An Analysis of the Perceived Heroism of a Superfluous Man in A Hero of our Time
A Hero of our Time by Mikhail Lermontov is a display of Lermontov's perception of Russian society. It focuses around Pechorin, a member of the upper class. Prior to writing the novel, the author had some problems with the government of Russia (members of the upper class) regarding his hero, Alexander Pushkin. Since this, his respect for the upper class was diminished. Lermontov uses the attitudes of other characters towards Pechorin to display how the lower class unjustly perceives the upper class as heroes, while the middle class sees them for what they are.
The first member of Russian society met in the novel, Maxim Maximych, belongs to the lower class. His descriptions of Pechorin in the story of "Bela" are of fascination and admiration. He calls him "'a grand fellow,'" and recognizes his wealth, due to "'the number of expensive things he had'" (Lermontov, 11). His interpretation of Pechorin is that of a hero, or at least a great man. His view of Pechorin's harsh personality is masked by the rank of Pechorin in society. Since he is of a higher status and fighting in the military, Maxim ignores his negative behavior. Later in the novel in "Maxim Maximych", Maxim is delighted to find out that Pechorin has arrived where he and the traveling officer were staying. He tells the servant that "'[He] was a friend of [the servant's master],' […] giving the servant a friendly slap on the shoulder" (45). His interpretation of Pechorin's behavior is still blinded by the status of the man that he served with. This continues until Pechorin's avoidance of the two men and their encounter with him as he sets off. Maxim's attempt to hug his so-called friend as Pechorin "rather coldly held out his hand", although as a cancellation prize "he gave him a friendly smile" (49). Pechorin is utterly unemotional at the meeting with Maxim, and never once references him as a friend as Maxim does him. He...
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