50 pages 1 hour read

Mikhail Lermontov

A Hero Of Our Time

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1838

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Character Analysis

The Narrator

The narrator and protagonist of Books 1 and 2 is an unnamed member of the Russian military travelling through the Caucasus mountains on government business. He is a young man and has been serving in the region for a year, but his name, personal details, and history remain unspecified.

When Maksim Maksimych asks about his post, instead of providing the details, the narrator says: “I told him” (8). Withholding this information indicates that the narrator will be more of an observer than the principal actor in the story. His narrative function is to establish the frame story, which was a convention of 19th-century fiction, especially when the story revolved around found documents, such as the diary or papers of someone who was no longer present. This set-up creates both an air of mystery and authenticity because the story is being presented by a disinterested party who presumably has no reason to falsify events.

The narrator’s goal in publishing Pechorin’s diaries is to “be useful” (48) by revealing the inner thoughts of a man who has been misunderstood. He leaves his own opinion of Pechorin ambiguous by not specifying whether his description of Pechorin as “a hero of our time” is ironic or not.