Literary analysis of Judah in “Crimes and Misdemeanor”


Literaryanalysis of Judah in “Crimes and Misdemeanor”

Literaryanalysis of Judah in “Crimes and Misdemeanor”

Theextent that people can go to protect their reputation and respect inthe community differently varies between individuals in the society.This extent is determined by the depth of human values that eachperson has and the respect for human dignity and life. The life ofJudah Rosenthal shows the extent that he could go to protect hismarriage, reputation and regard by the society. His life portrays thelevel of his selfishness in regard to protection of his comfort atthe expense of another person’s life. The discussion and analysisof his character in the movie will illustrate the extent at which ahuman being can go to protect his reputation at the expense of theinterests of others.

Tounderstand the values that made him take extreme extents, it isimportant to explore his characters as portrayed in the movie.Diligence is the first trait that greets the viewer who becomescritical of his character as an ophthalmologist. Judah is a hardworking practitioner who is highly committed to his practice at theplace of work. He extends his work limits to even get close to hispatients and guide them towards healing. A good example is when heattends to Rabbi, a man who has been experiencing rapid loss ofeyesight and helps him get well (Crimesand Misdemeanor, 1989). His cordialrelationship with Rabbi leads to sharing his personal informationwith him. The diligence earns him a place in the society that giveshis second character, honorable.

BeforeJudah makes the decision that changes his character, he portrays thetraits of an honorable man. He is an eye specialist who is highlyrespected in the community and considered to be a man of honor. Therespect of his society is also as a result of his good family set upand life as a dad, a husband and a neighbor. This respect earns him areputation in the community, an asset he seeks to protect at any cost(Litch, 2010).Because of his diligence, he is a respected ophthalmologist who ishighly regarded in the society.

Asa family man, Judah values his family and the life he has built. Inthe beginning of the film, he is portrayed as a loving family man whois respectful to his wife apart from having an affair with the flightattendant. His love for the family attaches him to his wife in such amanner that he cannot quit the marriage to marry the flightattendant. Being a family man, he considers his family more valuablethan the mistress, and does not bend to the pressure from Dolores toleave his wife (Litch, 2010).Even with the constant threats by Dolores to expose hisunfaithfulness and financial impropriety, he still sticks with hisfamily and his wife. The value of his family life gives him thecourage to take the extremes of life and commit murder so that he cankeep his family collected.

However,Judah breaks all the positive characters by dating Dolores, amistress who threatens to spoil his life if he does not leave hiswife for her. What Dolores is asking is difficult for Judah, who iscommitted to his family and reputation in the family (Nichols,2000). However, the predicament of thisrelationship is as a result of his irresponsibility that is portrayedby two main incidences. First, he engages in an affair, despitehaving a good wife and gaining respect from the community. As aresult of the affair, he creates a situation that compromises hisvalues in life. Secondly, he gets involved in financial deals thatare not straight, thereby tries to keep it away from the people hecares about. It is this financial impropriety that Dolores takesadvantage of, by threatening to expose him if he does not marry herand leave his wife.

Whilehe acts responsible on one side, he portrays a higher level ofirresponsibility when he decides to commit murder as a way ofcovering for his unfaithful acts. According to Nichols(2000), the decision is hard for him,but he does it with his family in mind. By agreeing to his brother’sproposal to hire a hit-man and kill Dolores. He is so focused intocovering his unfaithful tracks that he takes all the documents thatincriminate him after Dolores is killed. His desire for protectinghis reputation at the expense of Dolores life is not much shaken evenby the sight of the dead Dolores (Crimesand Misdemeanor, 1989).

Judahas a character in the movie shows the selfish disregard for values bypeople who seek to protect their reputation at all cost. The killingof Dolores to cover for unfaithful tracks by Judah shows the extentthat a person can go to protect his mistakes to spoil his reputation.This, however, is achieved at the expense of the life of anotherperson who was only ambitious enough to achieve her selfish goals atthe expense of another. The irresponsibility of Judah gives room forunfaithfulness that ruins the peace that he had built over the years.Now he has to live with a guilty conscious that he is enjoyingcomfort at the expense of Dolores life.


Crimesand Misdemeanors, 1989,Woody Allen, United States: Orion Pictures

Litch,M.M. (2010). PhilosophyThrough Film(2nded.).London: Routledge

Nichols,M.P. (2000). ReconstructingWoody: Art, Love, and Life in the Films of Woody Allen.Lanham,Maryland:Rowman and Littlefield