War and Peace book report - detailed analysis, book summary, literary elements, character analysis, Leo Tolstoy biography, and everything necessary for active class participation.
War and Peace is an epic novel about Russian society between 1805 and 1815, just before and after the Napoleonic invasion. Considered one of the greatest books ever written, it contains 559 characters, commemorates important military battles and portrays famous historical personalities but it's main theme is the chronicle of the lives of two main aristocratic families, the Rostovs and the Bolkonskys.
In the start of the novel we are introduced to many important characters very quickly at a party. Among them are Pierre Bezukhov, the bastard son of a wealthy count and Andrew Bolkonski, the clever, driven son of a former commander in the military. Andrew is soon wounded in battle and presumed dead. After fully healing, he arrives home to find that his wife, Lise, has given birth to a son and died in the birth. Leaving his devout sister, Mary to raise his son, Andrew begins to work to reform the Russian government.
Meanwhile, Pierre, who was made sole heir to his father's vast fortune, marries a woman named Helene very quickly and without getting to know her very well. Soon after their marriage he discovers that she has been unfaithful and challenges her lover to duel during which Pierre nearly kills the other man. After this, Pierre becomes confused and disillusioned, eventually wondering off to join the Freemasons. Andrew falls in love with a young woman named Natasha Rostov, who comes from a family whose fortune is declining. But after his father finds out about the match, he is furious and demands that Andrew wait a year before wedding Natasha. The lovers agree and Andrew leaves the city to travel.
While he is away, Natasha falls in love with a man named Anatole Kuragin and plans to elope with him. When Andrew hears of this he breaks off his engagement with Natasha. Distraught, Natasha attempts to commit suicide and becomes ill. Pierre begins to nurse her back to health but in the process falls in love with her and must decide if he intends to betray his oaths and marry her while Russia is being bombarded by Napoleon's forces and Moscow is being evacuated.
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Genre: a historical and philosophical novel
Setting: Russia during the French invasion in 1812
Point of view: third-person
Narrator: an omniscient narration
Tone: sympathetic, impersonal
Theme: a story about main characters’ spirituality and family happiness as the ultimate reward for spiritual suffering
The novel starts in July 1805 in Saint Petersburg, at a party given by Anna Pavlovna Scherer - the maid of honor and close friend to the dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna. A large number of the fundamental characters of the novel are presented as they enter the party. Pierre (Pyotr Kirilovich) Bezukhov is the illegitimate child of an affluent count, who, after a number of recent strokes, is dying in a hospital. Pierre is soon to wind up involved in a battle for his estate. Taught abroad after his mother's demise, Pierre is generous yet socially clumsy, and thinks that its hard to incorporate into Petersburg society. It is well known to the guests at the party that Pierre is the count's most loved of all his illegitimate offspring. Additionally going to the party is Pierre's companion, Prince Andrei Nikolayevich Bolkonsky, spouse of Lise, a beguiling society darling. He is frustrated with Petersburg society and with wedded life in the wake of finding his wife is shallow and silly, and chooses to escape to the warfront in order to become aide-de-camp to Prince Mikhail Ilarionovich Kutuzov in the coming war against Napoleon.
The plot moves to Moscow, Russia's previous capital, differentiating its common, more Russian approaches to the more European culture of Petersburg. The Rostov family are presented. Count Ilya Andreyevich Rostov and Countess Natalya Rostova are a friendly couple yet always stressed over their disarranged funds. They have four youngsters. Thirteen-year-old Natasha (Natalia Ilyinichna) who is currently smitten with Boris Drubetskoy, a young fellow who is going to join the armed force as an officer. Twenty-year-old Nikolai Ilyich promises his heart to Sonya (Sofia Alexandrovna), his fifteen-year-old cousin, a vagrant who has been raised by the Rostovs. The eldest heir, Vera Ilyinichna, is frosty and fairly haughty yet has a decent forthcoming marriage in a Russian-German officer, Adolf Karlovich Berg. Petya (Pyotr Ilyich) at nine is the most youthful; like his sibling, he is rash and plans to join the armed force when of age. At Bald Hills, the Bolkonskys' country house, Prince Andrei withdraws for war and leaves his scared, pregnant wife Lise with his flighty father Prince Nikolai Andreyevich and religious sister Maria Nikolayevna Bolkonskaya, who declines to wed the child of a rich aristocrat because of her commitment to remaining by her father's side.
