Monday, November 14, 2011

Mob Mentality

Tolstoy's depiction of Count Rosopchin and of the Russian people left in Moscow before the French enter is very interesting. Rostopchin cannot believe that Moscow will actually be abandoned and is apparently trying to restore tranquility to the people with his broadsheets, but in fact he is stirring them up into a mob. Once they find out that he had been lying and that Moscow was in fact being abandoned, Rostopchin realized that he had led the people out of control and he felt that he had to appease them.
Of course, as is very typical of the nobility in War and Peace, Rostopchin cannot admit his own fault, but instead places the blame on someone else: the political prisoner Vereshchagin, who had nothing to do with the abandonment of Moscow. He throws Vereshchagin to the mob, thinking that he is doing good, when in fact he is not.
Both Rostopchin and the mob go through similar thought processes while this is happening. Rostopchin feels compelled to provide authority and sacrifice someone to the mob just as they feel compelled to obey him and attack Vereshchagin. Afterwards they both regret their actions, realizing that what they did is wrong. However, after regretting what he has done, Rostopchin then justifies his actions as necessary. This is another demonstration by Tolstoy of the stubbornness of the nobility. Even a mob can admit when they have done wrong, but the Count cannot.


  1. Not only does this scene demonstrate Rostopchin's stubbornness , but also his burning desire for power. He is afraid to admit his mistake because he doesn't want to give the public a reason to doubt him; however, perhaps he would be considered less of an extremist by the people if he were to admit to his mistakes. Rostopchin is a perfect example of a nobleman who will sacrifice anything, including his own dignity, to maintain the illusion of power. But as we know- it is not great men that shape history...

  2. Rostopchin also seems to be the physical interpretation of Russia at this point. I almost feel like Tolstoy uses his characters to describe the Cities or the Battles, for example, Kutuzov resembled the Russians at Borodino.

    It kinda makes sense, Rostopchin is going crazy and doesn't know how or when to create order. The City of Moscow directly portrays his state with the crazy mobs.