ABriefOverviewofCrimeandPunishmentbyFyodorDostoevsky

Posted on November 30, 2006, in Uncategorized, with 0 Comments

The following is a brief synopsis of the plot introduction and plot summary for Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Spoiler note: plot and/or ending details follow. ;-)

  1. Pride and Prejudice, first published on 28 January 1813, is the most famous of Jane Austen's novels.
  2. The story addresses courtship and marriage among the landed gentry in the early 19th century.
  3. The main character is Elizabeth Bennet, a beautiful 20-year-old woman in possession of a quick mind and a quicker tongue.
  4. Elizabeth's beloved eldest sister, Jane, is gentler and more attractive.
  5. Mr. Bennet is an eccentric who spends much of his time hiding in his study, a refuge from his bothersome wife, and the rest of his time making humorously disparaging remarks about his family.
  6. Another sister, Mary, is a dowdy moraliser in love with books, while the others, Kitty and Lydia, are reckless teenage flirts attracted to any attentive man especially if in uniform.
  7. Meanwhile, the querulous, gauche Mrs. Bennet is desperately determined to secure good matches for her five daughters, while trying to keep control of her "nerves".
  8. The Bennet family's modest estate in Hertfordshire is entailed in default of heirs male—which means a cousin, Mr. Collins, will inherit the estate on Mr. Bennet's death, leaving
  9. Mrs. Bennet and any unmarried daughters homeless and left to live on a very small and insufficient income.
  10. The beginning of the novel describes Mrs. Bennet's excitement over the arrival of a single man "of considerable fortune" in the neighbourhood.
  11. Mr. Bingley has leased the estate of Netherfield to live in with his single sister Miss Bingley and his married sister, Mrs. Hurst, whose husband is more fashionable than wealthy.
  12. After a short period, Mr. Bingley goes on a short trip to London and returns with his friend, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.
  13. Soon afterwards, Bingley and his party attend a public ball in the village of Meryton, which is thought to be based on the real life town of Hertford.
  14. At first, Darcy is admired for his fine figure and a rumoured income of £10,000 a year.
  15. Quickly, however, the neighbours come to perceive him as a most disagreeable sort, one who believes those present to be beneath him socially.
  16. This is brought home to the Bennet family when Darcy slights Elizabeth—when Bingley suggests that Darcy dance with Elizabeth, he notes that "she is not handsome enough to tempt me" within her hearing.
  17. Bingley, on the other hand, proves highly agreeable, dancing with many of the single ladies in attendance and showing his decided admiration for Jane Bennet.
  18. Shortly after the ball, Mr. Bennet announces to the family that a visitor is expected.
  19. Mrs. Bennet and the girls amuse themselves guessing whom it could be, but are disappointed to find out it is only their cousin, Mr. Collins, a pompous buffoon of a clergyman whose idea of a pleasant evening is reading to his female cousins from Fordyce's Sermons.
  20. Collins delights in dropping the name of his great patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, at every opportunity.
  21. Following Lady Catherine's imperious suggestion that he get married, Collins immediately looks to his "poor cousins" to find a wife and make amends for his role in the frequently anticipated impoverishment of the Bennets.
  22. Collins initially chooses the eldest and most comely daughter Jane, second only to Elizabeth in intelligence.
  23. Upon being informed that she is "practically engaged" to Mr. Bingley, Mr. Collins easily transfers his unwanted attentions to the lovely Elizabeth. Mrs. Bennet greatly approves of the match and tries to browbeat Elizabeth into marriage.
  24. However, Mr. Bennet supports his favourite daughter's repeated refusals in his own idiosyncratic, humorous way, telling her "Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do."
  25. Meanwhile, Elizabeth begins falling for a recently arrived militia officer, Mr. Wickham, who claims to have been robbed of his rightful inheritance by none other than Mr. Darcy, strengthening her disapprobation of the latter.
  26. Finally accepting Elizabeth's rejection, Mr. Collins next turns to her best friend, Charlotte Lucas. She readily accepts and they are soon married—to Mrs. Bennet's and Elizabeth's profound dismay, though for entirely different reasons.
  27. Mrs. Bennet hates the idea that Charlotte will someday supplant her as mistress of Longbourn, the Bennet estate; Elizabeth, on the other hand, is mortified that her best friend would marry merely for economic security.
  28. Soon after this blow, Mrs. Bennet is further discouraged by the sudden departure of Bingley.
  29. Jane is heartbroken and Mrs. Bennet's disparaging remarks about Bingley serve only to heighten her sorrow.
  30. Elizabeth is invited to visit the newlyweds. While she is staying with them, Darcy visits his aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, at her adjoining estate, Rosings. Elizabeth and Darcy are perforce thrown daily into each other's company.
  31. Elizabeth's charms eventually entrance Mr. Darcy, leading him to finally declare his love for her "against his own will" and his desire to marry her, in spite of her objectionable family.
  32. Elizabeth is appalled (especially since she has recently learned that Darcy dissuaded Bingley from proposing to Jane) and informs Darcy "he is the last man on earth [she] would ever desire to marry."
  33. The morning after, Darcy intercepts Elizabeth on her daily walk and hands her a letter before coldly taking his leave. In the letter, Darcy justifies his actions.
  34. He notes that, apart from her embarrassing relations, Darcy did not believe Jane a suitable match for Bingley because of her own seeming indifference to Bingley. (Elizabeth admits to herself that Jane's reserved character does indeed make it difficult for others to ascertain her true feelings.)
  35. Darcy also reveals Wickham's true character as a womanising cad and opportunist.
  36. This throws all of Darcy's past actions in a new light for Elizabeth and gradually her prejudices against him are broken down.
  37. Later, while on holiday with her aunt and uncle, the Gardiners, she is persuaded to visit nearby Pemberley, Darcy's estate, though only agreeing after discreetly finding out that the owner is away and not expected back anytime soon.
  38. While on a tour of the grounds, she is therefore mortified when she bumps into him unexpectedly.
  39. However, his altered behaviour towards her, distinctly warmer from their last meeting, begins to persuade her that underneath his pride lies a true and generous nature.
  40. Just as her relationship with Darcy starts to thaw, Elizabeth is horrified by news that her headstrong younger sister Lydia has run away with Wickham.
  41. In Elizabeth's absence, sixteen-year-old Lydia attracted Wickham's attentions and she ran away with him.
  42. When the family investigates, it is learned that Wickham resigned his commission to evade gambling debts.
  43. When told of this by Elizabeth, Darcy takes it upon himself to find Wickham and bribe him into marrying Lydia, but keeps this secret from Elizabeth and her family.
  44. Elizabeth accidentally learns of Darcy's involvement from Lydia's careless remarks, later confirmed by Mrs. Gardiner.
  45. This final act completes a reversal in Elizabeth's sentiments.
  46. A complication arises when Lady Catherine discovers Darcy's feelings, threatening her long cherished ambition for him to marry her own daughter.
  47. She pays Elizabeth an unannounced visit and brusquely tries to bully her into giving him up, a fruitless undertaking.
  48. When Lady Catherine complains to Darcy about Elizabeth's obstinacy, he realizes her feelings have changed, giving him hope to try again.
  49. He confesses to Bingley that he was mistaken about Jane's indifference to him, and after an awkward reconciliation, Bingley and Jane become engaged.
  50. Then, when Darcy proposes a second time to Elizabeth, she opens her heart to him and both his pride and her prejudices are forgotten.

