Monday, October 13, 2014

The Immaturity of Nicholas

by Sara Ashbaugh

The hunting scene in Book Seven functions to show the reader aspects of Russian culture, but also to develop the characters. During the scene, Tolstoy focuses on Nicholas, and by doing so he reveals yet another example of Nicholas’s extreme emotional reactions and his need for competition to boost his ego. During the scene Tolstoy describes Nicholas’s despair and elation in extremes, consistent with the past actions of Nicholas’s character. Verbs such as “wailed”, “shouted”, and “cried in despair” are used to describe him, and the narrator states that capturing the wolf is “the happiest moment of his [Nicholas’s] life” (Tostoy, 443). Even more revealing of Nicholas’s character, however, are his inner thoughts. At one point he states, “Everywhere, at cards and at war, I am always unlucky,” and then, “Only once in my life to get an old wolf, I want only that!” (Tolstoy 442). Nicholas attributes his misfortune to bad luck, when in reality it is a result of consistently spontaneous and risky decisions that leave him with nowhere to turn. His desire for competition to showcase his masculinity can be seen over and over; betting the obviously cheating Dolokhov and engaging in competition between the hunting dogs are only two examples. He seems to believe that if he is successful, even in something so small as the capture of a wolf, it makes up for his previous misadventures. This need for competition and lack of thought in decision-making is immature. Despite all he’s been through, Nicholas is still showing off.


  1. I think we also see his insecurity in himself here. Once he gets to Uncle's house he feels he doesn't need to prove his masculine superiority over Natasha and begins to act normal around her. This develops his immaturity and youth. Not only does he make bad decisions as you noted here (which could also be applied to his choice of marrying Sonya) but he feels he needs to prove himself. He cares what everyone else is thinking of him and I think how you said it "Nicholas is still showing off" sums it up perfectly. He has some more growing up to do.

  2. Yes! Nicholas undeniably makes foolish choices but it is only because of his age. He still has to grow up but with time he will. As we continue to read the novel we will see more of his character and I believe it will develop greatly. He will hopefully grow out of his childish tendencies and I am sure he will become an amiable character. Give him time!