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"War And Peace" By Leo Tolstoy.

1342 words - 5 pages

In the nineteenth century, the Russian Empire had reached it's golden age; the arts and sciences flourished, and metropolitan aristocracy came to resemble that of the French court under King Louis XV or perhaps that of the Antebellum South in the United States. In this social system, the prodigal sons of nobility would join one or another branch of the military to prove their honor and dedication to the motherland.In this time period, Leo Tolstoy's novel, War and Peace, is set. The political themes in War and Peace are highlighted through just those mediums: war and peace. In times of peace, the rulers of the Russian Empire are mostly portrayed as self-centered hypocrites that work only for their own benefit. During such times, Tolstoy displays his dissatisfaction with the type of diplomacy in which the government will do nearly anything to remain in power. In times of war, Russian nobility is characterized as, for the most part, efficient and dependable. The individual characters of the novel lose their faults and assume the roles of upstanding officers in service to their Emperor. Regardless of this fact, Tolstoy states his opinion that a nation's future is in no way controlled by its leaders, but rather by the subjects that make it up.The war in reference is Russia's conflict with Napoleon. The struggle begins when the Russian people feel growing unrest at the way that Buonaparte's regime is treating the aristocracy of France. At the beginning of the book, there is mention of how Napoleon executed the duc d'Enghien, an act that caused much scandal among Europe's nobles who saw this as a threat to their own lofty positions. The engagement of forces at the beginning of the book is a series of conflicts between Napoleonic France and the other European powers starting in the fall of 1805 with the Austerlitz campaign, and climaxing in Napoleon's march upon Russia in the summer of 1812.The book sets the stage in Austria in 1805, where a regiment of the Russian army, led by General Michael Kutuzov, prepares to march against Napoleon as part of the Third Coalition. In this campaign, Prince Andrew Bolknonski joins the army and is assigned as Kutuzov's aide-de-camp. The young noble, who had shown his worst characteristics in the preceding time of peace, shows his best traits at this point. He becomes a dedicated and loyal leader of troops. As such, Tolstoy makes his view clear that it is through war that Russia's nobles exhibit valor and chivalry that perhaps may be lacking in their everyday life in times of peace.Following this, there is a just such a period of peace, during which Russia and France become allies of sorts. Tolstoy takes this moment to make clear his detestation for false politics in which foes become friends and vice versa for the sake of staying in power. Furthermore, Tolstoy uses this time period to show how self-serving Russia's nobles can be by using Pierre Bezukhov to illustrate his point. Having inherited a large sum of money,...

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