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MonkeyNotes-War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
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As war rages on in Europe, people in Petersburg get along with their normal activities. Some people throw parties, others plot intrigues to secure inheritance and a few others visit their near and dear ones. Anna Pavlovna throws one of her soirees and invites all the influential people to it. She is an ideal hostess who listens to everyone’s problems and offers solutions to them. Thus, when Prince Vasily expresses concern about his elder son, Anna Pavlovna offers to fix a match between Anatol and Princess Marya. Prince Andrei arrives with his beautiful wife who is pregnant. As Lisa shows indulgence towards her husband, Andrei ignores her and continues expressing his profound ideas to others. Ippolit, the foolish younger son of Vasily, is besotted by the beauty of Lisa and shadows her till she leaves the party. Pierre keeps to his friends and does not bother about being ignored. Anna Mikhailovna chases Vasily to get a commission for her son in the army. In the house of Bezukhov, the wealthy old Count is dying and people surround him with a view to acquire a little of his property. Pierre visits licentious friends and gets involved in drunken bouts. Prince Andrei visits his father and sister before leaving for the battlefield and his charming wife is reluctant to part from him. Thus, the members of high class Russian society get busy meeting people, aiming for favors and fulfilling their heart’s desire.


In Part I of the novel, Tolstoy introduces all the principal characters of the novel. The family of Kuragins make their presence felt in the first chapter. Prince Vasily is the head of the family of Kuragins. He is man of the world who acquaints himself with people who are influential and seeks favor from them. His daughter, Ellen is a beautiful girl who knows how to attract the attention of others and win their admiration. His son, Anatol is a wastrel who indulges in idle pastimes and squanders his father’s wealth. His younger son, Ippolit is a fool who chases married women and talks out of turn.

The other family that comes into focus in this Part is Bolkonskys. Andrei Bolkonsky is an intelligent snob who fails to understand the sentiments of his wife. He is too preoccupied with himself to care for others, though he does advice Pierre to keep away from bad company. His wife, Lisa is a simple woman devoid of ostentation or pretension. As a loving wife, she dissuades her husband from joining the army but her words are ignored by Andrei. Prince Bolkonsky is an aristocratic autocrat who imposes his authority on his daughter without caring for her sentiments. He is patriotic and is proud of sending his son to the battlefront to fight against the enemy. Princess Marya is a sensible girl who caters to the whims of her father to create harmony in the house. She loves her father and brother and cares for her sister-in-law. As a doting sister, she too is concerned about the welfare of her brother and hence, gives him a lucky charm to wear during a battle.

The Bezukhovs are another family that is mentioned in the first part of the novel. Count Bezukhov, the head of the family, is an old but wealthy man. He is bed-ridden and waiting to die. He has only one son, an illegitimate one and that one is Pierre. Pierre is an insecure individual who seeks attention and is easily influenced by others. However, he is not greedy to acquire his father’s wealth. His daughter, Countess Katerina, cares for her father and does not appreciate Vasily’s plan to secure Pierre’s will.

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