Last Updated on September 13, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 968
Hadji Murad is a Chechen warlord, renowned for his courage and skill in battle, as well as his chivalry. His family has been taken prisoner by Imam Shamil, and his main motive throughout the narrative is to secure their freedom. The author reveals little of Murad’s inner life,...
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Hadji Murad is a Chechen warlord, renowned for his courage and skill in battle, as well as his chivalry. His family has been taken prisoner by Imam Shamil, and his main motive throughout the narrative is to secure their freedom. The author reveals little of Murad’s inner life, but he is clearly astute in his judgment of the Russians, understanding the essence of what is happening between them, even without knowing their language. Apart from family feeling, he is motivated by personal prestige and pride, and is deeply religious.
Sado is a loyal supporter of Hadji Murad in a village where almost everyone else is hostile to him. He gives shelter to Murad at the beginning of the story, even though this places him in danger.
Eldar is one of Hadji Murad’s most loyal followers, notable chiefly for his absolute devotion. He is a strong, handsome young man with a serious manner, who is entrusted with the most serious missions by Murad.
Peter Avdeev is a Russian soldier who is killed by the wounds he receives in a skirmish with the Chechens. He is an amiable, talkative character who, before his death, had befriended the Chechen messengers who came from Hadji Murad, announcing to his comrades that they were good fellows who were just like Russians.
Prince Vorontsov the Younger
Prince Vorontsov is a colonel in the Russian army and the scion of an immensely wealthy and aristocratic Russian family. His father is the Commander-in-Chief of the army. Vorontsov therefore has far more power and influence than other colonels, or even officers of higher rank, a fact that causes resentment. He is ambitious and eager to succeed on his own account, as well as to impress his father.
Princess Marya Vasilevna
Princess Marya Vasilevna is Vorontsov’s beautiful wife. She uses her beauty and tact to advance her husband’s career and to improve relations between him and the other officers. Despite this, she is unfaithful and has affairs with several of Vorontsov’s comrades.
Gamzalo is one of Hadji Murad’s murids, or attendants. Unlike Murad and the others, he cannot hide his hatred for the Russians, and praises Imam Shamil extravagantly, even when speaking to the Russian officers.
General Meller-Zakomelsky is an officer senior to Colonel Prince Vorontsov but inferior in wealth and social status. He is therefore resentful of Vorontsov and is angry that he accepted the surrender of Hadji Murad on his own account, without making a full report. However, he is somewhat mollified by the beauty and charm of Vorontsov’s wife, Princess Marya Vasilevna.
Aksinya Avdeev has been married to Peter Avdeev for a year when she learns of his death. She laments for her husband but is secretly relieved, as she is pregnant by another man, whom she wishes to marry.
Prince Vorontsov the Elder
Prince Vorontsov is the Russian Commander-in-Chief, an aristocrat, and a man of great wealth. He is over seventy years old, with a long military career behind him. Although most of this career has been successful, he once came close to disaster in an encounter with Hadji Murad. Nonetheless, he treats Murad chivalrously and advises the Tsar to accede to his requests for Russian assistance.
Captain Loris-Melikov is the aide-de-camp to Prince Vorontsov the Elder, well-regarded by his chief. His ability to speak Tartar brings him close to Hadji Murad, who, at Loris-Melikov’s request, relates the story of his life. His courtesy and aristocratic bearing mark him out as one of the few Russians apart from Vorontsov who has the respect of Hadji Murad.
Prince Chernyshov is the Minister of War. He is portrayed as a vain and envious man who resents Vorontsov for his greater wealth and his aristocratic background. Chernyshov himself is a parvenu who takes pride in his military discipline and toughness, despite his advanced age.
Tsar Nicholas I
Tsar Nicholas I is portrayed as a shallow despot who leads an empty life of pleasure-seeking. He has been flattered so long and so thoroughly that, despite his mediocre abilities, he now believes himself to be a great genius on whom the fate of Europe rests. Despite this confidence, the Tsar is bad-tempered, as he seems at least partially aware of how hollow and futile his existence is.
Captain Butler is a young, naïve soldier, full of the joy of life, who has recently transferred to the Caucasus from a regiment in Saint Petersburg. He regards war as a game and an adventure.
Major Petrov is the commanding officer of the Caucasian outpost to which Vorontsov sends Hadji Murad. He is a good-tempered, unassuming man who enjoys simple pleasures and frequently gets drunk.
Marya Dmitrievna is Major Petrov’s mistress. She is attractive and kindhearted and is particularly drawn toward Hadji Murad, who returns her interest. When Hadji Murad is killed, she angrily accuses all the soldiers of being mere cutthroats.
Imam Shamil is the Chechen leader. He is renowned as a holy man and believed by many to be a saint. Although he is frequently discussed, Imam Shamil does not appear until the last few chapters of the story. He can be harsh and intolerant but has a strong sense of his responsibilities.
Yusuf is the eldest son of Hadji Murad and is a prisoner of Imam Shamil. He admires the Imam and questions his father’s judgment. As a young, healthy man, he is deeply frustrated by imprisonment and inactivity.
Hadji Aga is a former friend and fellow campaigner of Hadji Murad. However, in Murad’s last battle, he fights with the Russians against his old friend, finally cutting off Murad’s head.