War and Peace: Character Profiles
Alexander I: The Emperor of Russia appears infrequently, but is often referred to by several characters in patriotic terms.
Anatole Kuragin: Anatole is the son of Prince Vasili and is rumoured to have had a close relationship with his sister, H'l'ne. He is a minor character, but his flirtation and attempt to elope with Natasha to marry her bigamously is the cause of the break in her engagement with Prince Andrei.
Boris Drubetskoy: He is the son of Princess Anna Mihalovna Drubetskoy and is characterized by his desire to succeed in his career and standing in society. He marries the wealthy Julie Karagin as a means to achieving this all the more.
Count Rostov: The Count is the patriarch of the Rostov household. He is genial, sociable and incapable of managing his affairs wisely. His laxity in accounts and business leave his family in debt after his death.
Countess Rostov: The Countess and her husband are equally rash with their money. The Countess is notable for her lack of awareness of her debts after the death of her husband and is greatly concerned that her son, Nikolai, marries an heiress rather than her dependent niece Sonya.
Denisov: A friend of Nikolai Rostov, he is charged with a court martial for stealing for his starving army underlings. He later plays a significant part in the latter stages of the war when he undertakes guerrilla warfare against the French.
Dolohov: Initially a friend of Pierre and Nikolai Rostov, he alienates both because of his cruelty and untrustworthy behavior. Pierre challenges him to a duel because of the likelihood that he is having an affair with his then wife H'l'ne. Dolohov also financially cripples the Rostovs after beating Rostov at cards. This is Dolohov's vengeance for Sonya repudiating his advances.
H'l'ne: The daughter of Prince Vasili, she marries Pierre for his fortune and subsequently has adulterous affairs. She is beautiful and highly regarded in society circles, but is perceived as dull and stupid by Pierre.
Kutuzov: Kutuzov, the Russian commander-in-chief, is sympathetically portrayed as wise in the management of his troops. He is described as a scapegoat when Russia is losing its battles and this novel attempts to understand the effectiveness of his decisions to not fight unnecessarily.
Lisa: Lisa is Prince Andrei's wife. She dies giving birth to their son, Nikolai Bolkonsky, and is drawn as quite shallow. It is not until Prince Andrei is wounded, and his wife dies, that he recognizes how badly he has treated her.
Mademoiselle Bourienne: She is the companion of Princess Maria, who is the sister of Prince Andrei. She is a minor character and is described as having little depth.
Napoleon: The 'greatness' of Napoleon is questioned in this novel. His mistakes and personal flaws are challenged, as are the historical accounts that have predominantly suggested he is heroic.
Natasha Rostov: Natasha is one of the main central characters and is notable for her desire to be free and for her intuitive responses. Her engagement to Prince Andrei and the later breakdown of this relationship are both significant events in the novel as they serve to illuminate her guilt, growth into maturity and, sadly, her loss of love for life. Her later marriage to Pierre is emblematic of this novel's favoring of the characters which reject the superficiality of high society. Their marriage also signifies an optimistic faith in regeneration and change for the better.
Nikolai Rostov: Rostov, brother of Vera, Natasha and Petya, is significant in the early stages of the war with France for his over-zealous desire to serve his country. His machismo is undermined ironically in the narrative, and the length of the novel allows for the necessary space for his character to develop a more mature understanding of conflict. His early promise to marry Sonya and later decision to marry Princess Maria also epitomizes the changes he undergoes.
Petya Rostov: The youngest of the Rostov siblings plays only a minor role in the narrative. His death in battle is particular poignant because of his youthfulness and naivety about warfare.
Pierre Bezuhov: Pierre is one of the main central characters of this novel and his search for meaning in life is a strong narrative thread. Before the death of his father, he is mostly overlooked by those in the upper echelons of society as he is illegitimate and without social graces. Once he inherits a fortune, however, his disastrous marriage to H'l'ne follows shortly after. His new popularity is described ironically. His later marriage to Natasha, after he has been imprisoned by the French, symbolizes how he no longer finds it necessary to continually search for the meaning of life.
Prince Andrei: Prince Andrei initially appears to be cold and distracted as he despairs of his marriage to Lisa and the loss of freedom that has come with this. It is not until he is wounded and she dies in childbirth that he recognizes how guilty he has been in treating her with such aloofness. After grieving for Lisa, he falls in love with Natasha, but this engagement is broken off after Natasha falls for Anatole's charms. However, with Prince Andrei's impending death he and Natasha meet again and Natasha cares for him until he dies.
Prince Vasili Kuragin: He is characteristically manipulative and hypocritical and this is most evident in his dealings with Pierre, once Pierre has inherited a fortune. He is the father of H'l'ne, Anatole and Prince Hippolyte.
Princess Anna Mihalovna Drubetskoy: The mother of Boris, she is an impoverished member of the nobility.
Princess Maria: The sister of Prince Andrei, she spends much of the novel caring for her ill-tempered father and nephew. She is pious and yet complex. Her eventual marriage to Nikolai Rostov affords the opportunity of escape from spinsterhood and a form of closure for the novel.
Sonya: Sonya is the cousin and childhood sweetheart of Nikolai Rostov. Her desire for Rostov appears to be borne of loyalty and devotion, but as the novel unfolds it becomes more obvious that self-interest is her main concern. She continues to live with the Rostov family even after he marries Princess Maria.
Vera: The eldest child of the Rostov siblings, she is for the most part overlooked by her relations and the narrative. She marries Lieutenant Berg.
War and Peace Study GuideChoose to Continue
- War and Peace
- Novel Summary
- Book One
- Book Two
- Book Three
- Book Four
- Book Five
- Book Six
- Book Seven
- Book Eight
- Book Nine
- Book Ten
- Book Eleven
- Book Twelve
- Book Thirteen
- Book Fourteen
- Book Fifteen
- First Epilogue
- Second Epilogue
- Character Profiles
- Metaphor Analysis
- Theme Analysis
- Top Ten Quotes
- Leo Tolstoy
- Essay Q&A