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Physical Activity in "A Hero of Our Time", by Mikhail Lermentov

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X IB World Literature June 2, 2011 Physical Activity in A Hero of Our Time, by Mikhail Lermentov Throughout A Hero of Our time, by Mikhail Lermontov, Lermontov uses various characters and themes to critique the public's perception of Grigory Alexandrovich Pechorin. One such character is Maxim Maximych. Years ago, Maxim and Pechorin had been friends, and Maxim idolized him. In the chapter Bela, Maxim depicts Pechorin as a romantic, heroic figure, as much of the public sees him. However, by the end of the chapter Maxim Maximych, the reader can see that these impressions were overly optimistic and unfounded in reality. In Maxim Maximych, Maxim repeatedly gets excited over Pechorin, only to see his hopes of reigniting their friendship crushed, exemplifying Maxim's and the public's inability to understand Pechorin for who he really is. Maxim is caught in a cycle of expressing optimism towards meeting Pechorin, being let down, and then again feeling this optimism. Over the course of this change, Maxim's decreasing physical activity illustrates his misunderstanding and increasingly pessimistic view of his relationship with Pechorin. As Maxim is a symbol of the public, his being caught in this cycle of misunderstanding reveals Lermentov's critique of society's false idolization of Pechorin. ...read more.


At night, Pechorin still has not shown himself, and Maxim "threw his pipe on the table, paced up and down the room, tinkered with the stove... and tossed and turned for a long time" (47). Maxim's restlessness signals his further disappointment that Pechorin is not returning his affection, and thus his complete lack of understanding that Pechorin feels no attachment to him. Maxim continues to see Pechorin as a hero despite being denied, symbolizing the public's mistakenly seeing Pechorin in a positive light despite his indifference or malevolence towards everyone he meets. As Maxim finally meets Pechorin, his flamboyant activity regressing into stagnation highlights Maxim's newfound excitement at recreating their friendship. This baseless optimism represents the public's unwarranted categorization of Pechorin as a hero. Upon seeing Pechorin, Maxim began "running as fast as his legs could carry him... gasping for breath, the sweat pouring from his face" (49). Lermontov uses the imagery of Maxim expending all possible energy to come to Pechorin to depict Maxim as desperately thirsty for Pechorin's attention, in spite of Pechorin's making him wait all night long to meet. Maxim looked as if he was "about to throw his arms round Pechorin, but Pechorin rather coldly held out his hand" (49). ...read more.


Maxim's turning away symbolizes his turning away from reality, as even in Pechorin blatantly driving away from him carelessly, Maxim still will not admit that Pechorin is not who he thought he was. Back in his room, the narrator sees that Maxim "was not getting ready to leave" (52) when he expected him to. This sitting contrasts with his previous pacing in the room, when he still felt optimistic about the relationship. Now, Maxim has been abandoned for the last time, illustrating his complete misunderstand of Pechorin, as all of his attempts at affection failed to produce a reaction. Maxim's last cycle of optimism allows the reader to understand that the public's perception of Pechorin will never change. In the chapter Maxim Maximych, Maxim is initially very optimistic about meeting his old friend Pechorin. Even after Pechorin rejects his affection multiple times, Maxim regains confidence in their friendship, creating a cycle that Maxim cannot escape because he does not understand Pechorin's cold nature. Maxim's physical activity exemplifies his repetitive regression into rejection and regained confidence. Lermontov uses Maxim as a tool to attack society's characterization of Pechorin as a hero, as mentally he makes no progress in understanding Pechorin. Word Count: 1246 Lermontov, Mikhail. A Hero of Our Time. Trans. By Paul Foote. New York: Penguin Putnam Inc., 1966. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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