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MonkeyNotes-War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
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Princess Marya Nikolayevna Bolkonskaya

If Natasha comes across as a vivacious and vibrant young woman, Princess Marya appears as a serene and dignified lady. She is the epitome of goodness, perseverance and sacrifice. Tolstoy has convincingly presented a woman who gives more than she gets and looks at the future with hope because the present has very little to offer her. She is more to be pitied than admired.

The daughter of Prince Bolkonsky, she feels responsible for her father. Living with her father at Bald Hills, she does everything to please her parent. She attends to his needs and caters to his whims. She goes through grueling lessons of mathematics and listens to his taunts, without expressing her displeasure. In fact, when Andrei points out his lapses, she defends the Prince and takes pity on his age. She patiently bears his authoritarian ways and considers it her duty to obey him. Only later, when his criticism and accusations become intolerable, she longs to escape from his cruel world and seek happiness elsewhere. However, her responsibilities towards her father and nephew, tie her down to the house.

Princess Marya is kind, generous and understanding. She likes everyone including her father. She loves her brother and his beautiful wife. Whenever Andrei and Lisa come to visit them, she is overjoyed. After Andrei goes to take part in the battle, she proves to be a comforting companion to Lisa. She understands her sister-in-lawís emotional needs and looks after her during her confinement. After Lisaís death, she takes the responsibility of looking after Nikoluska, her nephew. She attends to his health and supervises his lessons. She provides him the motherly love he misses. Later, she shows concern for Andreiís health and resigned attitude and asks Pierre to offer solace to his friend. After Andreiís demise, she proves to be an ideal companion to Natasha and a friend to the Rostovs. Later, after she gets married to Nikolai, she is a soothing presence and valuable partner to her husband. Marya forgets her own problems to understand otherís plight and gives comfort to them.


Princess Marya has the longings and desires of a normal girl, though she appears distant. Cut off from the rest of the society, and barred from the joys of the world, Marya craves for company and attention. She cherishes Andreiís visits and Pierreís company. She feels satisfaction talking to pilgrims and listening to their tales. She is happy meeting Prince Vasily and Anatol. She is delighted to get the attention of Anatol and dreams of being the wife of such a dashing man. Later, when Nikolai rescues her from her adversaries, she loses her heart to him. Finally, when she observes Nikolai feeling hesitant to declare his love for her, she breaks down to bear her heart to him. After getting married to him, she is happy leading the life of a homely wife and devoted mother.

In the case of Marya too, Tolstoy has revealed her shortcomings to make her believable. Though she is plain in looks and is aware of it, sometimes she tries to look attractive to earn the praise of others. Desiring to impress Anatol, she gives in to the wishes of Lisa and adorns herself with fancy clothes. Later, after getting married to Nikolai, she feels neglected at times. She envies Sonya for her beauty and feels jealous of her. However, she recovers her composure after talking to Nikolai and sorting out her thoughts. Princess Marya is a sensible woman endowed with many good virtues. However, she is as human as the rest and thus, blunders once in a while.

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