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olichka
02-07-2007, 07:28 PM
This question has already been asked before by lostdog on a thread " Nikolay in War and Peace " in a "Threads in Forum" category of the sub-forum on Tolstoy, but no-one except me replied, so I decided to post it here :

Do you think she would have made a good marriage with Nikolay ?

Should she have married Dolokhov when he proposed to her ?

bazarov
02-08-2007, 04:20 AM
I answered...LET'S CONTINUE thread.

Fairy Wilbury
02-21-2007, 05:02 PM
Though Dolokhov is my favorite character there (so I would prefer him getting what he wants;) ), this pair would be a terrible mistake for both of them. Sophia is a kind of woman, for whom morality is the most important thing. Dolokhov's values are totally oposite - strength, fearless and determination. They would never understand each other. He surely couldn't share his life with a woman of such principles. And she would never see any good features of his nature, so she would always only criticise him.

olichka
02-21-2007, 05:51 PM
I guess it's a controversial issue. However, considering how Sonya's life turned out : boring, empty life as an old maid, who's living as an appendage to other people's lives and who doesn't even receive decent gratitude for her help, she perhaps should have given Dolokhov a go.

Although he is a volatile, cruel man, he does love those that are close to him with such passionate loyalty, that he's ready to sacrifice himself for them. He's a most tender son and a good brother to a hunchback sister. So I think he would be a loyal and supportive husband, particularly considering how much he loves Sonya.

I do agree with you that because of her kindness and morality, Sonya would have disapproved of Dolokhov, but perhaps she could have also softened him ?

But I also think that she, being timid and shy, was probably also quite scared of him and overwhelmed by his sensuality and would find him difficult to live with.

But then she would have a husband, her own home, children and be able to occupy herself with their upbringing, thus leading a meaningful life.

Fairy Wilbury
02-21-2007, 08:29 PM
Actually I don't think she could soften him... 'Cause they would "speak different languages" and "live in different demensions". As for Dolokhov, most likely, he would be disappointed by her demands on him, and although he would still love her, he would not change himself (I don't think anybody could totally change it's values). So there would be a complete misunderstanding between them.
And by the way, she would never love such a person as Dolokhov, so their relations wouldn't be equal..
And I think he loved not her, but some kind of the image, that he had.. 'cause he couldn't have loved her morality - it's not what he values.
But generally speaking, those relations are worse for him than for her. He would have nothing to set against her morality, 'cause he is good at war, but he is no specialist in human relations; and he would love her, but she wouldn't...

olichka
02-22-2007, 12:09 PM
I read " War and Peace " a really long time ago, so I don't remember all the details ( I guess I would have to check the passages about Sonya and Dolokhov and their respective characters), but I remember Dolokhov's view on women as explained to Rostov : he considered all women venal and faithless creatures who would sell themselves out to anyone if it's convenient to them, not having met any who was pure and loyal. He further elaborated that if he ever met such woman, he would give his life and soul for her.

I guess he considered Sonya such a woman, from his observation of her devotion to Rostov and the entire Rostov family. And he was right--after all, Sonya did refuse him, out of her loyalty to Nikolay, even though he could not promise with certainty that he would marry her, nor indicated in any way that he was committed to her. (Remember, that after his return from the war, he spent a lot of time with his buddies and gave very little attention to Sonya ). As well, from his observation of her behaviour to Rostov's family, Dolokhov must have deduced that she would also be a caring and loving wife, in addition to being loyal.

The need for a faithful/loving wife is an indication of a need for love, caring and attention, thus hinting at a warmth and sensitivity ( and perhaps a possibility that she could effect positive changes in him ? Perhaps what he needed was a good, loving, prudent woman to break his habits of gambling, womanizing and his cruelty to his friends ? It's possible that those habits were acquired through lack of his own home and hearth and of a steadying and humanizing influence of a wife. Remember that his mother was old and that his sister was a hunchback, both requiring care, but not able to provide it for him ). With his readiness to give his life and soul for such a woman, it indicates that there would be reciprocity in the marriage.

Off course, a question still remains whether Sonya would love him. However, it would have been better for her if she had tried, for her life as an old maid turned out a lot worse than her life with Dolokhov would have. Is being a penniless old maid with no purpose or occupation in life, nor appreciation or respect from others a better fate ? Remember a scene at Nikolay's in the Epiologue where Sonya is sitting by the samovar with a bored and empty look on her face, pouring tea out for everyone like some servant ? At least, even if she didn't love Dolokhov, she'd be pouring tea out for her own family and guests in her own house.

