Rodion Raskolnikov

Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov (pre-reform Russian: Родіонъ Романович Раскольниковъ; post-reform Russian: Родион Романович Раскольников, tr. Rodión Románovich Raskólʹnikov, IPA: [rədʲɪˈon rɐˈmanəvʲɪtɕ rɐˈskolʲnʲɪkəf]) is the fictional protagonist of Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. The name Raskolnikov derives from the Russian raskolnik meaning "schismatic" (traditionally referring to a member of the Old Believer movement). The name "Rodion" comes from Greek and indicates an inhabitant of Rhodes.

Rodion Raskolnikov

Raskolnikov is a young ex-law student living in extreme poverty in Saint Petersburg. He lives in a tiny garret which he rents, although due to a lack of funds has been avoiding payment for quite some time. He sleeps on a couch using old clothes as a pillow, and due to lack of money eats very rarely. He is handsome and intelligent, though generally disliked by fellow students. He is devoted to his sister (Avdotya Romanovna Raskolnikova) and his mother (Pulkheria Alexandrovna Raskolnikova).


A poor student with a conflicted idea of himself, Raskolnikov (Rodya as his mother calls him) decides to kill a corrupt pawnbroker, Alyona Ivanovna, with whom he has been dealing, with the idea of using the money to start his life all over, and to help those who are in need of it. It is later revealed that he also commits the murder as justification for his pride, as he wants to prove that he is "exceptional" in the way Napoleon was. He commits the murder, but is so nervous during the crime that he makes a few mistakes, and is afraid that he will be caught.

Raskolnikov finds a small purse on Alyona Ivanovna's body, which he hides under a rock without checking its contents. His grand failure is that he lacks the conviction of his beliefs to accomplish greatness, and thus declines into madness. After he confesses to the destitute, pious prostitute Sofya Semyonovna Marmeladova, she guides him towards admitting to the crime, and he confesses to Porfiry Petrovich, a prosecutor with a keen psychological sense (the book implies the policeman suspected him from the start). Raskolnikov is sentenced to exile in Siberia, accompanied by Sofya Semyonovna, where he experiences a mental and spiritual rebirth.


In film, Raskolnikov was portrayed for the first time by Gregori Chmara in the silent adaptation Raskolnikov, directed by Robert Wiene (1923). He was portrayed by Peter Lorre in Josef von Sternberg's Hollywood film version (1935), by John Hurt in a 1979 BBC mini-series adaptation, by Patrick Dempsey in a 1998 television movie, and by John Simm (2002), Crispin Glover (2002) and Ilya Kremnov (2005). The character of Michel in Robert Bresson's Pickpocket (1959) is based on Raskolnikov. Paul Schrader, who wrote Taxi Driver (1976), was in turn inspired by Bresson's Michel character to create Travis Bickle, Robert De Niro's antihero.[1] Woody Allen's 2015 drama-thriller Irrational Man was also inspired by Crime and Punishment, with protagonist Abe Lucas (Joaquin Phoenix) as its Raskolnikov character.[2]

See also


  1. Johnston, Sheila (22 April 2018). "Film-makers on film: Paul Schrader". The Telegraph. London, England: Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  2. Diamond, Stephen A. (August 17, 2015). ""Irrational Man" Review: Woody Allen's Existentialism 101". Psychology Today. New York City: Sussex Publishers. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
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