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War And Peace


by Leo Tolstoy
The historical fiction book, " War and Peace", by Leo
Tolstoy, is a story chronicling the lives of the Russian
royal family from 1805 until 1815. The story begins at a
cocktail party being held at the home of Anna Pavolvna, a
rich St. Petersburg socialite, however, most of the action
takes place in Moscow, at the home of the Rostov family,
and at the battle front in the war with Napoleon. 

The protagonists are Natasha Rostov, a teenage girl who
grows and matures throughout the book and Pierre Bezuhov,
the illegitimate son of Kirill Vladmirovitch Bezuhov, who
spends much of the novel contemplating his purpose on
earth; and Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, the head of the
Bolkonsky family and a great war hero. The antagonists are:
the protagonists themselves, as they torment themselves,
and, Napoleon Bonaparte, (Buonaparte to some who believe
him to be an impostor) the Emperor and military leader of
France, bent on world domination. Secondary characters are
the families of Bolkonsky and Kuragin; Anna Pavolvna, a
famous St. Petersburg socialite and Kutuzof, the military
leader of the Russian forces. 

The basic conflict is the effects of the changes to the
protagonists throughout the Napoleonic wars. One important
event occurs when Prince Andrei is wounded during the
battle of Austerlitz, as he is given a chance to recollect
on his wartime experiences.. Another important event occurs
when Pierre is taken prisoner by the French, (because he
has the chance to delve into his feelings and come to peace
with himself. The climax of Pierre's story occurs when he
is held before a firing squad by the French. This is his
climax, because he is convinced that he is going to die,
and, after he is spared, he becomes more philanthropic and
caring and it is obvious that he will continue on this
course until the end. The climax of Natasha's life occurs
when Andrei dies, because it makes her reconsider the way
she has lived her life, maturing her further from her state
of mind as a seventeen year-old. The climax for Andrei
occurs when he is mortally wounded while attempting to
protect Moscow from Napoleon's forces. This is his climax
because his outlook on life becomes so negative and morbid
that he can only wait to die, and it is obvious that he
won't have it any other way. 

The story ends with the defeat and exile of Napoleon and
the emergence of Russia as a world power, and the meeting
of Natasha and Pierre after several years of absence. " War
and Peace" is a classic because it is the best-known of Leo
Tolstoy's works, and perhaps the best example of his
strengths of writing. The characters are fleshed out, to
the point that you think they are real people. He can
transition from one topic to the next without dropping
anything. Most of all, he can write to keep your attention.
It is (almost) never boring. That is why War and Peace
qualifies as a classic. 


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