Monday, November 18, 2013
A Sudden Burst of Feminism
When Natasha is finally reunited with Andrew as they leave Moscow, the narrator tells us that, "Natasha never left the wounded Bolkonsky, and the doctor had to admit that he had not expected from a young girl either such firmness or such skill in nursing a wounded man" (819). This passage struck me in particular because it didn't match the usual way Tolstoy depicted women. In the past, we have seen the women of the story as completely separate from the war, and unable to be of use during it. However, we now have a description of Natasha that says she is not only willing but effective at nursing Andrew. As late as this change is, do you think it betokens a new role for the women of the story as not merely ornamental, but also useful? The sudden burst of feminism seems out of place for Tolstoy, and I wonder if it will continue throughout the novel, or disappear when Andrew regains his health.