Study Help Essay Questions


1. Discuss what is meant by the statement that"So-called great men serve as visible signs of a process forever concealed." (In your own words, try to restate the discussion from the commentaries on Tolstoy's Second Epilogue.)

2. What does Napoleon symbolize for Prince Andrey and Pierre in Book I? How does this image of Napoleon prefigure their respective careers? (See section Character Analysis as well as commentaries throughout the Notes.)

3. Why did Tolstoy believe that"philosophic principles can only be understood in their concrete expression in history"? (Base your answer on Tolstoy's theory of history throughout the novel as well as in the Second Epilogue.)

4. Discuss how the Bolkonsky family illustrates the two-planed structure of War and Peace (See Analysis on Book I as well as section on Structure.)

5. Some critics believe that War and Peace is an unsatisfactory combination of two novels, the personal novel and the historical novel, with the one aspect taking away vitality from the other. Discuss whether this judgment is accurate or mistaken.

6. What is the function of the historical characters in the novel? (See section Character Analysis.)

7. Describe the careers of Prince Andrey and Pierre in terms of the dual significance of the title, where"War" (according to Professor Janko Lavrin) means the"state of the isolated individual," and"Peace" equals the"state of depersonalized Christian love." (See section on Structure as well as commentaries throughout the Notes.)

8. Discuss the significance of various nature symbols in War and Peace. (See individual commentaries as well as section on Symbols.)

9. What is the significance of Platon Karataev in the novel? Discuss whether you believe he is a credible character. (See Analysis, Book XII, but give your own opinion.)

10. Discuss the Tolstoyan relationship between"free will" and"necessity." (Try to synthesize your discussion from the summary and Analysis on the Second Epilogue, and formulate the answer in your own words.)

11. What does Tolstoy express by his historically inaccurate"apotheosis of Kutuzov" and by his satirical depiction of Napoleon? (See commentaries throughout the Notes as well as relevant sections in Critical Analysis.)