Parts of the Whole
Women in A Hero of our Time as Missing Pieces of Pechorin
Lermontov's Pechorin is the prototypical modern anti-hero. He is the "hero of destruction," wreaking havoc in his path. A relationship with Pechorin is akin to a death sentence. He brings women nothing but pain and loss. He is almost obsessive in his conquests of women. Women fascinate him; he is repulsed, feels superior to them, and yet he feels that he must dominate them. He is not capable of an extended relationship for the same reason that he cannot find a passion or career in life. Suffering from chronic ennui, he gets "used to" (40) everything in life. His "restless heart" (40) simply gets bored with anything and everything. He is a black hole. He sucks everything and everyone around him into his vacuum, taking everything they give until they are sucked dry. Nothing satisfies him.
The void inside him can be temporarily sated by pursuing a woman, who he will love until he has captured her and then cast her aside. A self-proclaimed "moral cripple," (127) he lacks many of the essential qualities that make up a whole person. The three main women characters that we meet in A Hero of Our Time are three essential parts of his soul that are missing. Mary, Vera, and Bela represent the key spiritual virtues of hope, faith and love that Pechorin does not possess. In a twisted attempt to atone for his weakness, he conquers and destroys these women in an attempt to prove his superiority. He tries to assert that he does not need these qualities to survive. He is manipulative in his methods and ruthless in his destruction.
Pechorin destroys the innocent dreams of love that Princess Mary once held. He disillusions her...