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The Power Of Interior Monologues In War And Peace

2740 words - 11 pages

     War and Peace probed into the human essence and its search for the truths of life. Tolstoy focused on two men to represent and carry the burden of finding those ethereal values. Throughout the novel, he utilized numerous images, symbols, dialogue, and foreshadowing to advance the progress of his characters. Yet, his most effective use of technical device can be found in describing the psychological thoughts and interior monologues of the characters. Most notably, the thoughts of Pierre and Andrei served to portray their spiritual changes better than by what they did, and also helped to foretell and build suspense to upcoming actions. By doing so, Tolstoy furthered the plot and created a realistic world from which to study characters who acted, talked, and most importantly, thought as real human beings do in the same situations.


The magnanimity of Tolstoy's use of internal actions rather than external actions has far reaching effects to this day. Pierre and Andrei underwent a drastic change, and because of this critics compare them to Tolstoy himself. Tolstoy grew up in an aristocratic household, but because he wanted to live life as it should be lived, he also searched for the answers to the problem of life. Like Pierre and Andrei, he faced many difficulties in his journey, but eventually found salvation in the basic values of simplicity, understanding of life and death, and love of all creatures. Thus, Tolstoy, Pierre, and Andrei transformed themselves through pain and suffering to attain a higher level of spirituality, notably mimicking the legendary change of St. Paul the Apostle. In addition to his connections with the Christian St. Paul, Tolstoy also laid down the foundations for Buddhist Zen in the western world. Many Zen masters consider Tolstoy "a God," because of his introduction of the values of simplicity and life that Zen masters had taught in the east for centuries. Truly a pioneer, he managed to profess these beliefs in a fictitious novel that has become one of the masterpieces of western and world literature. Upon further examination of "War and Peace," he expresses these Zen and early Christian beliefs specifically through the mental thoughts of Pierre, Andrei, and even the mythical Platon. Though not as skilled a writer of the human mind as his compatriot, Fyodor Dostoevsky, he did meritoriously utilize Pierre's and Andrei's mental awareness and psychological changes of consciousness to foreshadow upcoming actions and to present the Zen belief, so popular in the modern western world today.


Tolstoy introduces his first main character, Pierre Bezukhov, at Anna Pavlovna's soire. Pierre will experience several mental awakenings into the meaning of life that eventually builds up into a climactic revelation that changes his life forever. In essence, Pierre's life progresses mainly through his thoughts and feelings rather than through his actions. Of all the major characters, he partakes in the least...

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