In Lermontov’s novel The Hero of Our Time, the story “Taman” stands apart. Opening the “Pechorin’s Magazine”, that is, his diary entries, this story at the same time reveals the inner world of the hero. “Another’s soul – darkness” – this proverb as well as possible characterizes the general gloomy-mysterious atmosphere of “Taman”.
Chronologically, this story is the very first, but in the novel it is the third. The reader is already familiar with Pechorin, with his incomprehensible surrounding actions and a cold heart. And then Lermontov puts the hero in an extreme, amazing, semi-fantastic situation. The hero falls into the circle of smugglers. How did this happen?
Pechorin comes to Taman “on
Grigory Alexandrovich still decided to go to this “Fater”, because it was not necessary to choose. Finding himself in a strange place, the hero meets with no less strange people. First he meets a blind boy. When you meet him, the feeling that the blindness of a boy is a deception is not abandoned. “In my head there was a suspicion that this blind man is not as blind as it seems, I tried in vain to assure myself that it is impossible to forge…”
On the first night in the “unclean place” amazing events begin to happen: Pechorin involuntarily becomes a witness of the night transportation of goods by smugglers. So for the first time he sees Janko: “The swimmer was brave, having decided on such a night to set off across the strait for a distance of 20 versts.” Janko is a brave robber who is not afraid of a storm.
The next day, the protagonist gets to know another participant of the night scene – a
The behavior of the girl was justified by the fact that our hero tried to find out from the blind boy the details of their smuggling activities. After persuading Pechorin to take a boat trip at night, the undin, as he called her, tried to drown Grigory Alexandrovich. But she did not succeed. Undine and Janko, frightened of possible exposure, hurriedly disappeared.
The first thing that catches your eye when reading the story “Taman” – it’s amazingly beautiful descriptions of nature. Since this story is part of the Pechorin Magazine, we understand that the narrator in it is the protagonist himself. Such lengthy descriptions of nature reveal to us the Pechorin soul from the new side. He subtly, almost poetically, feels the beauty of the surrounding world. And he has a certain literary talent in order to find exact definitions for describing nature: “The beach cliffs descended to the sea… and below, with a continuous murmur of dark blue waves, the moon gently looked at the restless but submissive element…” ; “Meanwhile, the moon began to dress in clouds, and the fog rose up on the sea, as though a lantern glowed at the stern of a nearby ship, the foam of boulders sparkling on the shore,
The main difference between “Taman” and other stories is its genre. This is a romantic story, written in the tradition of romantic piratical stories and poems by Schiller. We find here the following features of romanticism: mystery, heroic figures (Janko), descriptions of nature, a strange song of the undine. But in the “Taman” there are also realistic features: the two-dimensionality of the landscape (it is in details and realistic), a description of the life of the hut.
Why does fate cast Pechorin into the circle of “honest smugglers”? Why does Janko appear in the novel?
There is an obvious parallel between this image and Lermontov’s poem “A lonely sail grows white…”. We remember how, after the smuggler’s escape from the beloved, “for a long time in the light of the month a white sail between the dark waves flashed…” And since the poem narrates more about the soul world, it can be assumed that the image of Janko is also a reflection of the spiritual world of the protagonist.
Yanko concentrates in himself such qualities of Pechorin as reckless courage, thirst for storms and dangers, aspiration for activity. But Yanko is also the antithesis of Pechorin, because it turns out that Pechorin’s activity is only the fruit of his curiosity, an attempt to fill the void of his life with the problems and interests of others. But, unfortunately, the main character is not just interested in someone else’s life. He interferes with it and destroys. “Like a stone thrown into a smooth spring, I disturbed their calmness, and like a stone I hardly went to the bottom!”
Why does Pechorin’s activity never bring happiness to people, why does it have such destructive power?
Because the main character does not pursue any goal with his activity. It does not make sense. And from this absence of the main task, an astonishing indifference to the surrounding people is born: “And what is it to me to the joys and misfortunes of man, to me, the wandering officer, and even to the roadside for official need.”
This is the paradox of Pechorin’s soul: he delicately feels nature, but is indifferent to people, he craves a storm, but for his spiritual storm there is not even such a primitive goal as smuggling goods that moves Janko and other smugglers.