In the past two parts of Crime and Punishment many seemingly unimportant characters that were briefly mentioned in the beginning of the novel reappear in Raskolnikov’s closet. This cycle begins early on in the novel with the arrival of Luzhin, but unlike later characters Luzhin entrance is somewhat expected; Raskolnikov knows that Luzhin is in Saint Petersburg and thus its is not outstanding that he seeks out Raskolnikov. What struck me as most unexpected is the arrival of Svidrigailov at the end of part three. Yes, Svidrigailov was mentioned in the mother’s letter but I would have hardly guessed that he would come to play such a key role. Honestly when he showed up I had no clue who he was and had to flip back to the letter. This reemergence parallels Pushkin’s The Captain’s Daughter when Pytor by chance runs into all of his former acquaintances again.
What seems even more unlikely to me is that, of all of the places in Saint Petersburg, Svidrigailov happens to rent the room adjacent to Sonya’s. Regarding Svidrigailov, one thing that I found interesting is that narrator informs the reader not only that Svidrigailov lives next door to Sonya but also that he eavesdrops on Sonya’s conversations. When Raskolinkov visits Sonya for the first time the narrator notes “Sonya had long been used to considering this room uninhabited. And meanwhile, all that time, Mr. Svidrigailov had been standing by the door in the empty room and stealthily listening” (330). The narrator for a brief period of time becomes omniscient and enlightens the reader with knowledge that Raskolnikov himself does not know. It is only after the ruckus of the memorial meal and street scene when Raskolnikov realizes this eavesdropping.
In my opinion, Dostoevsky toys with the idea of fate and chance to the extreme. In some sense this realistic story seems mythic. The more coincidences occur, the more I am reminded that this book is fiction.