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Crime and Punishment and Taxi Driver

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Crime and Punishment and Taxi Driver

He is a man whose psychological workings are dark, twisted, horrifying, and lonely. He is an absurd, anti-hero who is absolutely repulsed by his surroundings, and because he is unable to remove himself from them, he feels justified in removing other people. This profile fits Travis, portrayed by Robert DeNiro in Scorsese's film "Taxi Driver,", and Raskolnikov, the main character of Dostoevsky's novel Crime and Punishment. Their revulsion for life leads both men to commit cold-blooded murders, but the story lines contain major differences. By contrasting these differences and comparing the common themes of the classic and the film, we may come to a clearer understanding of the purpose of both stories.

The root of both Travis' and Raskolnikov's problems is their complete and utter disgust with the world around them. Travis is a New York City cab driver who drives everywhere and picks up anyone. It doesn't matter to him if the customer is a prostitute who uses his backseat as her workplace. He just drives around with a glazed look of indifference in his eyes, while inside, his heart is overflowing with rage. In contrast, Raskolnikov is an ex-student living in St. Petersburg during the mid 1800's. He is extremely poor, and therefore lives in an area called the Haymarket, where all the whorehouses and bars were located. Every time he goes out, he walks past the dregs of society, which fills his heart with hatred for everyone and everything. Both characters see the world to be completely evil and devoid of all goodness, and this existential view drives them to become exactly what they so desperately hate.

Their revolt against ugliness pulls both characters towards the most ugly of all deeds - murder. Travis dreams that "someday a real rain will come and wipe this scum off the streets." He feels some sort of divine calling to actually become this "real rain." Similarly, Raskolnikov plots to sacrifice one "louse of a human being" who is "no good to anyone" for the benefit of thousands. Out of this scheme he derives his Extraordinary/ Superman theory that states that humans are divided into the ordinary and the extraordinary, the men and the supermen. These so-called "supermen" supposedly possess the right to overstep any obstacles in order to fulfill their goals and further mankind. Both Travis and Raskolnikov feel that they are indeed extraordinary and therefore have been given clearance to end a life or two to better the world.

Although the characters have similar traits, the story lines are set up quite differently. The main plot in "Taxi Driver" is the progression of Travis' rage to the climactic murder

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