War and Peace

The Tolstoyan Ideal of Divine Love: Platon and Natasha Examined 11th Grade

In War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy clearly values characteristics such as spontaneity, honesty, vitality, and liveliness. He makes this obvious to the reader through narratives that indicate that he values forms of naturalness over forms of artificiality. In the novel, Tolstoy’s exoteric message is that a devotion to divine love, or a love for all things that exist, is the best way to live. However, in comparing two important characters, Platon Karataev and Natasha Rostova, his esoteric message seems to be that most people cannot be completely devoted to divine love, as those who understand, or who come to understand, divine love almost always do so at their peril or at their end.

Platon, a middle aged, Russian soldier taken prisoner in a French controlled Moscow, is eventually shot by two French soldiers, because he is sick and weak, and can’t keep up with the rest of the prisoners. Tolstoy holds Platon up as ideal for his honesty, his balance of masculinity and femininity, and his traditional Russian peasant manner which evokes vitality and earthliness. Natasha, a young Russian woman, is also very natural, and this is apparent from the moment she is introduced in the novel; bursting into a room, knocking over some items and...

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