Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Patriotism in War and Peace

Given that war and patriotism are often closely linked it is not surprising that patriotism is an important theme in War and Peace. From reading the War and Peace it is clear that Tolstoy views war as an unnatural occurrence that goes against basic human nature. What is it that Tolstoy considers to the cause of war? I think there are several things Tolstoy considers to contribute to the start and continuations of wars but patriotism is definitely among them.
Both war and patriotism are portrayed as negative things in War and Peace. Tolstoy portrays the aristocracy as people who due to their patriotism blindly follow and never question the government. It is the aristocracy who Tolstoy is most critical of that is presented as the most patriotic part of Russian society. In the beginning of the book in Anna Schérer’s soiree Pierre express support for the French Revolution and the ideas of liberty and equality of men. The rest of the aristocrats present strongly disagree and express support the monarchy. When Rostopchin gives a speech about the war and mentions the emperor the crowd is quickly are inspired and several men promise serfs for the army. Carried away with patriotic feelings and a quest for glory Andrew is wound and Petya killed.
I think Tolstoy believes that people have a duty to do what is right and what is good for humanity. However, what is good for humanity is not compatible with patriotism and what is best for one specific county.

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