Saturday, November 19, 2011


I would not dare to say that love is one of the most important themes of War and Peace, but I do believe that it is essential to pay attention at the description of how this feeling develops in each of the characters. Beside the moonlight, the night and the comets, how is this portrayed?  When I read War and peace I feel that most descriptions of love are not straightforward, that characters fall in love suddenly and abruptly and, as a consequence, their love does not last as long as it should. Pierre acknowledges that his love for Natasha has started a long time ago, but we had no previous hints of his love having been such a profound and deep feeling that developed over the years. Is it that Pierre realizes the fact that he has always loved Natasha while he is talking to the French soldier, or rather he knew it all along but it is the first time he allows himself to think about it and to speak it? Is this love as pure as the one Prince Andrew experiences as he is approaching death? 
Prince Andrew, the character in perpetual evolution, claims that he has " experienced that feeling of love which is the very essence of the soul and does not require an object". Also, another quote that drew my attention is: " When loving with human love one may pass from love to hatred, but divine love cannot change. No, neither death nor anything else can destroy it. It is the very essence of the soul."(p.817). What is this love that one experiences only at the closeness of death? What does Prince Andrew know that us, as part of the ignorant humanity do not know? Did Tolstoy actually know how this kind of love feels or is this just a philosophical idea he just wanted to bring into the attention of his readers? 
What is love in Tolstoy's view? Is it innocent as Natasha is when she falls in love with Andrew? Is it the fruit of a comparison with bad past experiences and a desire of renewal and of a new life as it is for Pierre and Andrew? Is it selfish love as it is in Helene's case? Is it caring and worrying about your family, as it is in the Rostov family? And if we admit that love is each of the above and more, does this combination of the types of love presented in War and Peace result in the divine love Prince Andrew experiences?
What is Tolstoy telling us about love?


  1. I think that Tolstoy believes in two types of love, human love and divine love. He portrays human love as a love, which is for people necessary and vain. He depicts divine love as the highest and most pure form of love. Whether or not he has experience divine love at this point in his life, I can't tell; but it is obvious that he believes that there is more to love than caring for one's friends, family, and spouse.

  2. There are definitely different forms and levels of love. But I feel like Tolstoy uses these to develop up each character. In my essay I discussed on how Natasha developed only through love.

    On the discussion of Human Love and Divine Love, I don't think Tolstoy made any definite points on how to separate them. And Jen, I don't really understand your description either.

    In my view, this Divine Love that Tolstoy speaks of isn't any type of love that one can feel for another person. Therefore, it isn't the love of one's family or one's partner. It seems to be more of the metaphysical Form of Love. This Love is the baseline where we can tap into at certain moments of Human Love.