I‘ve titled my this post with the chorus line from Måns Zelmerlöw‘s song „Heroes“ with a reason. Today I‘ll be discussing a novel „A Hero of Our Time“ by Mikhail Lermontov. And I hope by the end of this post you‘ll be able to understand why the title sounds exactly like this – „We are the heroes of our time“. So let‘s go.
I won‘t go into detailed analysis of the structure of this novel, if you want to find out something about this, there‘s plenty of information about it. No, I just want to focus on heroism of a specific time. What it is to be a hero, and who can be that hero and why?
In this novel we pretty much have only three characters: Bela, Maxim Maximych and Pechcorin. The entire storyline goes around the three of them (there are of course other characters but they are only minor characters). For readers it‘s quite comfortable, makes it it easier to read and seek the story.
A Hero of Our Time is a picked up from all the people of our generation and their flaws. That‘s what is said in the novel. You know, it‘s so hard to comment something based specifically on this novel, because either way you won‘t be neither right or wrong. So it‘s a bit difficult to make some kind of conclusion. Like for example, Pechorin sabotages this tartar boy to kidnap and bring him his sister Bela. For her, Pechorin is ready to steal the finest horse of all, from Kazbich. Now, what‘s heroic about this? That Pechorin is risking his life by stealing the horse just to get a woman he likes? That he is thinking he might give Bela a better life though racialy she‘s inferior than he is? Personally, I don‘t find anything heroic here. And that‘s how (for me) goes the entire story of this novel? There‘s just flaws that are transformed into heroicity somewhy.
Mostly we learn about Pechorin from Maxim Maximych’s stories. We find out that he was very calculative person, impulsive. Basically, not much has changed. Today the exactly same features are considered as those that a hero of our time obtains. Not sure if it is right, because each one of us has their own features that represent heroism, any kind of heroism. So this understanding given in a novel does not satisfy me, however, it has the right to be that way, I‘m not going to deny it or anything.
However, it was an interesting moment to observe the clash of two different cultures. Caucasians and Russians. And it was even more interesting to see how Maxim Maximych goes with understanding when something wild (looking from Russian perspective) is done by Caucasians. He just goes, like: „OK, it‘s their tradition. We have to deal with it“. One the one hand it‘s fascinanting how high his level of tolerance has reached. On the other hand, but if their tradition is to kill for whatever reasons so doesn‘t that make you partner in crime, because you didn‘t stop that crime, you did nothing to punish for that crime. So, this respect for other cultures and traditions can be both heroism and anti-heroism.
Another thing that I did not like was Pechorin’s behaviour with Bela. As soon as he saw her, he wanted her. But once he got, he was no longer interested in her. So what is heroic about that? Treat a woman like a thing, a trophy? It‘s actually pretty low.
I don‘t feel like I have anything else to say about this novel. It‘s not a bad a novel. You should read it if you want. But it‘s also not the best novel. That‘s just my opinion.
Back to the heroes of our time. I don‘t know… Like at the same time as i was reading this novel I also watched „Sons of Anarchy“ series. And when you think about it SAMCRO guys can be also seen as heroes and antiheroes. They have their own code of ethics, they’d die for their families and Club, but at the same time thei are outlaws, they sell guns, they kill (thinking of it as some kind of justice), so at this point they are not heroes, no matter how cool or masculine they are…
Maybe what was thought under the name of hero has changed, or maybe the author was writing ironically, but I just did not find anything heroic about this novel. But then again, anyone can become a hero and actually everyone is in a sense a hero in their particular time, so I don‘t see a reason why we should be so fascinated about all these hero stories coming from books, TV, etc. Let‘s see heroes in simple people who are near us. They are the true heroes. We all are. Don‘t forget that.