At the very worst, even if they didn't see eye-to-eye, they could always end up leading separate lives, like so many married people at that time ( remember Boris's self-consolation that he could always see Julie as little as possible ? ). But she would have had children from the marriage, her own home and power and influence in that sphere of life. Not to mention the fact that she would have had respectability as a married woman, and being married to a war hero at that ( remember Dolokhov taking an active part in War of 1812 as a leader of a partisan group ? ). As well, he was actually a very handsome man, so what would be so tragic to be married to a man like that ? I would say that it would be a better fate than Anna Karenina's, for not only didn't she love or respect her husband, but she was married to a much older and unattractive man, by whom she was repulsed physically !

On the other hand, personally I think that Sonya refused Dolokhov because she, being shy, timid and unsexual found the prospect of being physically intimate with such a formidable and virile man quite daunting. (Compared to Dolokhov, Nikolay is very tame and straitlaced ). In this respect, according to Tolstoy, she's demonstrating a lack of life-force and energy ( as opposed to Natasha who is passionate ).

olichka
02-22-2007, 02:30 PM
As a matter of fact, Tolstoy considered Sonya's choice in life as wrong ( and I agree with him !). His description of her miserable spinsterhood as opposed to Natasha's exuberant fruitfulness proves that point. According to Tolstoy's philosophy, while there's life, there's happiness, and one should try to find happiness in any situation (although certainly not Sonya's spinsterhood ). Sonya's lifestyle in the Epilogue is actually a form of death : total absence of any joy, fulfillment or personal gains; in fact, a total waste of life !!!

bazarov
02-22-2007, 03:43 PM
From Dolohov's words, I think he would never find any happiness with Sonya or any other women, and he surely didn't see her like a woman to die for. It was his ideal, but the question is how real he was?
Olichka, I think you're little too harsh on Sonya. I really respect her decision, what do you mean by ''they could live separate lives''. What kind of family is that? She could have a nice husband, yes maybe; but she never stoped loving Nikolai and that was really nice from her. I don't see her like a servant to Rostov family, I would say it's more like act of love to them because of everything they have made for her in all those years but in the other hand, I don't understand how could she stay with them after Lady Rostov said to her to leave Nikolai??? Where was her pride??? Like she stopped to sense things around her...
Welcome Fairy Wilbury,!
I think Dolohov was too strong individual for Sonya and they would never be happy.

olichka
02-22-2007, 05:33 PM
Sorry, didn't mean to be harsh on Sonya. On the contrary, I just feel really bad for her. What I meant was that she could have at least fulfilled herself as a mother and a woman : after all, she's so good at fussing over Rostovs' kids, she might as well have had her own. She was an intelligent, well-educated, prudent woman and would have raised her children very well. She was also a very pretty girl, and it's too bad that her looks were for nothing ! It's just a sense of wasted potential that bothers me in this situation as well as humiliations to which she is subjected by the Rostovs.

As to performing all these duties for the Rostovs out of gratitude, that particular aspect may not be servitude, but how are the Rostovs repaying her ? Tolstoy mentions how everything she does is accepted with too little acknowledgement and gratitude. Isn't that demeaning ? Even if they did offer her a home, they can still show gratitude and appreciation, after all, she's their cousin, not their maid !

She gets no respect from Princess Marya who's at times hostile towards her and even from her former close friend Natasha :discussing her, they compare her " pityingly " to a fruitless raspberry bloom ! Isn't that demeaning ?

As to it being really poetic that she still loves Nikolay, it certainly is that, but you yourself have said that staying with the family after they forbade her to marry Nikolay just shows total lack of pride. And particularly to be there and be a witness to the fruits of his relationship with Marya ( Tolstoy does mention Sonya casting glances at the pregnant Marya ) is total self-abnegation and self-humiliation. I should think that being married to Dolokhov would be a lot more dignified. You're right that she seems to have lost a capacity for sensitivity which just proves once again that she wasn't really living !

Perhaps she did make a good decision if she didn't care for him, and perhaps he would have been too strong a personality for her, but then she should not have stayed on in the Rostov family... Maybe becoming a nun would have been a much more dignified, respectable alternative...( Moving in with some other bunch of relatives would put her in a humiliating position of another kind, I think ).


Also, some questions : how do you know that he didn't consider her a woman " to die for " ? After all, she is a very pretty and graceful girl, and Tolstoy does describe Dolokhov as ogling her in such an ardent manner, that not only Sonya, but the countess and even Natasha turn beet-red ? He was certainly vindictive towards Nikolay, making him lose all that money.

