A Hero Of Our Time

 
                                                                                                       
                                                                                                           




                      English: Book Report:
                      A Hero Of Our Time
                                                                                          February 17, 1999

                      There are many ways to tell a story and Mikhail Lermontov was able to employ
                      the use of narrative voice and itÕs many uses in A Hero of Our Time. With his
                      uses he is able to paint a picture of the bookÕs anti-hero, Pechorin and
                      enlighten the reader on the character of a disturbed man. This man is scarred
                      in some ways from life and does not know how to deal with the scars life has
                      dealt him. This inability is first shown in the narration of Maxim Maximych.
                      Maxim recounts his story of meeting Pechorin to the traveler, who is the main
                      narrator at the beginning of the book. Maxim has many tales of Pechorin but
                      the main one being about Bela. Bela was acquired from BelaÕs brother,
                      Azamat for a beautiful horse that didnÕt even belong to Pechorin but to
                      another man in PechorinÕs post. This trade says a couple things about human
                      behaviour. On AzamatÕs side there is the fact that his greed has control over
                      his actions which leads to him giving over family for an animal that in his eyes
                      is a more valuable friend than his sister. Pechorin sees this and so from the
                      beginning of the novel we can tell Pechorin is a master manipulator who preys
                      on the weak of the world. Pechorin from the beginning is persistent in having
                      Bela love him. She at first is resistant but slowly grows more so. But then a
                      terrible thing comes to pass. Bela begins to die. Pechorin realizes early on
                      that he can not do anything to save her but he tries to anyhow. This is in part
                      because he wants to have a clear conscience about her death since in many
                      ways he changed her life forever. Maxim makes a comment on this
                      persistence by saying: ÒHe was like that. HeÕd get something into his head and
                      not be content till he got it.Ó1 This persistence is a character trait that is in the
                      end part of his own downfall. When Bela dies Maxim says: ÒHis face showed
                      me nothing particular, and that annoyed me. If IÕd been in his place IÕd have
                      died of grief...I wanted to console him, more for decencyÕs sake, you
                      understand, than anything else. But when I spoke he lifted up his head and
                      laughed. The laugh sent cold shivers down my spine.Ó2 There are many
                      reasons why PechorinÕs laugh might have sent shivers down MaximÕs spine.
                      Maxim would probably think that Pechorin is a cold man with no real emotions.
                      But I think that the man who could never love has lost someone that he loves
                      and he might not know how to handle the emotions that are welling up inside
                      of him. At the same time he is realizing that he can not do everything and that
                      deep down inside he is only human and that he can not do everything. And for
                      someone like Pechorin, a master politician it is a hard thing to swallow.
                      Perhaps Maxim realizes this but from what Maxim tells us he shows Pechorin
                      as a cold human being in many respects but unknowingly he has shown us a
                      man with a soul. Of course this soul could be debated with the story of
                      Princess Mary that is told by Pechorin in his journal. Princess Mary is a
                      socialite and very popular of course. Along comes Pechorin to steal her
                      thunder. He tells glorious stories and insults her subtly by stealing away her
                      audience. She of course wants to know who this man who comes in so bravely
                      to challenge her popularity is. Gradually they become friends but he still
                      insults her sometimes by ignoring her when she comes by. This only makes
                      her want him more. And this is what Pechorin wants because he watches
                      Grushnitsky, a potential suitor to the princess, fail at playing the game of
                      romance. Therefore he wants to show Grushnitsky off as a phony who is really
                      a bumbling idiot and not a suave man. When Grushnitsky is shown off by
                      Pechorin he is shown as a fool. So to protect his honour he challenges
                      Pechorin to a duel. Pechorin finds out that the guns in the duel will be rigged
                      to humiliate him. Pechorin comes up with a plan of his own to defeat
                      Grushnitsky. What he ends up doing is killing Grushnitsky. This shocks all of
                      the onlookers. But in reality eliminate the bad player of the group. When
                      Pechorin returns to the town he finds out what he has assumed. Princess
                      Mary loves him. He goes to her and tells her that he does not return the love.
                      Of course we do not ever know if Pechorin really loved her but at the end of
                      the book you find him to be a dark, mean person without a soul. As Pechorin
                      shares some of his thoughts throughout the novel as well as the other
                      characterÕs opinion of him, we are given a picture that does not make sense.
                      We are never given a full sense of who Pechorin really is. But perhaps that is
                      what Mikhail Lermontov is trying to say, that we can never really know a
                      person, know matter how well we know him or her.