Summary of Mikhail Lermontov's Princess Mary
In Mikhail Lermontov’s novel A Hero of Our Time, the author brings out the irony surrounding various characters with Pechorin being at the center stage. The portrayal of Pechorin is viewed in the book as an exemplary Byronic anti-hero and Lermontov describes him as a typical man of his age. The author creates a hero who is both cynical and intelligent, who is honest but violent, not alive in an absolute meaning of this world, but also not dead yet, at least, not physical. In other words, Pechorin is a complex character full of contradictions.
This short story is told through multiple diary entries. Pechorin is in Pyatigorsk, and he is enamored with the landscape. After praising the landscape, Pechorin ventures to the Elizabeth spring, where he meets Grushnitsky, a cadet he has fought alongside. Pechorin reveals that he and Grushnitsky are civil towards each other, but that they do not like each other. Pechorin finds Grushnitsky to be too pretentious and self-absorbed. Grushnitsky "flaunts [a] thick private's greatcoat," and he tells Pechorin "that his reason for joining the K-- regiment would forever remain a secret between himself and the Almighty". Pechorin believes that Grushnitsky enlisted into the army to fulfill a penchant for romantic situations. At the Elizabeth spring, Grushnitsky sees Princess Mary, a young aristocrat visiting Pyatigorsk with her mother. Pechorin observes that Grushnitsky knows a little too much about Princess Mary, and he deduces immediately that Grushnitsky has feelings for her. Pechorin later witnesses Princess Mary pick up a glass for Grushnitsky, who has a hard time picking it up due to his injured leg. Pechorin walks towards Grushnitsky after the scene takes place and pretends to have not seen anything. Grushnitsky, believing that Pechorin has seen nothing, talks to Pechorin about the incident and tells Pechorin that Princess Mary is an "absolute angel" for picking up the glass. When Grushnitsky and Pechorin depart the Elizabeth spring, they walk past Princess Mary's house. Seated at a window, she sees them and acknowledges only Grushnitsky. This act seals both her and Pechorin's downfalls.
Obviously, Pechorin remains a compelling character because of his flaws, and we end the novel with a sense of loss that he was never able to find a way to apply his talents. It is a shame when someone loses their sense of humanity and cannot regain interest in life.