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MonkeyNotes-War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
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Emperor Aleksandr is presented in a different light. The readers are told more about the nature of the emperor than his abilities as a leader. Thus, he is seen at Olmutz as a kind and persuasive King who commends the abilities of his soldiers, honors them and encourages them to do their best. His inspiring presence and soothing words evoke the patriotic sentiments of Russian soldiers like Rostov. After their defeat at Austerlitz, he feels disappointed and distressed. In a weak moment, he breaks down in front of his officers. Emperor Aleksandr, thus comes across as a King with a pleasant personality and a tender heart.

Finally, Nikolai Rostov reveals another facet of his personality in this part of Book I. In Part I he presented himself as a handsome and refined aristocrat who charms beautiful girls with his talk and behavior. In Part II, he reveals himself as a disciplined officer who respects his commander but is intolerant towards hypocritical officers. In this part, he shows himself as a true patriot who is willing to lay down his life for his country. In Vienna, he fights valiantly against the French and wounds himself. At Olmutz, he feels honored to be in the presence of the emperor and gets inspired by the words of the latter. Since, his battalion is kept in reserve, he seeks the permission of Prince Bagration to join the latterís forces on the battlefield. He desires to confront the enemy on the field and undertakes the risky journey through the hills to ascertain the position of the enemy. However, when the Russian army gets defeated in the hands of the French at Austerlitz, he feels dejected. He feels sorry for the Tsar and disappointed that he could not serve his country better.


Leo Tolstoy propounds his philosophy of life through Prince Andrei in this part of Book I. After the defeat of the Russians in the hands of the French at the battle of Austerlitz, Prince Andrei lies wounded on the field. Opening his eyes, he surveys the vast nature surrounding him and realizes his insignificance. His assessment of Napoleon as a powerful force wanes in this context. Thus, in the hospital, as Napoleon confidently goes around inspecting the wards, to Andrei "everything seemed to him so futile and insignificant in comparison with that solemn and sublime train of thought which weakness, loss of blood, suffering and the nearness of death had induced on him. Looking into Napoleonís eyes, Prince Andrei thought of the insignificance of greatness, the unimportance of life, which no one could understand and of the still greater unimportance of death, the meaning of which no living person could understand and explain." Tolstoy reveals the helplessness of man in the hands of an unknown force and the futility of power in the hands of fate.

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