With regard to their leading separate lives : sure, it's not much of a family, but a lot of people at that time had similar arrangements, with women devoting themselves entirely to their children. Look at Dolly from " Anna K. "---sure, it's not ideal, and actually quite bitter, but at least she has a life of her own. So does Anna Karenina for that matter. Besides, what kind of family does Sonya have, anyways---a surrogate one ? in love with someone else's husband ?

Anyways, I think that staying loyal to a married Nikolay, however romantic and poetic it may be, is not worth the sacrifice of a much fuller, even if an imperfect life. It only looks good in the novels.

bazarov
02-23-2007, 07:28 AM
Sorry, didn't mean to be harsh on Sonya. On the contrary, I just feel really bad for her. OK, no need to apologize:lol:


As to performing all these duties for the Rostovs out of gratitude, that particular aspect may not be servitude, but how are the Rostovs repaying her ? Tolstoy mentions how everything she does is accepted with too little acknowledgement and gratitude. Isn't that demeaning ? Even if they did offer her a home, they can still show gratitude and appreciation, after all, she's their cousin, not their maid !

I also think that they treated her very badly, surely she deserved more, but the question is did she wanted or needed anything more? Normally, everybody would, but it looks like she didn't...I don't like that Marya, I think she treated her badly because she was aware that Nikolai probably cares for Sonya then for her. After all, he married her only because of money!



Perhaps she did make a good decision if she didn't care for him, and perhaps he would have been too strong a personality for her, but then she should not have stayed on in the Rostov family... Maybe becoming a nun would have been a much more dignified, respectable alternative...( Moving in with some other bunch of relatives would put her in a humiliating position of another kind, I think ).
I agree with you, she should leave Rostov family, if not with Dolohov, then alone, maybe somebody else would appear in her life, monastery isn't the only option.


Also, some questions : how do you know that he didn't consider her a woman " to die for " ? After all, she is a very pretty and graceful girl, and Tolstoy does describe Dolokhov as ogling her in such an ardent manner, that not only Sonya, but the countess and even Natasha turn beet-red ? He was certainly vindictive towards Nikolay, making him lose all that money.

I think she was too normal and simple for him, maybe I'm wrong...



With regard to their leading separate lives : sure, it's not much of a family, but a lot of people at that time had similar arrangements, with women devoting themselves entirely to their children. Look at Dolly from " Anna K. "---sure, it's not ideal, and actually quite bitter, but at least she has a life of her own. So does Anna Karenina for that matter. Besides, what kind of family does Sonya have, anyways---a surrogate one ? in love with someone else's husband ?

Yes, but Dolly and Anna loved their husbands in the moment of marriage, Dolly would never leave Stiva if only he had been faithful. I think it's better to be alone then to be with anybody...


Anyways, I think that staying loyal to a married Nikolay, however romantic and poetic it may be, is not worth the sacrifice of a much fuller, even if an imperfect life. It only looks good in the novels.
It seems to me more like a miss of self-respect then a great love.

Fairy Wilbury
02-24-2007, 03:29 PM
I think she was too normal and simple for him


That is the very true.. He does not need a woman with high morality and down-to-earth attitude to life. He needs ethereal creature, who would love him with all her heart, whom he would consider as hurtable, but beautiful woman. He has to see that this woman needs his defense and admires him for his strong character, his manhood, his bravery, but never tries to blame him for "cruelity".

that is his attitude for life:

"I don't care a straw about anyone but those I love; but those I love, I love so that I would give my life for them, and the others I'd throttle if they stood in my way."

That's not bad or wrong and he is worth a woman who would understand and string along that. Sonya would never understand that, so she would try to change him, if they had lived together.. That won't bring him hapiness, 'cause there will be no understanding between them.

bazarov
02-25-2007, 05:38 AM
That is the very true.. He does not need a woman with high morality and down-to-earth attitude to life. He needs ethereal creature, who would love him with all her heart, whom he would consider as hurtable, but beautiful woman. He has to see that this woman needs his defense and admires him for his strong character, his manhood, his bravery, but never tries to blame him for "cruelity".

that is his attitude for life:

"I don't care a straw about anyone but those I love; but those I love, I love so that I would give my life for them, and the others I'd throttle if they stood in my way."

That's not bad or wrong and he is worth a woman who would understand and string along that. Sonya would never understand that, so she would try to change him, if they had lived together.. That won't bring him hapiness, 'cause there will be no understanding between them.

