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MonkeyNotes-War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
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Prince Andrei Nikolayevich Bolkonsky

Prince Andrei appears to be the dashing hero of a romantic novel. He is handsome, intelligent and sensible but snobbish. He resembles Tolstoy to some extent. Like Tolstoy, he is of noble birth, cultured and educated. Like his creator, he enlists in the army and experiences the atrocities of war. Again like him, he transforms himself from an arrogant aristocrat to a social reformer. However, the comparison stops at this point. Andrei neither loved literature nor was he fond of writing. And he never experienced the bliss of married life or the joy of rearing children.

The first impression that one gets of Andrei is of a man who is proud of his birth and his attainments. He is intolerant towards all those who are petty and frivolous. Thus, when his wife fusses over him, he sneers at her and ignores her plea. He is insensitive to the feelings of a loving wife like Lisa. He likes conversing with like-minded people like Pierre. However, his positive qualities come to the fore, when he visits Bald Hills. He is concerned about his father and sister. He respects the wishes of his father and the sentiments of Marya who gives him a lucky charm to wear during war. He is a responsible son and brother.

The next time the readers get to meet Andrei is in the battlefield. He is a dedicated and disciplined officer of the army who respects his Commander, Kutuzov and encourages the soldiers to do their best. In turn he is admired and feared by his superiors and juniors. Kutuzov commends his abilities as an army man and mentions about it to Prince Bolkonsky in a letter. Also, after the Austrian General Schmidt loses his life on the battlefield, it is Andrei who is chosen to convey the news to the Austrian emperor. Andrei is a brave and patriotic soldier who fights valiantly against the enemy on the battlefield and gets wounded.

Two significant events influence Andrei to change his attitude to life. Firstly, after he gets wounded and lies in the battlefield of Austerlitz, he realizes his insignificance in the vast expanse of nature. Later, when he meets Napoleon, he becomes aware of the same fact. When he reaches home, he is shocked to find his wife on her deathbed. As he looks at her pale lifeless face, he feels guilty of neglecting her when she needed him the most. Instead of fulfilling his responsibility towards his family, he had proceeded to do his duty to his country. In the process, he had got disillusioned with his life. This is the turning point of his life. He renounces the life of a soldier and settles down as a landowner.


Andrei is not the family man in the real sense. He does love his father, sister and son but he is averse to staying with them and involving himself in their everyday life. He desires peace and freedom to contemplate on his life and identify his priorities. Thus, he shifts to Bagucharovo and builds his house on the estate. Here, he spends time reading, inspecting the house building and attending to the problems of the peasants. He undertakes reforms to improve the lives of the peasants. He removes serfdom and employs serfs on the farm. He undertakes education for the children of the peasants and appoints midwives to attend to women in labor. Andrei, the aristocrat and patriot, becomes an able reformer.

Love enters the heart of Andrei late in life and transforms him into a caring individual. Also, he who had lost interest in life and turned philosophical experiences joy in living and loving. The youthful exuberance of Natasha kindles hope in his heart and he decides to lead a life of marital bliss with her. However, fate plays a cruel joke on him and snatches away his love from him. After Natasha betrays him, he turns bitter and revengeful. Also, he goes back to the field, not out of patriotism but out of frustration. Andrei is unlucky in love.

The final transformation of Andrei occurs after the battle of Borodino. He repels the attack of the enemy fearlessly but gets wounded fatally. As he is taken to the hospital to attend to his wounds, he is shocked to see his antagonist, Anatol fighting for his life after his leg is amputated. Looking at the man who had ruined his life and seeing him anguish, Andrei feels pity not hatred for Anatol. He realizes how God had punished Anatol and the thought makes him forgive his enemy. Later, when he meets Natasha, he forgives her too. Suffering ennobles Andrei and he dies peacefully.

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