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Significant Presences in War and Peace and Anna Karenina

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 10:20 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 33.6 
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The two novels, War and Peace and Anna Karenina are both revolutionary tales encompassing philosophic themes, hidden truths and the unfaltering importance of society in a country where internal turmoil and instability reigns. These societies are unique; the amount of depth for each character, level of multidimensionality, and the integration of characters worked together to generate a realistic Russian culture. In both of these novels, however, there is one character that is imperative to the development and organization of the novel. These characters do not always appear frequently throughout the chapters but permeate every societal sector and are centrally involved in the main themes surrounding these two pieces of literature.

In the novel War and Peace, there is one political figure that is central to the development of the whole novel. This character does not appear often, yet the French Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte, is the topic of conversation for the whole population. From the opening of the novel; it is readily apparent that this solitary man dominates all conversations and thoughts of society. Anna Pavlovna Scherer states in the beginning, “if you will allow yourself to condone all the ghastly atrocities perpetrated by that Antichrist—yes, that’s what I think he is—I shall disown you” (War 5).   While Scherer’s contempt is shared by many of the other characters, the infatuation with war and Bonaparte did not dissipate. The contradicting opinions of Napoleon were also visible at the estate of Prince Nicholas Bolkonski. Three characters got into a heated discussion and Andrew had the audacity to disagree with his father on the subject of Bonaparte. This disagreement represents the depth in which to Bonaparte has permeated society; he represented the strain of war on families and relationships. As the novel progressed, Napoleon became the symbol of war and suffering for the whole of Russian society. This was a drastic change from the original idea of...

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