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 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.
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 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 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.
Natasha can be considered the heroine of the book. Unlike other female characters written in Russian books during this time, Natasha is a strong presence throughout the novel. She is written as a progressive woman who spends time with men outside of the home, has intimate relationships with men prior to marriage, and is a complex thinker.
Nicholas Rostov is Natasha's brother who is an active member of the Russian forces. Throughout most of the book, Nicholas is at war. Nicholas is a burden to the Rostov family as he develops a major gambling habit to the point that his debts threaten the entire family's way of life. Eventually, he saves the family by marrying Mary, a wealthy heiress to pay off the family's debts.
Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace is an incredibly complex book filled with complex characters. The book follows the journeys of Pierre Bezukhov, Andrew Bolkonski, Natasha Rostov, and Nicholas Rostov during the first half of the 19th century in wartime Russia. All four characters have well-developed plot lines, but the plot lines of Pierre Bezukhov and Natasha Rostov are the most transformative.
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