The Demon, an unnamed demoniac power whose identity is a matter of some controversy, as Russian has no articles (hence, he may be either “the” or “a” demon, though commentators tend to agree that he is a specific demon). Like Lucifer or Satan, he has been expelled from heaven. His role apparently is to lead humans into evil and death, but unlike John Milton’s Satan, he longs for the lost paradise and has the capacity to fall in love with a mortal (Satan perceives Eve’s beauty and is filled with envy, but he has no romantic interest in her). Unlike Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Mephistopheles, the Demon is bored with the prospect of an eternity spent in deluding puny human beings. Although he is indifferent to the beauties of nature, he proves susceptible for some reason to the beauty of Tamara, and despite his coldness and his vicious will to destroy, he is somewhat sympathetic. Some commentators insist that Lermontov identifies himself with the Demon, so that his loneliness and alienation combined with his desire for beauty and love cause him to appeal to the reader even as he appeals, fatally, to Tamara. In his seduction of Tamara, the Demon shows himself to be a master of rhetoric.
Tamara, a beautiful Caucasian princess with bright, shining eyes. She is the only daughter of a famous bandit chief, Prince Goudal, a minor character in the poem. Her mother appears to have died. As she prepares for her wedding, she shows herself to be a graceful dancer, and she is described as “freedom’s joyous, willful pet.” She has misgivings about her new...
(The entire section is 665 words.)