AP English students analyze Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment”

Throughout the month of October, Mrs. Sutherlin’s AP English Literature and Composition class took on the task of reading and analyzing Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. The novel is a Russian story that features mental anguish and moral dilemmas. The story includes the murder of pawnbroker by the main character, Rodion Raskolnikov, and his pursuit to find purpose in his life. Crime and Punishment was originally published in 1866 and continues to be read and studied by high school students all across the globe.

At St. Patrick in Mrs. Sutherlin’s class, students not only read the novel, but also analyzed the work for literary devices, ethical challenges for humanity, and the psychological warfare of the protagonist. After fully reading and analyzing Crime and Punishment, students participated in group projects in order to take their independent analyzing to the next level. Students had the opportunity to analyze and share multiple aspects and perspectives of the novel. Students were given the option to discuss Crime and Punishment’s themes, the function of dreams, psychology, characterization, tone/mood, setting, and motifs/symbols. Students created posters that creatively represented one of these topics and their role in the novel. Recently, students presented these posters to the classes for the purpose of academic discussion to further explore the novel.

One of the featured projects was created by senior student Hannah Wagner. In her poster, the main character was featured through sketching as a flat, one-dimensional character. Underneath the featured character’s hat, although, was a written analysis of his multi-dimensional characteristics. She explained, “I wanted to creatively expose the multi-dimensionality of Raskolnikov. Throughout the novel, the reader begins to discover the surprising features of his character. This is a direct parallel to my surprising features that expose his round characteristics in my poster.”

Mrs. Sutherlin’s AP English Literature and Composition class has eagerly moved on to their next challenge of reading and analyzing Their Eyes Were Watching God after a successful discussion and understanding of Crime and Punishment.

Story by Caroline Rinker