Rakitin is a seminary student and supposed friend of Alyosha. Despite devoting himself to the study of faith, Rakitin is deeply cynical and devious. Although Alyosha considers their relationship close, Rakitin despises the Karamazovs and Alyosha in particular for his seemingly genuine faith and moral character. Rakitin sees Alyosha as the embodiment of what he cannot achieve, as Rakitin has always been limited to adopting trendy philosophical stances, such as socialism, rather than true unshakable faith.

Rakitin struggles with his inability to match Alyosha’s faith, thus leading him to carry out a cunning plan to demoralize Alyosha. Believing that an encounter with Grushenka will shake Alyosha’s faith and cause him to act shamefully, Rakitin introduces the two. Alyosha’s gentleness, however, wins over Grushenka, who refuses to ruin Alyosha’s innocence. Rakitin’s next attempt at taking down the Karamazovs comes during Dmitri’s murder trial. Rakitin writes many successful articles which psychologically interpret Dmitri’s motives and behaviors, along with those of his family, in relation to Fyodor’s murder. 

During Grushenka’s testimony at Dmitri’s trial, she reveals that she and Rakitin are cousins, much to the shame and dismay of Rakitin, who wished to remain unconnected to Grushenka due to her promiscuous reputation. This exposure causes Rakitin to lose much of the credibility he had recently garnered due to the successful articles related to the trial.