Literary Discussion

Use of Foreshadowing in Creating Suspense


  • Foreshadowing: A literary device in which a writer gives an advance hint of what is to come later in the story

  • Suspense: A state or feeling of excited or anxious uncertainty about what may happen

Literary Criticism

The Slavic and East European Journal: Raskolnikov's Dreams
  • 5 dreams in total: 2 before/after the murder, and 1 in the epilogue.
  • Refers to dreams as "feverish dreams" as the Russian word "son" is used to describe the dreams as sick and morbid.
  • "Each instance of son or greza marks a failure..." (Shaw).
  • The first dream: The horse who is murdered in front of a young Raskolnikov and his father and provides very vivid imagery. The narration style makes it hard to ascertain his consciousness at the moment. Raskolnikov reacts to the dream as if it is a physical event that actually happens, and it makes him question whether or not he can pull off the murder.
  • The second dream is a daydream about the desert and water. It almost prevents him murdering the pawnbroker.
  • The third and fourth dreams also question Raskolnikov’s consciousness; it is difficult for both the reader and him to know that it is a dream until it actually ends.
  • The third dream consists of screams of the landlady being beaten.
  • The fourth dream is an attempt to kill the old lady again. It is presented as if it is real at first.
  • The last dream, placed in the epilogue, is referring to the end of the world. Raskolnikov is not a participant in this dream like he is in the others.

Quotes: Foreshadowing the Murder

  • “[Raskolnikov] was positively going now for a "rehearsal" of his project, and at every step his excitement grew more and more violent.” (Part 1 Chapter 1)
      • Violent project

  • "Kill her, take her money and with the help of it devote oneself to the service of humanity and the good of all. What do you think, would not one tiny crime be wiped out by thousands of good deeds?" (Part 1 Chapter 6)
  • “Raskolnikov had a fearful dream...’Get an axe, hell!...‘Fetch an axe to her! Finish her off,’

    • Young Boy = innocent/caring side

    • Mikolka = lack of emotion and very machine like

      • Mirrors with the quote : “He had not a minute more to lose. He pulled the axe quite out, swung it with both arms, scarcely conscious of himself, and almost without effort, almost mechanically, brought the blunt side down on her head. “ (Part 1 Chapter 7)

        • Takes out emotions which allows him to be more in control and machine-like

Quotes: Foreshadowing the Confession

    • “I’ll go in, fall on my knees, and confess everything…” (Part 2 Chapter 1)

    • “He had decided to go to the police station; soon, it would be over.” (Part 1 Chapter 6)

Quotes: Foreshadowing the Duality

  • “Raskolnik” = Split

    • “He has a noble nature and a kind heart. He does not like showing his feelings and would rather do a cruel thing than open his heart freely. Sometimes, though, he is not at all morbid, but simply cold and inhumanly callous; it’s as though he were alternating between two characters.” (Part 3 Chapter 2).

    • “two days”, “two months” “two gates” and “two courtyards” and “two crosses”

Discussion Questions

  • Questions

    • How does Dostoevsky achieve and sustain the suspense in his novel?

    • How does Dostoevsky use suspense to aide towards the progress of the climax?

    • What are some dualities of Raskolnikov that are highlighted by the foreshadowing of Dostoevsky?

    • Are there certain key events that Dostoevsky choose not to foreshadow and is that significance?
    • What are some events that are foreshadowed that are unrelated to Raskolnikov? And what is their importance?
    • Why did Dostoevsky use foreshadow versus flashback?


"Raskolnikov's Dreams Symbolizing Crime in Crime and Punishment." Raskolnikov's Dreams Symbolizing Crime in Crime and Punishment. Web. 6 Sept. 2015. <’s-dreams-symbolizing-crime-crime-and-punishment-0>.

Shaw, J. Thomas. "Raskol'nikov's Dreams." The Slavic and East European Journal 17.2 (1973): 131-45. JSTOR. American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages. Web. 6 Sept. 2015. <>.

Shmoop Editorial Team. "Rodion Romanovitch Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment." Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 5 Sept. 2015. <>.