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Characterization: how the author presents the dramatis personae of his or her story.

Direct characterization is when the author tells you directly that the character is of a particular state of mind or in a specific condition. The author comes right out and writes that the character simply is.

Indirect characterization is when the author describes the character and lets you the reader draw your own conclusions. He or she can do this by describing

Looks of the character, e.g., clothing,  physical state
Effect the character has on other characters or situations
Actions that the character takes
Speech of the character or that which is directed to that character
Thoughts of the character if the POV is omnicient

Remember it with this word mnemonic: “Indirect characterization is when the author says the LEAST about a character.”

In addition are these considerations of the character:
Flat character is one in which the author presents few aspects to his or her personality. This may be because the character is simple, or because the character is a foil or plays a symbolic role.

Round character is fully developed, complex.

Static character does not grow or change through the course of the story.

Dynamic character grows or changes as a result of the complications and climaxes inherent in the story or situation.

Click to access Characterization.pdf

You can also look at this .pdf and see how the National Council of the Teachers of English straight joinked my intellect.

“STEAL” indeed.

Crime and Punishment: thinking through and questioning

Nature is what you find in the pristine world: dirt, soil, seeds that are neither sewn nor selectively bred, minerals, the workings of the animal realms.
Artifice is what man makes, whether that is tool or clothing or custom or law or idea.

Stopping at a red light and going on a green: nature or artifice? A hamburger: nature or artifice? Setting aside a hamburger for a loved one who will be an hour late, and not eating it although we are hungry: nature or artifice?

1.  Raskolnikov’s dream: think of the horse as nature and the people as artifice.
What part of nature or the natural world could the horse symbolize?
What part of man-made laws or ideas could the people represent?
Now that you’ve thought that through, flip it: what law or idea or custom could the horse represent?
What natures or instincts could the people symbolize?

2.  Raskolnikov, early on, thinks the amateurish criminal makes many mistakes, and that he – the superior intellect – won’t.  How does that work out for him?

3. How/why does Raskolnikov think he’s a superior intellect?  (You see how that question is answered as the story unfolds, yes?)

As you are realizing, much of what you thought was foreshadowing is being answered as you read: you can go back and answer, or even reformulate, your questions.

4.  Does Porfiry really suspect Raskolnikov? How R.’s thoughts run around and around trying to figure that out! When did you, the reader, become sure of that? Did you get the “I knew it!” feeling?

5. What is fever? How does it work physically and mentally? What causes it?
Raskolnikov spends considerable time in a feverish state: perhaps an hour reading up of fever might be illuminating?

A letter to Advanced Placement students…

…who have been assigned Crime And Punishment as a summer reading book:

The panic is setting in! Some folks are saying they don’t understand CaP.

Nah, seriously:

“College-level literature.” By that, they mean university-level literature. (What, did you think it would be, The Alchemist? HaaaahahhhhaaaaaaHAAAAA. Okay, let me compose myself.) Hence the exhortation to start now.

One chief reason that we recommend the Norton Critical Edition of the Coulson translation is because of the excellent essays that follow: you did notice that 1/3 of the pages are commentary and essay, no?

Read the story. Raskolnikov thinks he can do the murder — that he should do the murder — but when he’s done it, his thinking really falls apart. Human nature is being illuminated quite deeply in this rich story.

Are you seeing that? If you are, then you’re on the right track and you’re doing fine.  When you finish, read the commentary and essays. Things will click.

CaP is part of the canon. If the novel doesn’t show up on the free choice essay list, I will be a monkey’s uncle. (Even if it doesn’t, the question will say “or a work of equal literary merit,” and CaP is indeed that.) By taking your time with Dostoevsky, you are laying a firm foundation.

Take time and have faith.

“And there was much weeping…”