A Hero of Our Time

Who Is Pechorin?: Ambiguity and Unreliability in A Hero of Our Time 12th Grade

The novel A Hero of our Time is a Russian novel about the life of a soldier named Pechorin serving in the Caucasus, written by Mikhail Lermontov and translated in one of its most famous versions by Vladimir and Dmitri Nabokov. Throughout his novel, Lermontov’s different points of view, the unchronological flow of the chapters, and the exclusion of details all prove that appearances can obscure one’s true nature. Lermontov’s multiple narrators; the unnamed traveler, Maksim Maksimych, and finally Pechorin himself, all present Pechorin differently, making it unclear if any of those represent Pechorin’s true nature. Lermontov’s order of the chapters in the novel, rather than the chronologically accurate order of the stories, develops Pechorin’s character at different times of his life, thus making the reasons behind his changes in nature ambiguous. Finally, Lermontov’s exclusion of details in crucial parts of the novel unknowingly obscures Pechorin’s true nature.

Lermontov’s multiple narrators throughout the novel are continually distanced from Pechorin, and thus their descriptions of Pechorin mask his true nature. Maksimych describes Pechorin to the unnamed traveler as “…a little odd…must have been a rich fellow too…” (Lermontov...

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