Heroism and Failure

However, it is Pechorin himself who in the end exposes his own failings. He sees the shallowness of the conventional moral codes of contemporary society, but far from raising himself above them, he lives in a moral vacuum that he makes up for by exercising his own power over others. Ironically, this power is not in fact real but imagined, as it is Pechorin who needs other people:

"I look upon the sufferings and joys of others only in relation to myself as on the food sustaining the strength of my soul. I am no longer capable myself of frenzy under the influence of passion: ambition with me has been suppressed by circumstances, but it has manifested itself in another form, since ambition is nothing else but thirst for power, and my main pleasure - which is to subjugate to my will all that surrounds me, and to excite the emotions of love, devotion and fear in relation to me - is it not the main sign and greatest triumph of power? To be to somebody the cause of sufferings and joys, without having any right to it - is this not the sweetest possible nourishment for our pride?"

Pechorin is not a Byronic hero free from the restraints of morality, or even a rebellious loner. Instead he needs society to kick against. He is a prisoner of his own will and thus a victim rather than the one in control.

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