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MonkeyNotes-War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
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Count Nikolai Ilyich Rostov

Leo Tolstoy based the character of Nikolai Rostov on the personality of his father. His father was an aristocrat who loved life and his country. He enjoyed hunting and partying. He was a good man but a bad administrator. Nikolai Rostov is proud of his noble birth and enjoys the comforts that come along with his position. He loves his freedom and likes to indulge in the pleasures that go with it. Thus, hunting, masquerading and partying thrill him. However, when he tries to sort out the financial tangle created by his father, he proves to be a failure.

Nikolai Rostov is a caring son, brother, friend and husband. He respects the wishes of his parents and feels guilty when he provokes their displeasure. He loves Natasha and wishes the best for her in life. Thus, he is concerned about her, after she is betrothed to Andrei and is made to wait for a year before marrying him. He admires Sonya and imagines himself to be in love with her. However, when he discovers that he has no place for her in his heart, he feels sorry for her. He is impressed by Maryaís grace and dignity and thus, falls in love with her. After his marriage, he appreciates her talents and seeks her suggestions on his work. He is proud of Marya as his wife and mother of his children. Finally, he has high regard for Denisov as an officer and as a friend. He is happy in Denisovís company and is hurt when the latter is punished for committing an impropriety.

Nikolai Rostov is as good in the battlefield as he is at home. He is enthusiastic to participate in the war and fight for his country. Thus, he risks his life to charge against the enemy and capture one of them. In the process, he gets wounded. He is excited meeting the Tsar and hearing words of encouragement from him. He vows to bring glory to his country and his emperor. When the Great Aleksandr honors him along with other soldiers, he is too happy to believe it. Nikolai is a true patriot. First, he serves as a disciplined soldier of the Pavlograd regiment and later fulfills his duties as the returning officer. As the commander of his regiment in place of Denisov, he enjoys the respect and love of his soldiers. Thus, he is the happiest in the army camp and amidst the soldiers who appreciate his worth.


Nikolai is too honest to be true. When he finds a senior officer involved in the theft of Denisovís money, he confronts him directly and accuses him. When he is asked to apologize for his behavior, he refuses to do so on a matter of principle. This causes a lot of embarrassment to Denisov and other officers. Other qualities of Nikolai that create trouble for him are his trusting nature and impulsive attitude. He trusts Dolokhov as a friend and encourages him to befriend his family members. Dolokhov takes advantage of his goodness and proposes to Sonya, even when he is aware that the girl is in love with Nikolai. After Sonya thwarts him, Dolokhov invites Nikolai to gamble with him. Nikolai falls into Dolokhovís trap unaware of the latterís evil intentions. Nikolai does his duty as a friend and gets punished for it.

If Nikolai is a generous friend, he is a stern master on his estates. He works devotedly on the estate and encourages the peasants to do their best. He undertakes reforms for the benefit of the peasants. However, when the peasants make mistakes, he becomes intolerant and loses his temper. In the process, he hurts their sentiments and also feels guilty about it. In his obsession for perfection, he gets impatient with people who fail to achieve it. In portraying the weakness of Nikolai, Tolstoy makes his character convincing.

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