Summary and Analysis
Part 4: Chapter 2
On their way to the meeting with Luzhin, Rodya explains who Svidrigailov is and says: "I don't know why, but I am very afraid of that man." He hopes Razumihkin will help him guard Dunya from Svidrigailov, and, of course, Razumihkin agrees.
They meet Luzhin outside the apartment, and at the meeting, Luzhin relates some additional stories about Svidrigailov. They include one about his supposed seduction of a 15-year-old deaf and dumb girl who later hanged herself. Another is about Svidrigailov's servant Philip who hanged himself as a result of Svidrigailov's beatings and mockery. Luzhin concludes that Svidrigailov is the most horrible, "the most depraved, the most completely abandoned to vice" of anyone he knows. Dunya's view of each episode differs; for example, she heard that the servant Philip was addicted to drugs and that the other servants were good and loyal to Svidrigailov. Luzhin is offended that his "fiancée" seemingly defends Svidrigailov. Raskolnikov reveals that Marfa Petrovna has left Dunya 3,000 rubles, which she should receive soon.
When Rodya refuses to tell about his interview with Svidrigailov, Luzhin takes it as a personal affront and pretends he has to go. When Luzhin is confronted with the lies he wrote concerning Marmeladov's death, and Sonya's position, he is trapped and resorts to innuendo about Rodya's behavior. As the argument intensifies, Luzhin becomes more horrible and insulting until finally he insults Dunya by saying he accepted her in spite of all the unpleasant rumors about her reputation. At this, Rodya laughs, Pulcheria Alexandrovna is furious, Dunya calls him a "base, malicious person," and Razumihkin threatens him physically; Dunya then orders him to go. Even as he leaves, he is conceiving of a way to disparage Rodya and Sonya.
The chapter presents the irony of the despicable, malicious Luzhin describing the depraved sensualist, Svidrigailov, in derogatory terms. It is questionable whether Svidrigailov is guilty of all these things, and when Dunya corrects him on a couple of matters, he perceives that she is defending him. It could not be further from the truth; Dunya is merely looking at the situation dispassionately and would be fair to anyone, even Svidrigailov whom she fears and detests. However, the prevailing stories of his rape of the blind and dumb girl and his involvement in the death of the servant does contribute to his depiction as the complete amoral sensualist.
Luzhin's nastiness comes when he reminds Dunya of his noble "resolve to take her in spite of evil rumors about her," and even though he is completely convinced that the stories are wrong, he taunts her with the rumors. Luzhin's total horror comes later when he so desperately tries to frame the innocent Sonya so as to prove himself superior to Raskolnikov.