I’ve known Rodion for a year and a half: sullen, gloomy, arrogant, proud; recently (and maybe much earlier) insecure and hypochondriac. Magnanimous and kind. Doesn’t like voicing his feelings, and would rather do something cruel than speak his heart out in words. At times, however, he’s not hypochondriac at all, but just inhumanly cold and callous, as if there really were two opposite characters in him, changing places with each other. At times he’s terribly taciturn! He’s always in a hurry, always too busy, yet he lies there doing nothing. Not given to mockery, and not because he lacks sharpness but as if he had no time for such trifles. Never hears people out to the end. Is never interested in what interests everyone else at a given moment. Sets a terribly high value on himself and, it seems, not without a certain justification.

Razumikhin offers this description of Raskolnikov in Part III, Chapter II, to Sonya and Pulcheria Alexandrovna. His comments emphasize Raskolnikov’s key character traits of self-centeredness, intelligence, and simultaneous cruelty and kindness. However, the informal, ungrammatical, and free-flowing tone of Razumikhin’s remarks contributes to the seeming inconsistency of his words (“magnanimous and kind . . . inhumanly cold and callous”). The specific mention of “two opposite characters in him” seems to point to the unrelenting tension that Raskolnikov experiences as a result of his conflicting desire to confess and to evade capture. As a whole, this impressionistic depiction captures Raskolnikov’s essential schismatic nature: he has detached himself from humanity and thus only engages in social behavior when it fits his needs.

Additionally, this passage sets up Razumikhin as Raskolnikov’s foil, emphasizing the contrast between Razumikhin’s friendliness and good nature and Raskolnikov’s sullenness and antisocial nature. This difference constitutes strong counterevidence to the argument that Raskolnikov is compelled to commit the murders because of difficult circumstances in life. Razumikhin, like his friend, is a desperately poor ex-student, but he never even considers, much less commits, such a crime. To the contrary, he seems genuinely happy and takes a great deal of pleasure in life.