Crime and Punishment, novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, published in 1866 as Prestupleniye i nakazaniye. Dostoyevsky's first masterpiece, the novel is a psychological analysis of the poor student Raskolnikov, whose theory that humanitarian ends justify evil means leads him to murder. The act produces nightmarish guilt in Raskolnikov. The poverty-stricken Raskolnikov, a talented student, devises a theory about extraordinary men being above the law, since in their brilliance they think "new thoughts" and so contribute to society. He then sets out to prove his theory by murdering a vile, cynical old pawnbroker and her sister. The act brings Raskolnikov into contact with his own buried conscience and with two characters - the deeply religious Sonia, who has endured great suffering, and Porfiry, the intelligent and discerning official who is charged with investigating the murder - both of whom compel Raskolnikov to feel the split in his nature. Dostoevsky provides readers with a suspenseful, penetrating psychological analysis that goes beyond the crime - which in the course of the novel demands drastic punishment - to reveal something about the human condition: The more we intellectualize, the more imprisoned we become.