The second part opens with depictions of the approaching Russian-French war and the preparations already underway. During a fight called the Schöngrabern engagement, Nikolai Rostov, now having been made an ensign in the Hussars, joins the fight. Boris Drubetskoy acquaints him with Prince Andrei, whom Rostov offends in an immature insult. He is also profoundly pulled in by Tsar Alexander's speaking abilities. Nikolai gambles and makes friends with his officer, Vasily Dmitrich Denisov, and gets to know the merciless, and maybe, psychopathic Fyodor Ivanovich Dolokhov. Bolkonsky, Rostov and Denisov are included in the heartbreaking Battle of Austerlitz, in which Andrei is injured as he endeavors to save a Russian standard.
The Battle of Austerlitz is a noteworthy occasion in the book. Later in the fight, Andrei is caught by the enemy and even meets the legendary, Napoleon. Tolstoy depicts Austerlitz as an early test for Russia, one which finished seriously in light of the fact that the officers battled for insignificant things like glory or fame as opposed to the higher excellencies which would deliver a triumph at Borodino amid the 1812 intrusion.
Book Two starts with Nikolai Rostov quickly returning on leave to Moscow joined by his companion Denisov, his officer from his Pavlograd Regiment. He spends a very long winter at home. Natasha has bloomed into a wonderful young lady. Denisov begins to look longingly at her and proposes marriage yet is rejected. Despite the fact that his mother begs Nikolai to wed an affluent woman to save the family from its desperate monetary straits, Nikolai won't. Rather he guarantees to wed his former sweetheart and cousin, the penniless Sonya.
Pierre Bezukhov, upon at last gaining access to his enormous inheritance, is all of the sudden changed from a blundering young fellow into the most eligible young bachelor in the Russian Empire. Realizing that it isn't right, he is nonetheless persuaded into marriage with Prince Kuragin's lovely but improper daughter, Hélène (Elena Vasilyevna Kuragina). Hélène, who is rumored to be included in an incestuous relationship with her brother Anatol, informs Pierre that she will never agree to bear any children for him. Hélène is likewise reputed to engage in extramarital relations with Dolokhov, who ridicules Pierre in broad daylight. Pierre loses his temper and proposes a duel to Dolokhov.
Oddly (in light of the fact that Dolokhov is a prepared dueller), Pierre wounds Dolokhov. Hélène denies her affair, yet Pierre is sure she is lying and abandons her. In his despair, Pierre joins the Freemasons. He surrenders his previous happiness and enters upon a philosophical journey.
Pierre is contrasted by Prince Andrei Bolkonsky. Andrei recoups from his nearly deadly wound in a military hospital and returns home, just to discover his wife Lise passing away in child labor. He is tortured by his feeling of remorse for not treating her better. But their child, Nikolenka, survives.
Awash with disillusionment, Prince Andrei does not come back to the armed force but rather stays on at his estate, taking a shot at a venture that would streamline military conduct to tackle issues of complication in charge of the death toll on the Russian side. Pierre visits him and brings new inquiries asking where God is in this immoral world. Pierre is occupied with panentheism and the likelihood of a the hereafter. Pierre's wife, Hélène, implores him to take her back, and attempting to comply with the Freemason laws of absolution, he concurs. Hélène builds up herself as a entertaining hostess in Petersburg society.
Prince Andrei takes his recently composed military thoughts to Petersburg, innocently hoping to impact either the Emperor himself or those near him. Youthful Natasha, likewise in Petersburg, is attending her first ball, where she meets Prince Andrei and quickly reinvigorates him with her vivacious appeal. Andrei trusts he has discovered reason in life again and, subsequent to paying the Rostovs a few visits, proposes marriage to Natasha. Be that as it may, Andrei's father despises the Rostovs and restricts the marriage, and he demands the couple wait for a year to be wed. Prince Andrei leaves to recover from his injuries abroad, leaving Natasha at first upset. Count Rostov takes her and Sonya to visit with a friend of theirs in Moscow.
Natasha attends the Moscow opera, where she meets Hélène and her brother, Anatole. Anatole has since wed a Polish woman whom he has also left in Poland. He finds himself exceptionally enamored with Natasha and resolves to seduce her, and contrives with his sister to do so. Anatole succeeds in making Natasha trust he cherishes her, in the long run setting up arrangements to run away together. Natasha writes to Princess Maria, Andrei's sister, severing her engagement. Finally, Sonya finds her arrangements to steal away and foils them. Pierre is at first alarmed by Natasha's conduct, however acknowledges he has fallen for her. As the Great Comet of 1811- 12 crosses the night sky, life seems to start once more for Pierre.
