Rodion Raskolnikov

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Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov (Russian: Родиóн Ромáнович Раскóльников, IPA: [rəˈdʲɪˈon 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.

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 mean pawnbroker, Alyona Ivanovna, with whom he has dealing, with the idea of using the money to start his life all over. The murder is committed but he makes a couple of mistakes due to nervousness which end up costing his certainty that he could get away with the crime.

Raskolnikov finds a small purse on Alyona Ivanovna's body, which he hides under a rock outside without checking its contents. His grand failure is that he lacks the conviction he believed to accompany greatness and continues his decline into madness. After confessing to the destitute, pious prostitute Sofya Semyonovna Marmeladova, she guides him towards admitting to the crime, and he confesses to Ilya Petrovich, a police lieutenant with an explosive temper (the book implies the policeman suspected him from the start). Raskolnikov is sentenced to exile in Siberia, accompanied by Sofya Semyonovna, where he begins his mental and spiritual rehabilitation.


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 1979 in the BBC mini-series, by Patrick Dempsey (1998 television movie), and by John Simm (2002), Crispin Glover (2002) and Ilya Kremnov (2005).[citation needed] 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]

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