Rodion Raskolnikov Character Study

Rodion Raskolnikov is the protagonist of Crime and Punishment. It is his crime and his punishment that we read about in the 500-page novel. The crime was the murder of a woman, and the punishment was the ideology that led him to kill the woman.

He believes that great people are above societal rules. If there is a way to achieve something great that involves breaking the law, he believes it is completely okay to break that law. It is responsibility of the person to break that law and achieve greatness.

Which Rodion does.

In my experience and observation, we have all broken rules to some extent to make our lives easier or for some purpose. But breaking a small rule is different from breaking a bigger rule. However, there are people who have broken major rules and still achieved success, leading the public to overlook their law-breaking.

This is because laws made by humans are mostly created by those in power and the majority. So when power shifts, so do the laws. Laws are changeable, so how can we definitively say what is a crime?

This is what Raskolnikov missed in his theory. He believed that laws made by humans are fixed, and by breaking them, he would show his worth. But other people who broke the law have, in fact, changed the law to some extent, so their actions no longer remain a crime.

The definition they changed.

Whoever, above the social law is the moral law and the restrictions imposed by conscience, which come naturally. We don’t read about whether these great people, like Napoleon, felt guilty or sad after doing what they did.

In front of the world, they changed their perception, but what about when they were alone?

Raskolnikov did not know that. He believed the media and whatever he read and seen. Then he experience what was not written and visible but might have been happened.

Though he believes he did the world a favor by murdering the woman, his conscience does not allow him to rejoice in this. That is what he dislikes the most. In the later part of the book, Raskolnikov does not feel guilty because he killed two women. He feels bad because he let his conscience win.

He did it because he was poor and believed that if he kills a person and steals some money, he can build a good career for himself and his family. The only obstacle is the woman, so he gets rid of her. But he fails to take the next action – stealing and using the money to build a good life. He kept believing that if he has not failed in building the good life, he would not have suffering. The world would forget his crime if he moved on to do good things.

He acknowledges his weakness and suffers for it. When he finds a girl who is also suffering for others, he wishes to run away with her.

But the suffering will never end with this. The girl understands it. When you break the laws made by society, you have to repent in front of society.

crime and punishment quote

If you steal from your father and use the money for gambling, winning a large amount of money, giving the money back to your father does not wash away your crime. Does it?

You have to confess what you did and suffer for it, as your father wished you to. This is what we see all around us. But people do not want that suffering, and they also don’t want the guilt. So they will tell the truth after the period of consequences has passed. If, by chance, you take that action, it will be blamed on you, with the expectation that you have to let go, as the person has confessed. Confession is a way for them to release their suffering and unload it onto you.

Like Raskolnikov did with Sonia. He was tired of roaming around with all this baggage on his shoulders, so he tells it to Sonia. Sonia tells him to go to the police and turn himself in, which is not what he wants. If Sonia had said they could go somewhere else and leave that place, his suffering would have ended there, but Sonia’s suffering would have begun.

Whether you agree with Raskolnikov’s theory or not is another case.

What is his crime in the book?

Is it murdering the woman? Or is it the belief that murdering the woman is right? Or is it failing to utilize the opportunity he created for himself after breaking the law?

The answer could be all or any of these. It depends on which part of the book you are at. The crime of the person keeps changing with the person’s suffering.

At first, Raskolnikov believes that murdering was the crime. But soon he realizes that it was not taking the money. But in the end, he finds that his entire theory was built on a flawed foundation.

You can break laws made by humans, but not the ones made by your conscience.

Albert Camus’ protagonist in The Stranger murders a man because he believes it really does not matter. He was detached and wanted to see if killing would make him feel something. It was out of frustration. Raskolnikov feels everything after the killing. He feels sick and loses consciousness for days.

In another book, The White Tiger, the protagonist kills his boss and steals the money to make a better life. The man suffers his entire life, and in the end, he has to tell someone to release his guilt. But whether it was the guilt that made him share his story or if he simply wanted to share his story is a different thing.

People live in horrendous conditions, as it is everyone’s right to live. You must not take anyone’s life, but what about state executions? Is there any crime big enough that civil society collectively takes the life of the person?

So much has been said about the story, and there is nothing new to add.

Would you do it?

But would you do it is the question.

If you get the opportunity to fulfill all your dreams and wishes,, and all you have to do it is murder a person. Not a good person, but a bad person.

Let’s say, if you kill the Hitler, you get everything you wish and dream for. Is then murder justify.

Because Ras saw the murders that way. All his dreams vs the woman.

Faizan Fahim

Hello, welcome to this blog. Just writing reviews of the book I like. Also, favorite quotes, poetry, memes, sometimes other topics too, but always related to literature. So join me on Twitter to talk to me.

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