Well said!

mrsrobinson
03-30-2007, 06:56 AM
As much fun as conjecture can be (hence the vast web of fanfiction based on many a cult classic) I think this thread is innappropriate for this particular novel.
I've read war and peace in its entirety several times and I frequently return to bits and pieces of it when I am between books or merely nostalgic. One of the most important themes in W&P is that there is no point in trying to divine the path a person may have followed had they made a difdferent choice. On the contrary, Tolstoy reiterates the inevitability of all that has happened and the utter irrelevence of contemplating "what-ifs"
Furthermore, it is natural for every character to behave as they do. There are no inconsistencies in any character in War and Peace, I suspect resulting from a deep understanding of human nature on the part of Tolstoy as well as much observation of men and women in his society.
Thus I don't think this question is worth discussing.

Also, the idea that Tolstoy intended that Sonya's life was wasted because she was not married is categorically untrue. He does clearly emphasize the sanctity of family love, but his definition of family includes not merely traditional nuclear families, but the "family" created by the web of love and loyalty developed through all the characters' respective relationships. (ie the lack of familial feeling demonstrative in the Kuragins' blood and marital relationships versus the fraternal love between the unrelated parties, Pierre and Prince Andre) To say that "Tolstoy clearly believed she chose the wrong path" is simply not well supported.

conniekat8
04-11-2007, 02:06 PM
I agreewith Mrs. Robinson's post wholeheartedly!!!

For one, Tolstoy is very good at describing how his characters's destiny is determined partially by their choices, and partially by circumstances they find themselves in...

If one pays close attention to the existentialist contemplation at the tail end of the epilogue, where Tolstoy talks of existance of free will, and how free it really is, one will find that this is applicable not only to politics and to history, but to his characters lives too.

The other thought that comes to mind is about the value of Sonya's exisatance as described in the book. In the extended family such as theirs Sonya's value is similar to those of the Daugterov in the army. Does what she is told, takes care of things, much like a small but invaluable cog in the machine. Instead of the "war machine" the machine she supports is the family.

Unfortunately, for Dughterov and for Sonya, and as it is demonstrated in this thread too, most people tend to focus on the glitzy and main roles. Value and a necessity of existance of supporting roles is grossly undervalued.

In the book there's a number of lives that, perhaps didn't achieve their full potential, in the traditional sense, but in no way were their lives lost or insignificant.

olichka
04-18-2007, 06:43 PM
I agreewith Mrs. Robinson's post wholeheartedly!!!

For one, Tolstoy is very good at describing how his characters's destiny is determined partially by their choices, and partially by circumstances they find themselves in...

If one pays close attention to the existentialist contemplation at the tail end of the epilogue, where Tolstoy talks of existance of free will, and how free it really is, one will find that this is applicable not only to politics and to history, but to his characters lives too.

The other thought that comes to mind is about the value of Sonya's exisatance as described in the book. In the extended family such as theirs Sonya's value is similar to those of the Daugterov in the army. Does what she is told, takes care of things, much like a small but invaluable cog in the machine. Instead of the "war machine" the machine she supports is the family.

Unfortunately, for Dughterov and for Sonya, and as it is demonstrated in this thread too, most people tend to focus on the glitzy and main roles. Value and a necessity of existance of supporting roles is grossly undervalued.

In the book there's a number of lives that, perhaps didn't achieve their full potential, in the traditional sense, but in no way were their lives lost or insignificant.


You make a good point. However, why is Tolstoy then describing Sonya sitting with a bored look by the samovar ? Why is he saying that her help is received with too little gratitude ? Why are Natasha and Marya pitiying her, comparing her to a fruitless raspberry blossom ?

Also, who else are you referring to when saying their life didn't reach their full potential, but, nevertheless, their lives weren't lost ? Is Prince Andrey one of those people ?

I'd like some to hear some insights from you with regard to this character's unrealized potential and the reasons for it.

olichka
04-18-2007, 06:59 PM
As much fun as conjecture can be (hence the vast web of fanfiction based on many a cult classic) I think this thread is innappropriate for this particular novel.
I've read war and peace in its entirety several times and I frequently return to bits and pieces of it when I am between books or merely nostalgic. One of the most important themes in W&P is that there is no point in trying to divine the path a person may have followed had they made a difdferent choice. On the contrary, Tolstoy reiterates the inevitability of all that has happened and the utter irrelevence of contemplating "what-ifs"
Furthermore, it is natural for every character to behave as they do. There are no inconsistencies in any character in War and Peace, I suspect resulting from a deep understanding of human nature on the part of Tolstoy as well as much observation of men and women in his society.
Thus I don't think this question is worth discussing.