Prince Andrei coldly acknowledges Natasha's breaking of the engagement. He tells Pierre that his pride won't permit him to reestablish his proposition. Embarrassed, Natasha makes a suicide attempt and is left near death. With the assistance of her family and her own religious convictions, Natasha figures out how to continue on in Moscow through this dim period. In the interim, the entire of Russia is influenced by the coming meeting between Napoleon's troops and the Russian armed force. Pierre persuades himself through decoding certain words and letters that Napoleon is the Antichrist of the Book of Revelation. The old Prince Bolkonsky dies while attempting to shield his domain from French raiders. No well organized assistance from any Russian armed force appears to be accessible to the Bolkonskys, however Nikolai Rostov turns up at their home so as to put down a nascent peasant revolt. He finds himself fascinated with Princess Maria, yet recalls his guarantee to Sonya.
Back in Moscow, the war-fixated Petya figures out how to convince his parents to let him enlist. Napoleon himself is a principle character in this area, and the novel presents him in distinctive point of interest as both a mastermind and would-be strategist. Likewise depicted are the all around sorted out power of more than 400,000 French Army that walk through the Russian wilderness in the late summer and finally reach the edges of the city of Smolensk.
Pierre chooses to leave Moscow and go to watch the Battle of Borodino from a vantage point overlooking it, next to a Russian ordnance group. He starts to help them by joining in conveying ammo. Amidst the turmoil he encounters directly the pulverization of war; Eugène's cannons keep on beating down Russian support columns, while Marshals Ney and Davout set up a crossfire with mounted guns situated on the Semyonovskaya heights. The fight turns into a ghastly butcher for both sides and finishes in a standoff. The Russians, be that as it may, have won an ethical triumph by facing Napoleon's supposedly powerful armed force. The Russian armed force pulls back the following day, permitting Napoleon to walk on to Moscow. Among the injured are Anatole Kuragin and Prince Andrei. Anatole loses a leg, and Andrei endures a projectile injury in the belly. Both are accounted for dead, however their families are in such confusion that nobody can be advised.
The Rostovs have held up until the last moment to keep from leaving Moscow, even after it is clear that Kutuzov has withdrawn past Moscow and Muscovites are being given opposing directions on the most proficient method to either escape or battle. Count Rostopchin, the current commander in chief of Moscow, is distributing propaganda, telling the citizens to put their confidence in religious symbols, while in the meantime asking them to battle with pitchforks if essential. Before escaping himself, he orders his men to burn the city. The Rostovs have a troublesome time choosing what to bring with them, yet at last, Natasha persuades them to load their carts with the injured from the Battle of Borodino. It is unknown to Natasha that Prince Andrei is amongst the injured.
At the point when Napoleon's Grand Army at long last occupies a relinquished and blazing Moscow, Pierre takes off on an eccentric mission to kill Napoleon. He gets to be anonymous in all the confusion, shedding his obligations by wearing worker garments. The only people he sees that he knows are Natasha and her family, as they withdraw from Moscow. Natasha notices and grins at him, and he thus understands the full extent of his affection for her.
Pierre spares the life of a French officer who battled at Borodino, yet is taken prisoner by the withdrawing French amid his attempted assassination of Napoleon, in the wake of sparing a lady from being assaulted by fighters in the French Army. Pierre gets to know a fellow detainee, Platon Karataev, a worker with a principled air. In Karataev, Pierre at last finds what he has been looking for: a true man of honesty, who is absolutely without misrepresentation. Pierre finds significance in life just by communicating with him. In the wake of seeing French officers sacking Moscow and shooting Russians indiscriminately, Pierre is compelled to walk with the Grand Army amid its sad retreat from Moscow in the unforgiving Russian winter. Following quite a while of hardship - amid which the fever-tormented Karataev is shot by the French - Pierre is at last liberated by a Russian army, after a little clash with the French that sees the youthful Petya Rostov executed in real life.
Nearby, Andrei has been taken in and tended to by the Rostovs, escaping from Moscow to Yaroslavl. He is brought together with Natasha and his sister Maria. At this point he has lost all will to live. He finally forgives Natasha before soon dying.
As the novel draws closed, Pierre's wife Hélène passes away from an overdose of an abortifacient. Pierre is brought together with Natasha, while the successful Russians reconstruct Moscow. Natasha talks about Prince Andrei's demise and Pierre of Karataev's. Both begin to develop a bond between them in their mourning. With the assistance of Princess Maria, Pierre discovers love finally and weds Natasha.
