Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Pierre's Future

It's interesting how Pierre's character has been progressing and growing thus far in War and Peace. He went from being one of the most socially awkward and isolated characters in the book to one of the most liked. Interestingly enough, he hasn't really grown less awkward, instead society has just begun to notice how selfless and kind he is. He's constantly giving money to people, supporting different groups in society, and generally giving away all he has for the betterment of the community. You'd think that someone able to be this giving would be pretty happy with themselves and their situation in life, but Pierre isn't. Despite the fact that he's is being well received by everyone, a vast improvement from the way he was treated at the beginning of the book, we also see him spiral into alcoholism, extreme sexual frustration made evident by the abusive way he talks about his wife, and (denied) jealousy of Andrew's engagement to Natasha. Yet all of these things are masked by the way he is constantly trying to help others out. It's as if he's trying to shed the money and status he inherited from his father in order to go back to a time in his life when things were simpler and he was happier. His dependency on wine is especially upsetting and doesn't bode well for his future in the novel. Drinking is obviously one way he's coping with his problems with his wife and his feelings for Natasha, but I think the same can be said for his generosity. If not checked, he could lose a lot over time and be taken advantaged of. Hopefully Pierre will be able to rein these two habits in before anything gets out of control. So far though, I'd say his future isn't looking too bright and he'll probably need to make a big lifestyle change before he can find happiness.


  1. I think it is interesting that when he changes cities his popularity changes. I think it has more to do with the different group of people he socializes with than with a change in people's hearts. Also, I am not sure we could ever argue he was ever happier (as far as we have seen), because we met him only right before he inherited the money and I would say there hasn't been much of a change. I like your point about him burying his problems in his money and alcohol. This is something that he seriously needs to change in his life. Pierre needs an outside force to become a new and improved man because he has no personal motivation to change the way his life is right now.

  2. I think its interesting that investing and being involved in the military has become a new outlet for Pierre to find happiness through because it is similar to his involvement with the freemasons, except he does not need persuasion to give resources away. Perhaps Tolstoy is saying that involvement in cults and in nationalistic projects are not so different. In any event, Pierre's lack of direction and search for purpose is ultimately good for Russia, and here is another example of how history is constructed through many factors unrelated to the 'great' figures.

  3. I found your linking Pierre's drinking problems to his generosity problems interesting. I totally agree that Pierre needs to change his lifestyle soon, or otherwise pay dearly for the consequences. It's a pity that he can only change from outside force, as he lacks willpower to progress for the better (as Helena mentioned). On the other hand, I think to a certain degree he is still the odd-but wealthy benefactor of the people--regardless of where he is, his wealth and title play a big role in how people access him. This brings up the problem of people viewing him little more than a convenient source of money whom people don't necessarily have to respect but just act endearing toward him. On the same token, I think Pierre's actions of "shedding" money doesn't necessarily mean he wants to go back to his status-less life; rather, I perceived it as him not valuing his wealth enough but merely waste it for the sake of wasting it.