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War and Peace

Leo Tolstoy

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Pierre Bezukhov

Pierre Bezukhov

Pierre Bezukhov

Pierre Bezukhov

Pierre, whom many critics regard as a reflection of Tolstoy himself, attracts our sympathy in his status as an outsider to the Russian upper classes. His simplicity and emotional directness contrast with the artificiality of fakes such as the Kuragins. Though the attendees at Anna Pavlovna’s party consider Pierre uncouth and awkward, this very awkwardness emphasizes his natural unpretentiousness. We see his love of fun in his expulsion from St. Petersburg for excessive partying, and his generosity in his bank-breaking largesse toward friends and acquaintances following his inheritance. Pierre, though intelligent, is not dominated by reason, as his friend Andrew is. Pierre’s emotional spurts occasionally get him into trouble, as when his sexual passions make him prey to the self-serving and beautiful Helene. His madcap escape into the city of Moscow and his subsequent obsessive belief that he is destined to be Napoleon’s assassin show his submission to irrational impulses. Yet there is also a great nobility in Pierre’s emotions, and his search for meaning in his life becomes a central theme of the novel. We feel that his final marriage to Natasha represents the culmination of a life of moral and spiritual questioning.

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