A monologue from the novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky

  • NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Crime and Punishment. Trans. Constance Garnett. New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1917.
  • RAZUMIHIN: Listen to me, listen attentively. The porter and Koch and Pestryakov and the other porter and the wife of the first porter and the woman who was sitting in the porter’s lodge and the man Kryukov, who had just got out of a cab at that minute and went in at the entry with a lady on his arm, that is eight or ten witnesses, agree that Nikolay had Dmitri on the ground, was lying on him beating him, while Dmitri hung on to his hair, beating him, too. They lay right across the way, blocking the thoroughfare. They were sworn at on all sides while they "like children" (the very words of the witnesses), were falling over one another, squealing, fighting and laughing with the funniest faces and, chasing one another like children, they ran into the street. Now take careful note. The bodies upstairs were warm, you understand, warm when they had found them! If they, or Nikolay alone, had murdered them and broken open the boxes, or simply taken part in the robbery, allow me to ask you one question: do their state of mind, their squeals and giggles and childish scuffling at the gate fit in with axes, bloodshed, fiendish cunning, robbery? They’d just killed them, not five or ten minutes before, for the bodies were still warm, and at once, leaving the flat open, knowing that people would go there at once, flinging away their booty they rolled about like children, laughing and attracting general attention. And there are a dozen witnesses to swear to that! No, brother. And if the ear-rings’ being found in Nikolay’s hands at the very day and hour of the murder constitutes an important piece of circumstantial evidence against him—although the explanation given by him accounts for it—one must take into consideration the facts which prove him innocent, especially as they are facts that cannot be denied. And do you suppose, from the character of our legal system, that they will accept, or that they are in a position to accept, this fact—resting simply on a psychological impossibility—as irrefutable and conclusively breaking down the circumstantial evidence for the prosecution? No, they won’t accept it, they certainly won’t, because they found the jewel-case and the man tried to hang himself, "which he could not have done if he hadn’t felt guilty." That’s the point, that’s what excites me, you must understand! The real murderer dropped these ear-rings. The murderer was upstairs, looked in, when Koch and Pestryakov knocked at the door. Koch, like an ass, did not stay at the door; so the murderer popped out and ran down, too, for he had no other way of escape. He hid from Koch, Pestryakov and the porter in the flat when Nikolay and Dmitri had just run out of it. He stopped there while the porter and others were going upstairs, waited till they were out of hearing, and then went calmly downstairs at the very minute when Dmitri and Nikolay ran out into the street and there was no one in the entry; possibly he was seen, but not noticed. There are lots of people going in and out. He must have dropped the ear-rings out of his pocket when he stood behind the door, and did not notice he dropped them, because he had other things to think of. The jewel-case is a conclusive proof that he did stand there .... That’s how I explain it.