Also, the idea that Tolstoy intended that Sonya's life was wasted because she was not married is categorically untrue. He does clearly emphasize the sanctity of family love, but his definition of family includes not merely traditional nuclear families, but the "family" created by the web of love and loyalty developed through all the characters' respective relationships. (ie the lack of familial feeling demonstrative in the Kuragins' blood and marital relationships versus the fraternal love between the unrelated parties, Pierre and Prince Andre) To say that "Tolstoy clearly believed she chose the wrong path" is simply not well supported.


That's true, Tolstoy's definition of family is not just the traditional nuclear family, as demonstrated in his earlier works " Childhood ", " Youth ", etc. However, in these earlier works, which are also autobiographical, he is describing his own feelings of comfort and gratitude at having unmarried aunts in the family. To him, these aunts were of value. However, do we know how these aunts themselves felt ?

Why is he describing Sonya as bored and unappreciated then ? She may be an important part of the family, but her existence is still subordinate and even humiliating.

conniekat8
04-19-2007, 04:05 PM
You make a good point. However, why is Tolstoy then describing Sonya sitting with a bored look by the samovar ? Why is he saying that her help is received with too little gratitude ? Why are Natasha and Marya pitiying her, comparing her to a fruitless raspberry blossom ?

Also, who else are you referring to when saying their life didn't reach their full potential, but, nevertheless, their lives weren't lost ? Is Prince Andrey one of those people ?

I'd like some to hear some insights from you with regard to this character's unrealized potential and the reasons for it.


Good questions you ask here.
here are my thoughts for Sonya's boredom, and for her work not recieving the gratitude it deserves and being pitied etc...
Even though her role is a necessary one in life, in general, some of those roles do not allow indioviduals to develop their self esteem and self efficacy (I think as Maslow calls it in hierarchy of human needs) to it's fullest, or even to that of Princess Maria or Natasha.

Unfulfiled lives, even though I don't consider them, wasted do carry a lot of hardships. Sonya, probably in order to reinforce her security and value within the family took on somewhat a martyr like role, and secured her position within the famuly, but at the sacrifice of her fuller personal development of other kinds.
What I think Tolstoy depicts very realistically that when we overdo humility, or overdo any aspect of our personality, it hinders development of other facets. Sonya was so selfless that even though she contributed to the family, she also allowed herself to be trampled, and even encouraged it.

Most people, even if unable to put their finger on it and describe what they're feeling, can sense when someone doesn't value themselves, and it prevents us from valuing them and getting closer to them. If Sonya had learned to value herself more, somewhere along the way, she would have probably been more attractive to Nikolay. But, that would require some serious learning and 'behavioral' change, therapy of today. Back in those days, personal emotional development was mostly left to chance and circumstance. Given Sonyas chance and circumstance, she could not have developed much differently then she has.

Now, does not securing a husband and having a child or having some regrets or unfulfiled desires and having longings make one's life of no value. That I don't believe. Being of no value, to me, would me that if she didn't exist, things would have worked out the same. Within the book, this is nowhere near true. Without Sonya, lot of more develped characters probably wouldn't have developed, or the family that she stayed with perhaps wouldn't have stayed together.

About pity for Sonya, Maria and Natasha may nave seen and recognized Sonyas longings, and perhaps even disrespected her life choices in some small form (where tolstoy says how it was hard for people to like sonya, it's hard for us to like people whom don't respect themselves). Another component to that would be that to a degree Natasha and Maria were assuming and projecting that what they desired in life is the same thing that Sonya was desiring. Nowdays too many people make the same sort of an assumption when trying to decide on a value another individual. We tend to think that what is interesting and important to us is or should be interesting and important to them, and make conclusions accordingly.

I'm sorry if above is little jumbled up, I'm trying to say a lot of what I'm thinking about in a short amount of time.

About prince Andrey, he too ended up not reaching higher levels of self efficacy, because of not letting himself get too close to people. Again, a combination of chance, upbringing, emotional makeup and circumstances. But, without him, several of the characters, like Pierre, Natasha, Nikolay and princess Maria could have fallen short of their fulfilments.

For example, without Andrey and his impact on natasha's life, Natasha may have developed to be more like Pierre's first wife, which she was a little bit on her way of becoming. Without Andrey, prioncess maria may have not have had the courage to accept and be interested in Nikolay... Princess Maria and Sonya have a lot of parallels in personality characteristics, but living in different circumstances, and having little different emotional support to develop more self value.

