The reader's reactions to a passage have always been a very important thing to notice while analyzing a text. While I was reading War and Peace, Book 14: Bald Hills. Prince N. A. Bolkonski. Princess Mary's Correspondence with Julie Karagina. I couldn't get this idea out of my head. Is Mary lesbian? Is she in love with Jane? Are they sharing words of love or just deep friendship? I have tried to analyze this idea, see what you think.
The main focus of Book 14 are the letters between Mary and Jane. The first letter that Tolstoy let us read between these lovers was one written by Jane and given to Mary. When Mary first heard about her latest letter "red patches showed themselves on [Mary's] face (76)". I won't include the entirety of this letter, only the first passage. I do this because this whole paragraph is nothing but sappy tales of love.
Dear and precious Friend, How terrible and frightful a thing is separation! Though I tell myself that half my life and half my happiness are wrapped up in you, and that in spite of the distance separating us our hearts are united by indissoluble bonds, my heart rebels against fate and in spite of the pleasure and distractions around me I cannot overcome a certain severer sorrow that has been in my heart ever since we parted. Why are we not together as we were last summer, in your big study on the blue sofa, the confidential sofa? Why cannot I now, as three months ago, draw fresh moral strength from your look, so gentle, calm, and penetrating, a look I loved so well and seem to see before me as I write? (78)
Jane finishes her letter with the phrase, "I embrace you as I love you (79)". I find that this letter clearly has tones of Romanticism, which makes me wonder what Tolstoy's purpose in this was.
Mary opens her responding letter with, "Dear and precious Friend, Your letter of the 13th has given me a great delight. So you still love me, my romantic Julie? (79)". Although Mary's letter doesn't have as many words of love, her opinion towards the sanctity of marriage is interesting. "I will tell you, dear sweet friend, that I look on marriage as a divine institution to which we must conform (80)" . These women talk of how they must wed and of decent suitors, but they never express the possibility of loving their husband.
I can't be certain of Tolstoy's purpose in having this exchange. Maybe he himself didn't even understand the possibilities of sexuality and just used his observations as a social commentary. Honestly, I might be going to far. But something is definitely up.