A Hero of Our Time

Nihilism in A Hero of Our Time and The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea

Nihilism plays a dominant role in both Lermontov’s A Hero of Our Time and Mishima’s The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea. Both novels target a particular character to be made an example, but the circumstances of this undertaking are notably different. In A Hero of Our Time, Pechorin “[experiences] all that life has to offer and [finds] nothing to give him more than passing satisfaction” (Lermontov xviii). Life failed to provide any purpose worthy of his powers, and as a result he turns against life and society. In The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea, Noburo and his group try to go beyond the established societal boundaries; they don’t think that rules apply to them because they are above law and order just as Pechorin is. Unlike the boys in Mishima’s novel, Pechorin doesn’t purposely try to destroy anyone’s life. His escapades are just an attempt to create “a temporary escape from boredom” (Lermontov xviii). But the boys murder the kitten and later the sailor because they believe that only by “acts such as this [could they] fill the world’s greatest hollows” (57). In both novels, the main characters act with no regard for morals, and their contempt for mundane platitudes drives them to hurt others. Pechorin...

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