Andrey sort of fell victim of his choices, but not without making an impact. For example, when he was offered a safer post, rather then going into battle, he chose battle saying that he is more needed there. Yes, people like him were needed in the battlefont too, but, also people like him were needed at the helm too. Andrey could have gone either way and made an impact, but he made a choice to stay father away from the political and circumstances needing more emotional finesse... in large due to his personality. So, even though he made impact among his men, he also met his end.

With his like of distance and detachment, as much as I like Prince Andrey's character, long term, his and Natasha's personality wouldn't have been a good match. Natasha wanting and 'living for' a close knit family, and Prince Andrey cherishing his space, freedom and distance, it is likely that they would have drifted apart pretty quickly, a lot like Andrey and his first wife.

But, at the time they were infatuate with one another, Andrey and Natasha were exactly what each of them needed to progress. Andrey for some revived interest in life. Natasha needed maturing... and so did Pierre, in order to become interesting to Natasha.

Anyway, rather then determining value or no value, it is more interesting for me to see the interplay of characters and how they each affect one another. Almost as a fairly in depth analisys of the old saying 'everything happens for a reason'

conniekat8
04-19-2007, 04:16 PM
Why is he describing Sonya as bored and unappreciated then ? She may be an important part of the family, but her existence is still subordinate and even humiliating.


LEts look at it in an oversimplified way... When I wash dishes, I'm bored out of my mind, hate doing it, don't feel appreciated... But the act of washing dishes and having clean and sanitary sink is certainly of value.

Not everything that is of value is fun and exciting or glamorous.
And a lot of fun, glamorous and exciting things are of a lot of value... like Natasha's potential eloper (can't recall his name this very minute).

Why is Sonya unappreciated... most of us fail to appreciate a lot of things and people worth appreciation. Why, lack of time, lack of interest, preoccupation with self.... this is just why self appreciation is so important. If one doesn't value themselves, they're not likely to find it elsewhere.
Those whom value themselves end up projecting an aura of satisfaction that so many people long for, and that makes them interesting to others. Most fairly balanced people like to associate themselves with those whom will enrich their emotional and spiritual existence, and tend to keep distance from those whom theu sense will become a drain.

Also, martyrdom is a two edged sword, on one side it helps many people, on the other hand a lot of those whom get in contact with it end up feeling guilty for not making a bigger sacrifice themselves. Especially since for most people it's vary difficult to find balance between give and thake, between all of our needs and feelings. We don't like to be around something that may make us thing we're failing in some way. Especially those 'society' people that Tolstoy describes, whom either think of themselves or their social position demands that they portray themselves as above the average human fallability.

olichka
04-24-2007, 08:11 PM
About prince Andrey, he too ended up not reaching higher levels of self efficacy, because of not letting himself get too close to people. Again, a combination of chance, upbringing, emotional makeup and circumstances. But, without him, several of the characters, like Pierre, Natasha, Nikolay and princess Maria could have fallen short of their fulfilments.

For example, without Andrey and his impact on natasha's life, Natasha may have developed to be more like Pierre's first wife, which she was a little bit on her way of becoming. Without Andrey, prioncess maria may have not have had the courage to accept and be interested in Nikolay... Princess Maria and Sonya have a lot of parallels in personality characteristics, but living in different circumstances, and having little different emotional support to develop more self value.

Andrey sort of fell victim of his choices, but not without making an impact. For example, when he was offered a safer post, rather then going into battle, he chose battle saying that he is more needed there. Yes, people like him were needed in the battlefont too, but, also people like him were needed at the helm too. Andrey could have gone either way and made an impact, but he made a choice to stay father away from the political and circumstances needing more emotional finesse... in large due to his personality. So, even though he made impact among his men, he also met his end.

With his like of distance and detachment, as much as I like Prince Andrey's character, long term, his and Natasha's personality wouldn't have been a good match. Natasha wanting and 'living for' a close knit family, and Prince Andrey cherishing his space, freedom and distance, it is likely that they would have drifted apart pretty quickly, a lot like Andrey and his first wife.

But, at the time they were infatuate with one another, Andrey and Natasha were exactly what each of them needed to progress. Andrey for some revived interest in life. Natasha needed maturing... and so did Pierre, in order to become interesting to Natasha.

Anyway, rather then determining value or no value, it is more interesting for me to see the interplay of characters and how they each affect one another. Almost as a fairly in depth analisys of the old saying 'everything happens for a reason'


Thanks a lot for your analysis, I enjoyed it. You make excellent points.

