As we are now done with Crime and Punishment, I feel like now is as good a time as any to reflect on the title. I, for one, am a bit curious as to why Doestoevsky would title his novel in such a way. We've had points in the course so far where we've questioned titles (e.g., The Captain's Daughter, A Hero of Our Time), yet I'm surprised that none of us did so about this novel in large-group discussion.
On one hand, this novel is most certainly centered around one man's murders and the events that ensued afterwards, ultimately leading up to his confession at the end and his punishment in Siberia in the epilogue. However, the “punishment” in and of itself is only in the epilogue, a part that we discussed was added on a year after the novel was released. So in it's original form, the novel really didn't have a punishment if we think about it in that way.
However, I would like to pose the idea that the punishment was actually the internal, psychological suffering that Raskolnikov seemingly went through for the entire novel. The crime itself, while central to the novel, occurred early on, so we really have the bulk of the novel left to give a theme to, and I think that “punishment” is an excellent label for that theme. Through his paranoia and unhealthy mental state, we see a very psychologically fragile mind that seems to get taxed more and more with each encounter, whether the person has reason to suspect him of murder or not. This punishment manifests itself in practically every aspect of Raskolnikov's life, severely affecting his functionality as a person and seriously straining his social relationships.
Is the anguish and torment that Raskolnikov went through due to his actions a true punishment, or is his Siberian labor the only punishment for him? Does his religious conversion at the end redeem him or atone for his crime? Or should the novel have a different title that better reflects its themes?