War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy: a Depiction of Russia in the Nineteenth Century
“Be the light in the dark, be the calm in the storm, and be the peace while at war”(Tolstoy). This is exactly what Tolstoy illustrates all throughout his novel as he portrays a realistic fictitious story about the Napoleonic Wars.
This novel is during the early 19th century and first takes place in St.Petersburg around 1805. During the time, the British and the Russian signed the Treaty of Saint Petersburg in order to create an alliance against Napoleon and was later joined by Sweden. The book only continues till 1812 which illustrated Napoleon’s failure to take control of Russia. All throughout the book, Tolstoy illustrates the alliances (especially focusing on the Russians) and how they were able to defeat Napoleon and in the end, found the light and peace during the hard times and struggles.
He starts off by describing the day and the life of the aristocrats living in Russia. He later goes on by describing the Bezukhov, Bolkonskys, and the Rostovs (Russian “aristocrats”) in further detail and their personal relationships. He illustrates throughout his 1200 page novel about the 100 different characters and how they managed to find the light in the darkness or the peace in the war. Napoleon’s invasion of Russia was a turning point in the Russian families. Tolstoy constantly illustrates the tough struggles that the Russian families faced as a result of France advancing. By illustrating poverty and ruined relationships/alliances, Tolstoy sets a very depressing mood and tone in the middle of the novel. However, Tolstoy does this in order to set a great contrast in how the characters were all able to find the light in the darkness toward the end. The novel ends with Tolstoy illustrating how their successful families and close relationships were a reward for enduring and persevering through all the hard wartimes.
Tolstoy has a very clear depiction of life in the early 19th century, despite the fact that the events occurred about 60 years before. Tolstoy spoke with people living during 1805 and read really primary source letters to accurately develop his realistic thoughts about the war. Moreover, his experience in the Crimean War around 1850s also sparked his close illustrations and imagery of the war. Leo Tolstory wrote War and Peace to ensure that we as a society could still find the peace in war despite all of our struggles. War and Peace, a realistic fiction novel, accurately depicts the political and economic conflicts that arose in the early 19th century due to Tolstoy’s primary experience during the Crimean War, his face to face conversations with first hand witnesses, and his readings on primary source documents.
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