With regard to Natasha developing along Helene's lines, perhaps you're right, if she married a permissive individual ( like Pierre ) without first experiencing a judgemental and unforgiving individual like Prince Andrey. Andrey`s rejection of her illustrated to her that her behaviour with Anatole ( her eloper ) was stupid and immoral which eventually led to self--evaluation and maturity. Remember when after his declaration of love for Natasha Pierre is announcing that he`s leaving for St. Petersburg, and Natasha is disappointed, but then realizes that it`s necessary even if boring and tiresome ? I guess she`s remembering what her reluctance to wait for Andrey led to --- she`s mature enough to realize now that things have to be done right, and that you have to postpone your pleasure and happiness in order to achieve it ?

However, if married to Andrey, then maybe she would have developed more along the lines of Anna Karenina ? Although Andrey was nowhere along the lines of the old-maid dry stick like Karenin, he was still reserved and proper, and Natasha with her intense emotional demands would have found him too self--controlled and distant and been forced to seek out someone like Vronsky --- dashing, passionate and free ?

Also, as you have mentioned and I fully agree with you, Andrey, with his need for space and independence and to be away from his family to pursue his government and society duties, they would have drifted apart even more, forcing Natasha EVENTUALLY, if not right away, to seek out a lover.

Perhaps Andrey needed someone more like Sonya --- grounded, steady and emotionally independent who could tolerate Andrey`s need for independence and distance. But then Sonya was also too ordinary and lacking vitality, so maybe Andrey needed a combination of Sonya and Natasha ?

With regard to Andrey meeting his end as a result of his choice to serve on active duty, perhaps he chose that because he was already entertaining a death wish ? After all, his life already had no meaning at that time-- he was seeeing it as a series of senseless, unfair events.
For the same reason he avoided ducking from the shell --- he hesitated because he wasn`t seeing any point to live any further. After all, he lost his life as a direct result of that particular decision.

Bleakhills
09-03-2007, 09:19 PM
It seems to me that whenever Tolstoy needed a bad guy, he put Dolohov in the scene. It strains even the credulity of fiction readers to believe that one person would be on hand whenever there was evil to be done.

Did Tolstoy come out with an odd number of characters at the end and no one to pair up with Sonia? Sonia was a sweet creature that eveyone took advantage of. I have never been satisfied with the way Tolstoy handled her at the end of the book and sometimes think he just didnt know what to do with her.

olichka
09-04-2007, 01:58 PM
It seems to me that whenever Tolstoy needed a bad guy, he put Dolohov in the scene. It strains even the credulity of fiction readers to believe that one person would be on hand whenever there was evil to be done.

Did Tolstoy come out with an odd number of characters at the end and no one to pair up with Sonia? Sonia was a sweet creature that eveyone took advantage of. I have never been satisfied with the way Tolstoy handled her at the end of the book and sometimes think he just didnt know what to do with her.


I think that Tolstoy just wanted to demonstrate that women who lack life ( like Sonya ) don't attract personal happiness and love and end up old maids. No wonder Sonya is later described as a fruitless raspberry blossom --- attractive, but useless. ( Mind you, this is not my personal opinion of Sonya ).

He kind of contradicts himself, though, by describing Princess Marya who's far from being exuberant, and yet she gets married and gives life to a number of children.

After all, Nikolay's choice of Marya was mostly due to her money, but since the character of Marya was based on Tolstoy's own mother, he had to rationalize that love and Marya's " rich " NATURE was the factor in Nikolay's preference for Marya.

Bleakhills
09-18-2007, 08:06 AM
It does seem that Tolstoy wanted to demonstrate that the kittenish Sonia was too docile to acquire a husband of her own. In the earlier version of the novel that you mentioned, the selflessness of Sonia was to be paried with the identical sacrifice of Prince Andre who survived the war and stood aside to let Natasha marry his friend Pierre. But Tolstoy killled off Andre, and the sacrifice of Sonia does not seem to have any greatness in it. It was difficult for the aristocratic Tolstoy to ascribe to any of his impoverished characters the lofty feelings and motivations he gave to his wealthy educationed ones. This may be one of the reasons he reputiated his great novels in his later life. Another explantion of the characterization of Sonia could be Tolstoy's growing discontent with his wife Sofia(called Sonia). There had been three eligible girls in her family and Tolstoy really should have married the oldest daughter, Liza. Tolstoy chose instead the middle daughter, but throughout his life had a strong affection for the youngest sister, Tatyana, his model for Natasha. It could be that Tolstoy was fictionally expressing his wish for a wife like the vivacious younger sister, instead of the self-sacrificing woman he was wedded to for life, who was burdened with raising his children and running his house.