ABriefOverviewofCrimeandPunishmentbyFyodorDostoevsky

Posted on November 30, 2006, in Uncategorized, with 0 Comments

The following is a brief synopsis and plot summary for Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Spoiler note: plot and/or ending details follow. ;-)

  1. Crime and Punishment focuses on Raskolnikov, an impoverished student who formulates a plan to kill and rob a hated pawnbroker, thereby solving his money problems and at the same time ridding the world of her evil.
  2. Exhibiting some symptoms of megalomania, Raskolnikov thinks himself a gifted man, similar to Napoleon.
  3. As an extraordinary man, he feels justified in his decision to murder, since he exists outside the moral constraints that affect "ordinary" people.
  4. However, immediately after the crime, Raskolnikov becomes ill, and is troubled by the memory of his actions.
  5. Crime and Punishment portrays Raskolnikov's gradual realization of his crime and his growing desire to confess.
  6. Moreover, Raskolnikov's attempts to protect his sister Dunia from unappealing suitors, and also his unexpected love for a destitute prostitute demonstrate Raskolnikov's longing for redemption.
  7. The novel portrays the murder of a miserly, aged pawnbroker and her younger sister by a destitute Saint Petersburg student named Raskolnikov, and the emotional, mental, and physical effects that follow.
  8. After falling ill with fever and lying bedridden for days, Raskolnikov is overcome with paranoia and begins to imagine that everyone he meets suspects him of the murder; the knowledge of his crime eventually drives him mad.
  9. In particular he is pursued by a police inspector about the crime and his role is eventually uncovered.
  10. However, he falls in love with the prostitute Sonya along the way.
  11. Dostoevsky uses this relationship as an allegory of God's love for fallen humanity—and the redemptive power of that love—but only after Raskolnikov has confessed to the murder and been sent to imprisonment in Siberia.
  12. Apart from Raskolnikov's fate, the novel, with its long and diverse list of characters, deals with themes including charity, family life, atheism, alcoholism, and revolutionary activity, with Dostoevsky highly critical of contemporary Russian society.
  13. Although Dostoevsky rejected socialism, the novel also appears to be critical of the capitalism that was making its way into Russian society at that time.
  14. Raskolnikov believed that he was a "super-human," that he could justifiably perform what society considered a despicable act—the killing of the pawn broker—if it led to his being able to do more good through the act.
  15. Throughout the book there are examples: he mentions Napoleon many times, thinking that for all the blood he spilled, he did good.
  16. Raskolnikov believed that he could transcend this moral boundary by killing the money lender, gaining her money, and using it to do good.
  17. He argued that had Isaac Newton or Johannes Kepler had to kill one or even a hundred men in order to enlighten humanity with their laws and ideas, it would be worth it.
  18. Thus he is thrown into a moral existential confusion over the death of the pawnbroker's sister. Never at any time in the novel is he repentant over the death of the pawnbroker.
  19. Raskolnikov's real punishment is not the labour camp he is condemned to, but the torment he endures throughout the novel.
  20. This torment manifests itself in the aforementioned paranoia, as well as his progressive realisation that he is not a "super-human", as he could not cope with what he had done.
  21. His confession to the prostitute, turning himself in is the means to end his suffering.

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