The old woman was a mistake perhaps, but she’s not the point! The old woman was merely a sickness . . . I was in a hurry to step over . . . it wasn’t a human being I killed, it was a principle! So I killed the principle, but I didn’t step over, I stayed on this side . . . All I managed to do was kill. And I didn’t even manage that, as it turns out . . .
This ranting comes from Part III, Chapter VI, when Raskolnikov is lying in bed thinking to himself. The language, with its abrupt phrases and frequent use of ellipses, reflects Raskolnikov’s fractured state of mind. It also shows that Raskolnikov is still trapped in a Napoleonic mindset—he believes that the only thing that matters is success in one’s endeavors. Raskolnikov feels anxious not because he is a murderer but because he is an unsuccessful murderer, unable to use the crime to his advantage and dismiss the guilt from his mind. His need to assure himself of the intellectualized motivations for Alyona Ivanovna’s murder (“it wasn’t a human being I killed, it was a principle!”) and his frantic, repetitive justification of his crime (“I stayed on this side”) reveal his insecurity about the whole matter and accentuate how unlike his “superman” ideal he is. This quote also foreshadows Raskolnikov’s stubborn protest to Dunya in Part VI, Chapter VII, that the murder itself was not wrong, only his failure to profit from it.