Prince Nikolay Andrei[vi]tch Bolkonsky Scion of an ancient and honorable family, now an old man, who clings more and more to the values of an outdated feudal society.
Prince Andrey Bolkonsky His son and heir, who is an intensely intellectual, basically egotistical young man who seeks to exchange his sense of alienation for a sense of being at one with the world. His quest affirms his nihilism.
Princess Marya Bolkonsky A plain, graceless young woman who sustains her lonely life by a strong Christian piety.
Mademoiselle Bourienne Marya's companion, an orphaned Frenchwoman of a frivolous and opportunistic nature.
Nikolushka, later Nikolinka Prince Andrey's son, who attains adolescence by the end of the novel.
Princess Liza Bolkonsky Andrey's wife, a silly, chattering society girl who never grows up and who dies in childbirth.
Count Kirill Vladmirovitch Bezuhov An old man, once a grandee in Catherine's court, who dies early in the novel after legitimizing his oldest son, to whom he leaves vast wealth.
Pierre Bezuhov The hero of the novel and the old count's son, whose spiritual development is the best expression of Tolstoy's philosophy.
Count Ilya Rostov A gregarious, good-natured, and generous family man whose interest in maintaining his family's pleasures contributes to his financial ruination.
Countess Natalya Rostov His wife, a typical Russian noblewoman, whose main interests center within the family.
Natasha Rostov The heroine of the novel and a bewitching young girl whom Tolstoy regards as the creature-manifestation of love, nature, and femininity.
Nikolay Rostov The oldest son, who is an officer in the hussars and who later marries Marya Bolkonsky. He is an unimaginative young man who believes that doing one's duty is the highest virtue of the individual.
Vera Rostov The eldest child, who marries Alphonse Berg, an opportunistic youth of German descent.
Petya Rostov The youngest child, whose vivacity is closest to that of Natasha and who dies prematurely near the end of the war.
Sonya The Rostov's poor relation whom they raise with their own children. She devotes her life to loving Nikolay but never marries him.
Boris Drubetskoy Son of a friend of Countess Rostov who has been educated with the Rostov children. Boris becomes important in court circles and is a career-man in the army.
Prince Vassily A well-practiced courtier whose life is a series of political and social maneuvers to maintain prestige.
Ippolit Kuragin His dull-witted son, who would like to compromise Andrey's wife, Liza.
Anatole Kuragin An avowed hedonist whose handsomeness attracts both Princess Marya, whom he would like to marry for her fortune, and Natasha, whom he all but seduces.
Ellen Kuragin, later Countess Bezuhov A beautiful sensualist who married Pierre and who becomes a celebrated salonniere.
Major Historical Figures
Napoleon Tolstoy uses him as the outstanding example of the"great man" who is so deluded by his own mystique he cannot see himself as history's unwitting tool.
Kutuzov Commander-in-chief of the Russian forces, whom Tolstoy apotheosizes as the"Russian of Russians" whose intuitive power and humble self-image contribute to the victory.
Alexander I Tsar of the Russias whose divine-right function denies his personal existence. He is depicted as a noble figurehead.
Speransky The intellectual young secretary of state whom Tolstoy treats ironically. Speransky believes his motives are to liberalize and enlighten the operations of government, whereas his real motives are to belittle others.
Wintzengerode, Pfuhl, Weierother, and others Prussian generals whom Tolstoy makes fun of for their mechanistic and"scientific" interest in war.
Prince Bagration General hailed as the"hero of Austerlitz." Tolstoy shows that in reality he was a passive leader in the midst of numerous, separate events which compose the battle of Austerlitz.
Platon Karataev More symbolic than real, this peasant is Pierre's fellow prisoner and the inspiration of Bezuhov's conversion.
Vaska Denisov Captain of Nikolay's regiment who falls in love with, and is rejected by, Natasha. He is Nikolay's mentor in battle and performs the same function later for Petya Rostov.
Dolohov Penniless cardsharp, notorious as a bully. His cruelty and bravery play a part in various incidents in the novel.
Anna Pavlovna Scherer Celebrated St. Petersburg hostess who constantly schemes to maintain her prestige in court circles.