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MonkeyNotes-War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
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OVERALL Analysis

Character Analysis

Pyotr Kirilovich Bezukhov Or Pierre

The story of Pierre Bezukhov reads like a fairy tale. The illegitimate son of a wealthy Count, he becomes the sole heir to his fatherís property. He is unaware of his motherís existence and appears to be a confused individual. Society looks at him with suspicious eyes and he feels uncomfortable in its presence. After he acquires wealth and position, people chase him for their own benefit. However, money brings no relief to his life but only increases his problems. Everyone exploits him and leaves him disillusioned. In the process of establishing his identity, he experiences hardships and mental trauma. However, suffering ennobles him and he emerges enlightened after his ordeal.

Pierre evolves himself from an insecure individual to a confident person who influences others. The beginning of the novel shows him as a weak character that desires company and attention but gets easily influenced by others. He is aware of his doubtful identity and hence, is cautious in his behavior towards others. However, he values friendship. Thus, he likes talking to Andrei and taking his advice but is too weak to follow it. Thus, he gets into bad company and bears the consequence of his actions.

Shortly afterwards, his father dies and leaves all his wealth and vast property to Pierre. Now, he is one of the richest men in his society and the most eligible bachelor. People forget his doubtful birth and pursue him for their own needs. Thus, Prince Vasily becomes his guardian and persuades him to propose to his daughter, Ellen. Pierre is hesitant but succumbs to pressure and gets married to Ellen.

Marrying Ellen is the worst mistake Pierre had ever committed in his life. Instead of providing him security and boosting his confidence, Ellen insults his ego and makes his life miserable. Thus, in spite of being married to her he leads his own life and tries to derive satisfaction from it. He joins the fold of Free Masons and dedicates himself to the organization. However, when his work is not appreciated, he feels disappointed. Later, he maintains ten thousand soldiers and in his capacity as their guardian, visits the battlefield to experience the life of a soldier. The struggle, the risk and the sacrifice involved in war shock him and returns he home with a heavy heart. Ellenís plan to divorce him adds to his confusion, and he runs away from home. Pierre keeps finding ways to fulfill his life but remains dissatisfied. Happiness eludes him.


Escaping from his home and Ellen, Pierre seeks refuge in his late mentorís home in Moscow. The spirit of revenge against Napoleon overpowers him and he desires to meet the French emperor. With this intention, he disguises himself as a peasant and arms himself with a weapon. With determination, he marches out into the streets of Moscow, when the enemy is plundering the city. He saves the life of a girl from a burning house and protects the honor of another young woman from the lewd advances of a French soldier. The enemy suspects his intentions and imprisons him. Pierre is unlucky in life. Whenever he tries to help others, he lands in trouble.

The period of imprisonment is another period of struggle for Pierre. He is shifted from place to place and made to live under intolerable conditions. Deprived of food, warm clothing and sleep, he turns a shadow of his former being. He also observes other prisoners experiencing anguish before being hanged and dying on the way due to illness. Death haunts him but life eludes him. He realizes the value of life and decides to make the best of it when he is released. He is not bitter with life. He identifies himself with nature and recognizes the presence of a supreme force in it. Thus, after his release, he is chastened. He faces life with hope and confidence. When he chooses Natasha as his life partner, he is sure of his decision. Pierre finds happiness, at last and he cherishes it.

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