Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
for a group?
Get Annual Plans at a discount when you buy 2 or more!
$18.74 /subscription + tax
Subtotal $37.48 + tax
on 2-49 accounts
on 50-99 accounts
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews March 7, 2024
February 29, 2024
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
Annual Plan - Group Discount
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
You’ve successfully purchased a group discount. Your group members can use the joining link below to redeem their group membership. You'll also receive an email with the link.
Members will be prompted to log in or create an account to redeem their group membership.
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
War and Peace or Voyna i mir
Author Lev (Leo) Nikolaevich Tolstoy
Type of work Novel
Genre Historical novel; realist novel; epic
Time and Place written
1863–1869; the estate of Yasnaya
Polyana, near Moscow
Date of first publication
1865–1869 (serial publication)
Publisher M.N. Katkov
Narrator An unnamed, omniscient, detached, third-person narrator
Point of view The anonymous narrator presents facts and inner thoughts
of characters that no single character in the novel could know all
at once. The narrator describes characters’ states of mind, feelings, and
attitudes, as well as practical facts more relevant to a military historian.
He also slides into philosophy in places, most notably in the second
Tone The narrator consistently maintains the impersonal
but sympathetic tone most often used by the European realist novelists
of the mid-nineteenth century. He focuses on facts and feelings
with equal attentiveness, but allows himself few authorial commentaries
on the fates of characters or editorial observations about the story
unfolding. The bulk of his direct authorial appearances are limited
to musings on the philosophy of history sprinkled throughout the
text. Generally, the description of a given scene is carefully detailed,
again in general accordance with literary realism. This detailed
realism underscores a point frequently made in the philosophical sections
of the narrative, which is that little things and little people
matter more than big ideas and great leaders.
Setting (place) Various locations throughout Russia and eastern Europe, including
St. Petersburg, Moscow, Austria, Prussia, the Russian eastern frontier,
Protagonists Pierre Bezukhov; Andrew Bolkonski; Natasha Rostova;
General Kutuzov; Mary Bolkonskaya; Nicholas Rostov
Major Conflict Napoleon’s French forces triumphantly spread across
Europe and threaten the balance of power that includes Russia; Russia responds
by declaring war against France and fighting at the decisive Battle
of Borodino. On the level of individual characters, Pierre, Andrew,
Mary, Nicholas, and Natasha all grope their way through life while
struggling to maintain their ideals, vitality, and love for humanity
in the face of loss, sadness, and disillusionment.
rising action Napoleon’s conquests in western Europe, which alarm
Russians with a threat of invasion; Pierre’s inheritance, leaving
him prey to schemers such as Helene Kuragina, who prompt his search
for wisdom; Natasha’s growth to womanhood, forcing her to choose
a fitting mate; the testing of Mary’s faith by a cruel world; the
testing of Nicholas’s heroic impulses by the limitations of his life;
Andrew’s loneliness after his wife's death, leading him to reevaluate
the purpose of his life.
climax The Russian troops’ showdown with the French at the
decisive Battle of Borodino; Pierre’s meeting with Platon Karataev,
who infuses him with wisdom; Natasha’s parting with Andrew and bonding
with Pierre; Mary’s parting with her father and meeting with Nicholas
falling action The Russian victory at Borodino; the subsequent French withdrawal
from Russia; the return to normalcy and everyday life for the Russians;
Pierre’s marriage to Natasha; Nicholas’s marriage to Mary
Themes The irrationality of human motives; the search for
the meaning of life; the limitations of leadership
Motifs Inexplicable love; financial loss; death as a revelation
Symbols The Battle of Borodino; the French occupation of Moscow; Nicholas’s
rebuilding of Bald Hills
Foreshadowing Anna Pavlovna’s prophecy of war against Napoleon later
comes true when war is declared; Sonya’s vision of Andrew lying
down foreshadows Andrew’s lying wounded on the field of Austerlitz and
then lying as an invalid in the Rostov home; Natasha’s first appearance
with a doll foreshadows her later role as a mother.
Ace your assignments with our guide to War and Peace!