Natasha is one of Tolstoy’s grandest creations, a representation of joyful vitality and the ability to experience life fully and boldly. The antithesis of Helene Kuragina, her eventual husband’s first wife, Natasha is as lively and spontaneous as Helene is stony and scheming. From infancy to adulthood, Natasha charms everyone who meets her, from the guests of the Rostovs who witness her unintelligible comments about her doll, to Andrew Bolkonski, Anatole Kuragin, and finally Pierre Bezukhov. Yet, despite her charms, Natasha never comes across as a show-off or a flirt angling for men’s attentions. Whether running in the fields in a yellow dress, singing on her balcony at Otradnoe, or simply sitting in an opera box, Natasha inspires desire simply by being herself, by existing in her own unique way. Her simplicity sometimes makes her naïve, however, as when she misunderstands her momentary passion for Anatole and makes absurd plans to elope with him. But Natasha repents her error with a sincerity that elicits forgiveness even from the wronged Andrew on his deathbed. Natasha’s spiritual development is not as philosophical or bookish as Pierre’s, but it is just as profound. She changes radically by the end of the novel, growing wise in a way that makes her Pierre’s spiritual equal.
More characters from War and Peace
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