This is followed by a two-part epilogue which starts with the wedding of Pierre and Natasha in 1813. Count Rostov passes away before long, leaving his eldest child Nikolai to assume responsibility for the deeply in debt estate. Nikolai ends up with the assignment of keeping the family from insolvency. His severe dislike of the idea of wedding for riches nearly wins out, however at last he weds the now-rich Maria Bolkonskaya and in this manner spares his family from money related ruin.
Nikolai and Maria then decide to move to the town of Bald Hills with his mother and Sonya, who he monetarily supports. They additionally bring up Prince Andrei's child, Nikolai Andreyevich (Nikolenka) Bolkonsky. As in every single great marriage, there are mistaken assumptions, yet the couples -Pierre and Natasha, Nikolai and Maria - stay committed to their life partners. Pierre and Natasha visit Bald Hills in 1820. There is an indication in the end sections that the hopeful, boyish Nikolenka and Pierre would both turn out to be a piece of the Decembrist Uprising. The first epilogue closes with Nikolenka promising he would accomplish something which would satisfy his late father.
The second part of the epilogue contains the narrator's critique of every single existing type of standard history. The nineteenth century Great Man Theory guarantees that recorded occasions are the aftereffect of the activities of "saints" and other incredible people; Tolstoy contends this is unthinkable in light of how once in a while these activities result in awesome chronicled occasions. Or maybe, he contends, extraordinary authentic occasions are the consequence of numerous much smaller occasions driven by a great many people. He then goes ahead to contend that these smaller occasions are the consequence of a reverse relationship in the middle of need and unrestrained choice, need being founded on reason and subsequently logical by recorded investigation, and through freedom being founded on "awareness" and in this way inalienably erratic.
Pierre Bezukhov - Pierre, whom numerous critics view as an impression of Tolstoy himself, is a sympathetic character in his status as a pariah to the Russian high societies. His straightforwardness and unequivocal ways stand out from other, more artificial characters, like for example, the Kuragins. Despite the fact that the participants at Anna Pavlovna's gathering consider Pierre uncivilized and cumbersome, this very ponderousness stresses his characteristic humbleness. We see his love of entertainment in his ejection from St. Petersburg for over the top partying, and his generousity in his largesse toward companions and colleagues after he is awarded his inheritance.
Pierre, however astute, is not ruled by reason, as his companion Andrew seems to be. Pierre's enthusiastic spurts incidentally cause him harm, as when his sexual interests make him prey to the self-serving and excellent Helene. His foolish escape into the city of Moscow and his ensuing over the top conviction that he is bound to be Napoleon's professional killer demonstrate his accommodation to silly motivations. Yet there is likewise an incredible respectability in Pierre's feelings, and his quest for importance in his life turns into a main topic of the novel. We are to feel that his last marriage to Natasha speaks to the summit of an existence of good and moral questioning.
Andrew Bolkonski - Andrew, however as honorable a spirit as Pierre, contrasts from his companion in ways that make him an exceptionally particular character, and that delineate Tolstoy's philosophy of life. Andrew has an exceptionally savvy and analytical personality, as we find in the competent way he runs his estate. He is committed to his nation, coming back to the war even after almost being killed at Austerlitz, and investing months helping Speranski compose another civil code for Russia. Andrew, however frequently confined, is candidly emotionally honest and willing to look at secrets in himself, as we find in his confirmation in the novel that he is disappointed with marriage to his ethical and dazzling wife, Lise. Be that as it may, Andrew's blemish is a profound one: his separation is a scholarly point of preference, yet a passionate debilitation.
Andrew is free from Pierre's impairing search for the significance of life, yet he is likewise not able to fashion profound and enduring associations with others, and unwilling to pardon their offenses. At the point when Andrew is initially presented, Pierre touches his arm; Andrew intuitively recoils, despising the contact. This physical response mirrors Andrew's failure to be touched by others for the duration of his life. At last, he is a desolate person whom even the affection for Natasha can't spare.
Natasha Rostova - she is one of Tolstoy's most terrific manifestations, a representation of happy vitality and the capacity to experience life completely and intensely. The direct opposite of Helene Kuragina, her possible spouse's first wife, Natasha is as enthusiastic and unconstrained as Helene is stony and conspiring. From early stages to adulthood, Natasha charms everybody who meets her, from the visitors of the Rostovs who witness her confused remarks about her doll, to Andrew Bolkonski, Anatole Kuragin, and lastly Pierre Bezukhov. Yet, in spite of her charms, Natasha never appears to be a tease plotting for men's considerations.
