Superfluous Man

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A Hero of Our Time is a novel that specifically reveals the environment of Russian society during the early 1800s. In an attempt to create a portrait of the vices of an entire generation Lermontov paints the portrait of Pechorin as he tries to diagnose the malady of the time. Each of female characters plays a very important role in this diagnosis, making it possible to more deeply open the superfluous nature of Pechorin. In this essay, I will examine how Pechorin’s inability to find satisfaction and meaning in life through the role of the female characters. The first story of the novel is Bella’s story. Although Maxim Maximych is not the most descriptive narrator of the novel and despite the fact that he is quite naïve as to the true nature of Pechorin his narrative of Bella’s and Pechorin’s interactions are informative of his character. Pechorin’s dissatisfaction with life is what leads him in search for love. Although Bella is not his first encounter with romance it is the first Lermontov wishes to share. Bella’s story is important because we quickly learn that deep sincere love is not enough to bring meaning and satisfaction to Pechorin’s life. Bella loves Pechorin genuinely, but he is unable to reciprocate that love. Lermontov displays how Pechorin’s superfluous nature leaves him bored and dissatisfied with Bella’s tender and sincere love. He admits he is “still in love with her”, and that he “would give his life for her” but she bores him (35). In the story entitled “Taman”, Lermontov uses the unnamed woman to display Pechorin’s desire to get to know her mysterious and romantic world. Lermontov pictures the world of lawless free life and this attracts Pechorin like any other unrecognized thing in his life. Pechorin is intrigued by the woman’s unpredictable ways and is attracted to her figure: “I was enchanted by the extraordinary suppleness of her figure” (64). As intriguing and interesting as this woman is, Pechorin still cannot find refuge...
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