A Hero of Our Time

A Hero of Our Time Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Kiss (Motif)

Lermontov gives Pechorin many features of a vampire. Pechorin captures Bela and charms her into falling in love with him. Once she does, his attention towards her diminishes. The sudden lack of attention and affection causes her face to turn pale. Furthermore, as Bela dies, Pechorin's last action towards her cements the image of vampirism. He kisses her and seems to take the last of her energy. His vampiric ways also translate into his relationships with Vera and Princess Mary. He kisses Vera and Princess Mary and weakens them emotionally and physically. On another note, the only time where Pechorin is outsmarted by a character involves kisses. The young woman in Taman lures Pechorin to the beach with a kiss. Then, she kisses him again on the boat before attempting to drown him. Kisses do not have positive connotations in this novel. Kisses are tied to vampirism and siren-like behaviors.

Eyes (Motif)

This novel spends a great deal of time on many of its characters' eyes. Even Karagyoz and the blind boy's eyes are described. Eyes, who are typically the windows to the soul, mislead in this novel. The blind boy is more capable than his eyes suggest. Princess Mary sees Pechorin's exhausted body and falsely believes that he has stayed up thinking of her.

Water (Motif)

Water appears in many parts of this novel, but, instead of fertility and life, it is connected to death. Nearing the end, "Bela raised herself on the bed and called out for water" (40). After taking a few sips, she dies. The young woman in Taman lures Pechorin out to sea and tries to drown him. Grushnitsky's body falls off a cliff and enters the water after Pechorin fires a gun at him. Water can also be seen as a means of purification in this novel. Bela, a non-Christian, asks for water as her last act. The fact that Pechorin avoids being immersed in water, not once but twice, is also significant. He is the most corrupt figure in the novel, and he is never redeemed. He always eludes a type of baptism. He does not fall into the sea in Taman despite the young woman's efforts, and Grushnitsky does not kill him in the duel, which would have ushered his body into the water below the cliff.

Plays (Motif)

Maxim Maximych, Pechorin, and Werner constantly take on the roles of spectators. Maxim Maximych witnesses the argument between Kazbich and Azamat. Pechorin continuously spies on Grushnitsky and Princess Mary. He is their audience. He treats them as if they are characters in a play. After Grushnitsky dies, Pechorin even says, "Finita la commedia" (141). It is as if the people around him are merely characters to entertain him. Werner is Pechorin's partner in crime. He and Pechorin share what they witness with each other.

Glass (Motif)

Glass appears in many significant moments of the novel. As Bela dies, she drinks from a glass of water. Grushnitsky has the date Princess Mary picked up his glass engraved on a ring. Glass alludes to the fairytale, Cinderella. Whereas Cinderella's life turns out happily ever after, Bela and Princess Mary's lives do not produce any happy endings.