Tolstoy’s Identity In Pierre To Preach His Philosophies

“In burned and devastated Moscow Pierre experienced almost the extreme limits of privation a man can endure; but thanks to his physical strength and health, of which he had till then been unconscious, and thanks especially to the fact that the privations came so gradually that it was impossible to say when they began, he endured his position not only lightly but joyfully. And just at this time he obtained the tranquility and ease of mind he had formerly striven in vain to reach. He had long sought in different ways that tranquility of mind, that inner harmony which had so impressed him in the soldiers at the battle of Borodinó. He had sought it in philanthropy, in Freemasonry, in the dissipations of town life, in wine, in heroic feats of self-sacrifice, and in romantic love for Natásha; he had sought it by reasoning—and all these quests and experiments had failed him. And now without thinking about it he had found that peace and inner harmony only through the horror of death, through privation, and through what he recognized in Karatáev.” (Volume 4 Chapter 12).

The quote above is representative of Pierre’s epiphany moment where he realizes all his hardships are for the better. This scene develops broadly into Tolstoy’s personal search for meaning, as Tolstoy identifies himself heavily with Pierre in War and Peace. Tolstoy chooses to develop Pierre throughout the novel, to teach and tell readers his personal philosophy of life that is seen from Pierre’s perspective. Tolstoy uses War and Peace as a vessel to preach his philosophies and his opinions about the world around him to the audience of the book in addition to telling a masterpiece story.

Pierre is not the only person he uses for this purpose; we see many instances in many of the characters where they represent some aspect of Tolstoy’s opinions of the world around him. From Andrei’s first battle where he is left staring at the sky, to his criticisms of all things French in the novel; especially Napoleon and how historians represent him. This is evident in the scene after Napoleon saves Andrei “Looking into Napoleon’s eyes Prince Andrei thought of the insignificance of greatness, the unimportance of life which no one could understand”. However, the rest of this paper focuses on Pierre and his relationship with Tolstoy and his philosophies.

Tolstoy uses his influence as a popular writer to preach his philosophies in a way that the public would consume at a much higher rate than that of other contemporary philosophers. Being a popular writer who would have sold his work whether it is philosophical or not. Gives Tolstoy an advantage on spreading his ideas, because typically philosophers are not the most popular people in society.

Throughout Tolstoy’s novel: War and Peace, Pierre Bezukhov is one of the most dynamic characters. He begins as an unbeknownst heir to Count Bezukhovs’s fortune. As a known troublemaker from a foreign school with no purpose or drive. It can be heard during a gossip session during a soiree “The police tried to interfere, and what did the young men do? They tied a policeman and the bear back to back and put the bear into the Moyka Canal. And there was the bear swimming about with the policeman on his back!” (Volume 1 Chapter 10). To a well-respected member of society who is content with life later in the book. Pierre is the character that shows the most development in the story.

Tolstoy uses Pierre to describe his view on how one should live life if they want to be happy and morally sound. This is evident when Pierre looks back on his prison experience while talking to Natasha ““People speak of misfortunes and sufferings,” remarked Pierre, “but if at this moment I were asked: ‘Would you rather be what you were before you were taken prisoner or go through all this again?’ then for heaven’s sake let me again have captivity and horseflesh! We imagine that when we are thrown out of our usual ruts all is lost, but it is only then that what is new and good begins. While there is life there is happiness. There is much, much before us. I say this to you””. (Volume 4 Chapter 17) This scene shows the massive amount of Pierre’s growth as an individual and how much he appreciates his past. Pierre’s growth in finding happiness in a deprived state is something that Tolstoy included to show his opinion on how one should live, and how much he idolized poverty and suffering as a basis for morality according to his philosophy. It can be seen in accounts of Tolstoy’s own life where even though he was wealthy for most of his life he lived without extravagance later in life.

Tolstoy strives for in his own life; what he depicts in Pierre and his growth throughout the book. When reading Tolstoy’s diary one can see that he wants to grow and improve however, he often struggles in his pursuits “I’ve re-read the pages of my diary in which I examine myself and look for ways and methods of improvement. To start with I adopted a scientific and most logical method…” (Tolstoy’s Short Fiction pp 315) Tolstoy has the intention of improvement yet he fails no more than a few days later when he writes “Seven days in which I have done absolutely nothing except for two rewritten letters of Sevastopol

29 April 2022
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