Whether she is running and laughing in the fields or just sitting in a musical drama box, Natasha rouses desire basically by acting naturally, by existing in her own exceptional way. Her simplicity does once in a while makes her guileless, as when she misconstrues her transitory energy for Anatole and makes ridiculous arrangements to run off with him. Yet, Natasha atones her blunder with an earnestness that evokes absolution even from the wronged Andrew on his deathbed. Natasha's otherworldly advancement is not as philosophical or scholarly as Pierre's, but rather it is just as significant. She changes fundamentally before the end of the novel, developing savvy in a way that makes her Pierre's equal.
General Kutuzov - the administrator of the Russian forces against Napoleon, Kutuzov is old, he is fat, and he is one-eyed—hardly the model picture of military authority. Yet Kutuzov is a splendid strategist and a honed scholar of human instinct, and Tolstoy's appreciation for him is more noteworthy than for any other government functionary among the French or Russians—more prominent even than his admiration for the to some degree oblivious Tsar Alexander. Kutuzov is unassuming and profound, in sharp differentiation to the vain and self-retained Napoleon with his cool utilization of rationale.
After the Battle of Borodino, Kutuzov stops at a congregation parade and stoops in appreciation to a heavenly symbol, showing a modesty of which Napoleon absolutely would be unfit. Kutuzov is inspired by individual conviction as opposed to the yearning for acknowledgment, which makes his last mistake just a minor catastrophe for him. Though Napoleon is constantly persuaded of being completely right, Kutuzov is more reasonable and careful about the condition of things. He hesitates to pronounce a Russian triumph at Borodino regardless of the undeniable points of interest of doing as such, somewhat in light of the fact that the encounters of his long profession have demonstrated that the truth is constantly more mind boggling than one at first considers. Such consciousness of the riddles of presence win Kutuzov our - and Tolstoy's - endorsement.
Platon Karataev - in spite of the fact that Platon Karataev shows up in a couple of sections of this colossal novel, he has won a reverence from readers and commentators that has persisted from the distribution of War and Peace through the Soviet period and up to the present day. One of only a handful of workers in the novel to whom Tolstoy gives profound, individualized portrayal, Platon speaks to Tolstoy's ideals of the basic, invigorating logic of the Russian proletariat (Platon is the Russian name for Plato, the Greek thinker).
Platon lives at the time, neglectful of the past and careless without bounds, to the degree that he can't much recall what he said a couple of minutes prior. His affinity for all creatures, like the little pooch going with the Russian political detainees, proposes that he too lives by intuition as opposed to by reason. He gushes Russian adages that resonate with insight. By and large, this portrayal of an uncommonly cheerful individual stands out forcefully from Pierre, who has been discouraged and mistaken for many sections when he meets Platon. Platon therefore shows up as a sort of answer to Pierre's long profound questionings, living evidence that the human quest for happiness can be an effective one.
Leo Tolstoy was a Russian novelist born in 1828. A profound social and moral thinker, Tolstoy was one of the greatest writers of realistic fiction during his time. The son of a nobleman landowner, Tolstoy was orphaned at the age of 9 and taught mainly by tutors from countries like Germany and France. At the young age of 16, he enrolled in Kazan University but quickly became dissatisfied with his studies and dropped out soon after. After a brief, futile attempt to improve the conditions of the serfs on his estate, he plunged into the dissipations of Moscow's high society.
In 1851, Tolstoy joined his brother's regiment at the Caucasus, where he first met with cossacks. He later portrayed the natural cossacks life with sympathy and poetic realism in his novel 'The Cossacks', published in 1863. Tolstoy completed two autobiographical novels during his time in the regiment and the works received instant acclaim.
Back in Saint Petersburg (now Leningrad) Tolstoy became interested in the education of peasants and started a local elementary school that fostered progressive education.
In 1862 he married 18 year old Sofya Andreyevna Bers, a member of a cultured Moscow family. In the next 15 years he raised a large family, ultimately having 19 children. During this time he also managed his estate and wrote his two most famous novels, War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877).
In the uniquely candid powerful novel Confession, Tolstoy described his spiritual unrest and started his long journey toward moral and social certainty. He found them in two principals of the Christian gospels: love for all human beings and resistance to the forces of evil. From within autocratic Russia, Tolstoy fearlessly attacked social inequality and coercive forms of government and church authority. His didactic essays, translated into many different languages, won hearts in many countries and from all walks of life, many of whom visited him in Russia seeking advice.
At the age of 82, increasingly tormented by the disparity between his teachings, his personal wealth and by endless fights with his wife, Tolstoy walked away from his home late one night. He became ill three days later and died on November 20, 1910 at a remote railway station. At his death he was praised the world over for being a wonderfully moral man. That force and his timeless and universal art continue to provide inspiration today.