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 War and Peace Study Guide (Choose to Continue)

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War and Peace: Metaphor Analysis

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The burning of Moscow
This historical fact is also used symbolically to represent the strength of the Russian populace in the face of occupation. This act is embraced as a decision to avoid submission to the enemy. It is given a seal of approval in that the enemies are refused complicity in their actions.
The complexity of this novel also demonstrates that the burning of Moscow was likely because it was predominantly constructed with wood and an occupying foreign army was plundering it. Therefore, it is a figurative and literal occurrence, which is also described as a chance event. This furthers the novel's hypothesis that notions such as 'genius' and 'greatness' in leaders should be avoided: chance and the combined wills of hundreds of thousands of people offer more relevant historical explanations.
The opera
Natasha's visit to the opera is of interest in terms of the plot as this is where she encounters Anatole, which leads to the breakdown in her relationship with Prince Andrei. It is also of figurative importance as Natasha's initial discomfort with the obvious artificiality of the stage eventually becomes acceptable to her. The opera represents a condensed understanding of how Natasha is at first alienated by the machinations of society life, but is eventually seduced by its superficiality as is evident in her affection for Anatole. This is symbolized when she decides to sit with the beautiful but destructive Helene.
The sky
When Prince Andrei is wounded, and when Pierre recognizes his love for Natasha, both men look up to the sky and discover a form of solace in this act. The sky represents an escape from worldly concerns and symbolizes a love of God and optimism too. The material world then becomes demonstrably minor in contrast with the heavens.
These key moments when Pierre and Prince Andrei look upwards are representative of how both men have been previously dissatisfied with their lives. Both are used as ciphers to discuss the optimistic possibility of regeneration (and renewal and re-birth) and the sky symbolizes the positive belief that such changes can occur.




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