direct suspicion on him.
Later, witnessing a suicide attempt in the slums of St. Petersburg, Raskolnikov decided to turn himself over to the police; but he was deterred when his friend, an ex-clerk named Marmeladov; was struck by a carriage and killed. Raskolnikov gave the widow a small amount of money he had received from his mother. Later he attended a party given by some of his friends and discovered that they, too, suspected him of complicity in the murder of the two women.
Back in his room, Raskolnikov found his mother and his sister, who were awaiting his return. Unnerved at their appearance and not wanting them to be near him, he placed them in the care of his friend, Razumihin, who, upon meeting Dounia, was immediately attracted to her.
In an interview with Porfiry, the chief of the murder investigation, Raskolnikov was mentally tortured by questions and ironic statements until he was ready to believe that he had been all but apprehended for the double crime. Partly in his own defense, he expounded his theory that any means justified the ends of a man of genius, and that sometimes he believed himself a man of genius.
Raskolnikov proved to his mother and Dounia that Luzhin was a pompous fool, and the angry suitor was dismissed. Razumihin had by that time replaced Luzhin in the girl's affections.
Meanwhile Svidrigailov, who had caused Dounia great suffering while she had been in his employ as a governess, arrived in St. Petersburg. His wife had died and he had followed Dounia, as he explained, to atone for his sins against her by settling upon her a large amount of money.
Razumihin received money from a rich uncle and went into the publishing business with Dounia. They asked Raskolnikov to join them in the venture, but the student, whose mind and heart were full of turmoil, declined; he said goodbye to his friend and to his mother and sister and asked them not to try to see him again.
He went to Sonia, the prostitute daughter of the dead Marmeladov. They read Sonia's Bible together, Raskolnikov deeply impressed by the wretched girl's faith. He felt a great sympathy for Sonia and promised to tell her who had committed the murders of the old pawnbroker and stepsister. Svidrigailov, who rented the room next to Sonia's, overheard the conversation ; he anticipated Raskolnikov's disclosure with interest.
Tortured in his own mind, Raskolnikov went to the police station, where Porfiry played another game of cat-and-mouse with him. His conscience and his imagined insecurity had resulted in immense suffering and torment of mind for Raskolnikov.
At a banquet given by Marmeladov's widow for the friends of her late husband, Luzhin accused Sonia of stealing money from his room. He had observed Raskolnikov's interet in Sonia and he wished to hurt the student for having spoken against him to Dounia. The girl was saved by the report of a neighbor who had seen Luzhin slipping money into Sonia's pocket. Later, in Sonia's room, Raskolnikov confessed his crime and admitted that in killing the two women he had actually destroyed himself.
Svidrigailov, having overheard the confession, disclosed his knowledge to Raskolnikov. Believing that Porfiry suspected him of the murder and realizing that Svidrigailov knew the truth, Raskolnikov found life unbearable. Then Porfiry told Raskolnikov outright that he was the murderer, at the same time promising Raskolnikov that a plea of temporary insanity would be placed in his behalf and his sentence would be mitigated if he confessed. Raskolnikov delayed his confession.
Svidrigailov, having informed Dounia of the truth concerning her brother, offered to save the student if Dounia would consent to be his wife. He made this offer to her in his room, which he had locked after tricking her into the meeting. He released her when she attempted unsuccessfully to shoot him with a pistol she had brought with her. Convinced at last that Dounia would have none of him, Svidrigailov gave her a large sum of money and ended his life with a pistol.
Raskolnikov, after being reassured by his mother and his sister of their love for him, and by Sonia of her undying devotion, turned himself over to the police. He was tried and sentenced to serve eight years in Siberia. Dounia and Razumihin, now successful publishers, were married. Sonia followed Raskolnikov to Siberia, where she stayed in a village near the prison camp. In her goodness to Raskolnikov and to the other prisoners, she came to be known as Little Mother Sonia. With her help, Raskolnikov began his regeneration. (来源：专业英语学习网站 http://www.EnglishCN.com)