Anna Pavlovna Scherer
- A wealthy St. Petersburg society hostess and matchmaker
for the Kuragin family, whose party in 1805
- The large-bodied, ungainly, and socially awkward
illegitimate son of an old Russian grandee. Pierre, educated abroad,
returns to Russia as a misfit. His unexpected inheritance of a large
fortune makes him socially desirable. Pierre is ensnared by the fortune-hunting
Helene Kuragina, whose eventual deception leaves him depressed and
confused, spurring a spiritual odyssey that spans the novel. Pierre eventually
marries Natasha Rostova.
in-depth analysis of Pierre Bezukhov.
- The intelligent, disciplined, and ambitious son of
the retired military commander Prince Bolkonski. Andrew is coldly
analytical and resistant to flights of emotion. Lonely after the
death of his wife, Lise, he falls in love with Natasha, but is unable
to forgive her momentary passion for Anatole.
in-depth analysis of Andrew Bolkonski.
- Andrew’s angelic wife, who dies in childbirth.
- Andrew’s father, a stodgy and old-fashioned recluse
who lives in the country after his retirement from the army and
subsequent retreat from social life. The old prince, cynical about
modern life, is stern and sometimes cruel toward his daughter Mary.
In the war with Napoleon, he returns to active military service, but
dies as the French approach his estate.
- The lonely, plain, and long-suffering daughter of
Prince Bolkonski. Princess Mary cares for her father, enduring his
cruel treatment with Christian forgiveness. In the end, Nicholas
Rostov weds Mary and saves her from an unhappy solitude.
- The French companion of Princess Mary, who lives
with her on the Bolkonski estate. Mademoiselle Bourienne becomes
the object of the old prince’s affections shortly before his death.
- Mary’s friend and pen pal. Julie, an heiress, lives in
Moscow and eventually marries Boris.
Count Ilya Rostov
- A loving, friendly, and financially carefree nobleman
who lives with his large family at Otradnoe, their estate south
of Moscow. The old count piles up debts through luxurious living,
eventually depriving his children of their inheritance—a failing
for which he seeks his children’s forgiveness before he dies.
Countess Natalya Rostova
- Count Rostov’s wife. The countess is as neglectful
of money matters as her husband, maintaining standards of luxury
that prove a burden to her son Nicholas when he supports her after
the count’s death. The death of her youngest son, Petya, deeply affects
the countess, sinking her into a gloom from which she never again
- The lively and irrepressible daughter of the Rostov
family, who charms everyone she meets. Natasha falls in love with
a series of men and then becomes seriously committed to Andrew,
though she ruins the relationship by engaging in a brief tryst with Anatole
Kuragin. Eventually, Natasha marries Pierre and becomes a stout,
in-depth analysis of Natasha Rostova.
- The impetuous, eldest Rostov son, who joins the Russian
forces in 1805
and spends much of the novel
on the front. Nicholas accumulates gambling debts that become burdensome
for his family. However, we see his commitment to his family upon
his father’s death, when he supports his mother and cousin Sonya
on his meager salary while continuing to pay off the family’s debts.
Nicholas eventually marries the heiress Mary, saving his family
from financial ruin.
humble cousin of Natasha and Nicholas, who lives with the Rostovs
as a ward. Sonya and Nicholas were childhood sweethearts, but as
adults, Sonya generously gives up Nicholas so that he can marry
a rich woman and save the Rostov finances.
youngest Rostov son, who begs to join the Russian army. Petya, who
is close to Natasha and beloved by his mother, is killed in partisan
fighting after the French begin their withdrawal from Moscow.
eldest Rostov daughter. Vera is a somewhat cold, unpleasant young
woman, and her only proposal of marriage comes from the officer
Berg, who is candid about his need for her dowry.
- An artificial and untrustworthy Russian nobleman,
and a special friend of Anna Pavlovna. Vasili continually tries
to maneuver his children into lucrative marriages.
- Vasili’s roguish and spendthrift son, who is
on the hunt for a rich wife. Anatole falls for
Natasha Rostova at the opera, causing her rift with Andrew Bolkonski.
- Vasili’s cold, imperious, and beautiful daughter,
who seduces Pierre into marriage, only to take up
with another man immediately. Helene, though
known in social circles as a witty woman, is actually stupid and
- The ugly and undistinguished brother of Helene and
Princess Anna Mikhaylovna Drubetskaya
- A woman from an illustrious old family who is nonetheless
impoverished. Anna Mikhaylovna is dominated by thoughts of securing
a good future for her son Boris. She extracts a promise from Vasili
Kuragin that he will help Boris get an officer’s position in the
- Anna Mikhaylovna’s son, a poor but ambitious friend
of Nicholas Rostov. Boris fights to establish a career for himself,
using connections and his own intelligence and talents. Though he
flirts with the young Natasha, as an adult he seeks a bigger fortune, eventually
marrying an heiress.
handsome Russian army officer and friend of Nicholas. Dolokhov carries
on with Helene, prompting Pierre to challenge him to a duel in which
Pierre nearly kills him.
short, hairy, good-looking friend of Nicholas who accompanies him
to Moscow on home leave and later falls for Sonya. Denisov is later
court-martialed for seizing army food provisions to feed his men.
brilliant liberal advisor to the tsar. Speranski attempts to reform
and modernize the Russian state until his fall from grace.
Russian military commander.
- An old, one-eyed general who leads the Russians
to military success at Borodino, but who falls from favor toward
the end of his life. Kutuzov is characterized by a spirituality
and humility that contrast sharply with Napoleon’s vanity and logic.
in-depth analysis of General Kutuzov.
small, plump, and extremely arrogant French emperor and military
leader who invades Russia. Napoleon embodies self-serving rationalization
and vainglory in the novel, and he is shocked by the French defeat