Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
Most of the characters face reversal of fortune in this part of the novel. Pierre gets disillusioned with his life and turns to his old dissolute ways. Old Bolkonsky turns almost senile and makes the life of Marya a hell. Princess Marya is frustrated and feels helpless to get out of the vicious trap. Natasha gets lured by Anatol and betrays the trust of Andrei. As a result, she loses her hold on life and falls seriously ill. Andrei feels betrayed and cheated and rejects Natasha from his life. Book IV thus ends on a note of regret.
Pierre who had tried to reform and rebuild his life after joining the Organization of Free Masons, feels rejected and isolated after Ellen betrays his trust repeatedly. Disgusted with his life, he relinquishes the government job he holds, renounces his membership to the organization of Free Masons and escapes to Moscow. Thus, turning back on life, he indulges in all the vices he had avoided some time earlier. He fails to alter his life, even after Ellen arrives in Moscow. He leads his own life and tolerates her existence.
Old Prince Bolkonsky loses his balance of mind and discretion. He becomes impatient, intolerant and irritable. He turns his anger on Marya and abuses her in front of her maid. He flirts shamelessly with Madam Bourienne to slight Marya. In a fit of temper, he orders her to get out of the house. He makes Marya’s life torturous. He also turns away the French doctor who had been attending to him. Bolkonsky loses his peace of mind and spoils the peace of others who care for him.
Princess Marya is a woman to be pitied and admired. Motherless, she had showered all her affection and attention on her father. She had served her father with devotion and catered to his whims. In return, she had expected only love but she is denied this emotion. Prince Bolkonsky had always imposed his authority on her and failed to understand her feelings. He had never bothered to fulfil her wishes or needs. Marya had tolerated his tempers and moods for long and excused his lapses. She had tried to escape from her trapped existence by attending to her nephew and entertaining pilgrims. Sometimes she had wished to go on a pilgrimage but her responsibilities towards her father had tied her down to the house. In Moscow, when the Prince starts abusing her and orders her out of the house, she is at her wit’s end. Friendless in a strange city, she feels desolate and turns bitter. Marya is an unfortunate victim of circumstances and evokes the sympathy of the readers.
The beginning of Part V of Book II showed Pierre losing hold on his life. Towards the end of the same part of Book II, it is Natasha who loses her interest in life and Pierre tries to lift her up from the depths of despair. In the process of offering solace to Natasha, Pierre becomes aware of his love for the girl. Her plight evokes his sympathy and he shares her agony. In trying to help Natasha recover, he loses his heart to her and hopes for a new beginning for himself.