This study will examine the novel A Hero of Our Time, by Mikhail Lermontov. The study will include consideration of the sources of conflict, the resolution of these conflicts, the character of Pechorin as the main bearer of action in all five stories of the novel, and will evaluate the author's intricate plots, exciting action, unusual characters, and natural beauties
in terms of the contribution these elements make to the artistic success of the book.
The novel is mainly about one man---Grigoriy Pechorin. The book is set forth in a complex way, with several narrators involved in five separate sections, but the character of Pechorin and his adventures are at the heart of the entire book. All other characters are important mainly in terms of the light they shed on Pechorin.
Another reason that the book is complex is that Pechorin himself is a very complex man. He is more an anti-hero than a hero, as Lermontov himself makes clear in his Introduction to the novel:
A Hero of Our Time, gentlemen, is indeed a portrait, but not of a single individual; it is a portrait composed of all the vices of our generation in the fullness of their development. You will tell me again that a man cannot be as bad as all that; and I shall tell you that since you have believed in the possibilities of so many tragic and romantic villains having existed, why can you not believe in the reality of Pechorin? (2).
Pechorin, then, has been created by the author to show not only what is villainous about one man, but what is villainous about a whole society. To the author, Pechorin is a symptom of a sick society. It is a society without direction or purpose, and Pechorin represents that society as he goes about doing whatever he wants to do without concern for the disastrous results of his selfishness.
The other main characters in the book, including the narrator who opens the book, old Maksimich, the girl Pechorin kidnaps, and Vulich, who duels Pec...