While the events Dostoyevsky portrays seem to take place by chance, Raskolnikov seems to view them as the opposite of chance. They seem to be preplanned out, but not by himself. Events take place that are seemingly coincidence, but R. takes them as pointing to his destiny.
Are these occurrences used to initiate, to complicate, or to resolve the story?
All of the above! Instances of chance vs. destiny launch the story and continue to complicate and lead it on. I imagine it plays a key role in resolving the story also, but I have not gotten that far in my reading.
How improbable are they?
Some of the events that take place in R.’s life are quite probable and thus can be easily afforded to chance. But other events and actions seem more out of the ordinary and would be hard to be supplied simply by coincidence. It seems a bigger scheme, whether within or without R., is taking place.
How is suspense created in the story?
Mystery definitely plays a role in creating suspense for the reader. Since most of us already know the storyline, the use of mystery in the story does not create as much suspense in the reader.
Yet Dostoyevsky does skillfully create suspense for the reader by making R. constantly in a state of suspense. He is always confused or doing confusing things. The reader wonders why and is compelled to read on.
Is the interest confined to “What happens next?” or are larger concerns involved?
The desire to know “What happens next?” is a human desire and is often used by writers to keep their readers enthralled. How can the out the book down when they don’t know what will become of the character? What action he will take? Or what ramifications this will have? Dostoyevsky plays on this human desire to know “what happens next” well.
At the same time, I think we can see Dostoyevsky using larger overarching ideas to lead the reader on. For example, the question of whether R. is truly mad and not responsible for certain actions, or whether he simply is a distressing and distressed character.
Can you find examples of mystery?
One important element of mystery can be found throughout the beginning of the book as R. ponders “that”, but does not let the reader truly comprehend what “that” is until it is done.
Haha… isn’t Crime and Punishment a whole series of dilemmas? R. is constantly over dramatizing things and making every decision difficult. At times he painstakingly thinks through the options and at others he makes rash decisions.
~Questions from PHCPrep AP English Literature and Composition Course