Lillifen
05-03-2015, 11:55 AM
I loved reading these posts! They were written a long time ago, but perhaps someone will read this? I joined this forum so could add my twopence worth! I finished reading War and Peace today, and I loved it. I was, however, disappointed with Sonya's lot, though I do see why her character ended up in that situation. I really wanted more time spent on her personality, I felt there was a build up to knowing her inner thoughts, and she became really interesting, but then she was neglected. Also, she is capable of fun and spontaneity (if we assume this spontaneity wasn't inevitable!....); remember the Christmas sleigh ride, when she had a moustache and went to the barn on her own, to be joined be Nikolay shortly after? Anyway, in my own personal imaginary 3rd epilogue, she breaks free, becomes a military nurse and rediscovers value in herself through those who value her and meets someone much better than Nikolay. Not Dolokohov. Someone cheerful and straightforward and dedicated; maybe that little man that was in charge of the unguarded battery at Borodino. (Unless he died?) And she makes him better. So you see, she's all sorted really.

Greenstick
06-16-2015, 04:06 PM
This question has already been asked before by lostdog on a thread " Nikolay in War and Peace " in a "Threads in Forum" category of the sub-forum on Tolstoy, but no-one except me replied, so I decided to post it here :

Do you think she would have made a good marriage with Nikolay ?



The only important thing here is what Tolstoy himself thought about this. And his answer was clear: No way! Tolstoy of that period was convinced that financial independence was a must for men of his social class to happy family life. Moreover, without marrying Mary Nikolay would lose any interest for the novel as it almost happened in the period between his father's death, bankruptcy, and that fateful meeting with Mary. This is relevant to the philosophy of the novel and more broadly to the modern condition. Only men who have the freedom of moral choice and can freely choose their path in life are of interest to the novel and for its set of developing characters. Only financially independent men can enjoy this freedom. The rest of mankind, from the common laborer to the impoverished noble on state service like Nikolay are not free to exercise their humanity and cannot form the leading set of novel's characters.

Jackson Richardson
06-17-2015, 04:09 AM
That sounds more like Jane Austen than Tolstoy - that financial security is to be taken into account as much as love for a marriage.

The character who exemplifies the highest moral or spiritual significance is the peasant who looks after Pierre when he is destitute.

I thought for Tolstoy renunciation rather than social position was needed for freedom.

Greenstick
06-17-2015, 01:52 PM
That sounds more like Jane Austen than Tolstoy - that financial security is to be taken into account as much as love for a marriage.


Well, this conviction Tolstoy articulates through Countess Rostov. As we know, at first Nikolay rebels against this low pragmatism because it humiliates his sense of honor and justice. But since all must end well in this novel, Tolstoy makes sure his integrity is not compromised by marrying Mary and leaving Sonya a spinster. Our Lev Nikolaevich even comes up with a neat argument "from nature" which he put's in Natasha's mouth. Something is innately wrong with women like Sonya. They are like "sterile flowers... like strawberry blossoms." And just to make sure that all indeed ends well, Tolstoy aka Natasha adds that Sonya does not have the capacity to feel the way Natasha and Mary do. So yes, Austen and Tolstoy of War & Peace, just as thousands of other writers of their time were very much aware of the difference between men of property and the rest of us. But unlike Austen and other bourgeois artists, Tolstoy was bigger than his class identity, too honest and daring. But then he was not middle class.



The character who exemplifies the highest moral or spiritual significance is the peasant who looks after Pierre when he is destitute.


This is partly true. But Platon Karataev cannot be a novelistic character. He's static, finished, complete... and can serve only as inspiration for the spiritual growth of the developing characters like Pierre who realizes that he cannot and should not become like Platon. Here lies the fundamental problem for Tolstoy and not only for him. He will struggle with it till the day he left Yasnaya Polyna.




I thought for Tolstoy renunciation rather than social position was needed for freedom.

Yes, but not for the Tolstoy of W&P and not for "freedom" but for living in truth.

Thank you for comments!

Jackson Richardson
06-17-2015, 03:21 PM
I'm not sure the Reverend Mr Austen's daughter would call herself "bourgeois" in so far as that means getting your money through trade. The English clergy of her day got their money not as a salary but as the profits of land, just like the gentry to which they belonged.

You are in danger of sounding as if only aristocrats are sufficiently confident to have a sound view of life. Much as I enjoy Nancy Mitford, that does exclude a whole lot of very worthwhile writers.