War and Peace Characters

Instructor: Summer Stewart

Summer has taught creative writing and sciences at the college level. She holds an MFA in Creative writing and a B.A.S. in English and Nutrition

''War and Peace'' by Leo Tolstoy is a dramatic book with dozens of characters. In this lesson, you will learn about Natasha Rostova, Pierre Bezukhov, Andrew Bolkonski, and Nicholas Rostov.


War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy is a book set in Russia during 1805. The book begins with a party in Petersburg and moves through several years as the book progresses. While there are dozens of characters in Tolstoy's War and Peace, this lesson gives you information on Pierre Bezukhov, Andrew Bolkonski, Natasha Rostova, and Nicholas Rostov, as they are prominent characters in the book.

Pierre Bezukhov

The book opens with Pierre Bezukhov at a party in Petersburg. Pierre is a heavyset, awkward, and socially inept man who was educated overseas. He is an illegitimate son who returns to Russia after inheriting his father's wealth.

Throughout the book, Pierre is constantly seeking the answers to philosophical questions about life, love, the human condition.

Pierre undergoes an astonishing transformation in the book. At first, he is wildly out of control, visiting brothels, eloping with the sensual Helene Kuragina, and ending up in prison. These events lead him on a spiritual journey that results in a complete change of his way of life. Ultimately, Pierre realizes that happiness and the meaning of life must come from within, and not from external stimulation. Pierre falls in love with and marries Natasha Rostova.

Andrew Bolkonski

Andrew Bolkonski is the son of retired military commander Prince Bolkonski. Andrew has a cold personality and demonstrates typical behavior of a military son: disciplined and analytical. He is an intellectual thinker and serves as a foil to Pierre because he doesn't act on physical impulses.

Bolkonski doesn't demonstrate any emotion, but is very lonely because his wife Lise died. Andrew falls in love with Natasha, but they do not stay together because she has a brief affair with Anatole Kuragin.

Natasha Rostova

Natasha Rostova is a wild and boisterous young woman who is admired by all of the men who meet her. Like Pierre, Natasha experiences a stunning transformation from the beginning to the end of the book. At the beginning of the book, Natasha is a willful, uncontrollable teenager. She falls in love with several men, including Andrew Bolkonski and Anatole Kuragin. By the end of the novel, Natasha has transformed into an intelligent woman married to Pierre Bezukhov and is the mother of four children.

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