War and Peace

Principal characters in War and Peace

  • Count Pyotr Kirillovich (Pierre) Bezukhov: The large-bodied, ungainly, and socially awkward illegitimate son of an old Russian grandee. Pierre, educated abroad, returns to Russia as a misfit. His unexpected inheritance of a large fortune makes him socially desirable. Pierre is the central character and often a voice for Tolstoy's own beliefs or struggles.
  • Prince Andrey Nikolayevich Bolkonsky: A strong but skeptical, thoughtful and philosophical aide-de-camp in the Napoleonic Wars.
  • Princess Maria Nikolayevna Bolkonskaya: Sister of Prince Andrew, Princess Maria is a pious woman whose eccentric father attempted to give her a good education. The caring, nurturing nature of her large eyes in her otherwise thin and plain face are frequently mentioned.
  • Count Ilya Andreyevich Rostov: The pater-familias of the Rostov family; terrible with finances, generous to a fault.
  • Countess Natalya Rostova: Wife of Count Ilya Rostov, mother of the four Rostov children.
  • Countess Natalya Ilyinichna (Natasha) Rostova: A central character, introduced as "not pretty but full of life" and a romantic young girl, although impulsive and highly strung, she evolves through trials and suffering and eventually finds happiness. She is an accomplished singer and dancer.
  • Count Nikolai Ilyich (Nikolenka) Rostov: An hussar, the beloved eldest son of the Rostov family.
  • Sofia Alexandrovna (Sonya) Rostova: Orphaned cousin of Vera, Nikolai, Natasha, and Petya Rostov.
  • Countess Vera Ilyinichna Rostova: Eldest of the Rostov children, she marries the German career soldier, Berg.
  • Pyotr Ilyich (Petya) Rostov: Youngest of the Rostov children.
  • Prince Vasily Sergeyevich Kuragin: A ruthless man who is determined to marry his children well, despite having doubts about the character of some of them.
  • Princess Elena Vasilyevna (Hélène) Kuragin: A beautiful and sexually alluring woman who has many affairs, including (it is rumoured) with her brother Anatole.
  • Prince Anatole Vasilyevich Kuragin: Hélène's brother and a very handsome and amoral pleasure seeker who is secretly married yet tries to elope with Natasha Rostova.
  • Prince Ippolit Vasilyevich: The eldest and perhaps most dim-witted of the Kuragin children.
  • Prince Boris Drubetskoy: A poor but aristocratic young man driven by ambition, even at the expense of his friends and benefactors, who marries for money, rather than love, an heiress, Julie Karagina.
  • Princess Anna Mihalovna Drubetskaya: The mother of Boris.
  • Fyodor Ivanovich Dolokhov: A cold, almost psychopathic officer, he ruins Nikolai Rostov by luring him into an outrageous gambling debt (by which he, Dolokhov, profits), he only shows love to his doting mother.
  • Adolf Karlovich Berg: A young Russian officer, who desires to be just like everyone else.
  • Anna Pavlovna Scherer: Also known as Annette, she is the hostess of the salon that is the site of much of the novel's action in Petersburg.
  • Maria Dmitryevna Akhrosimova: An older Moscow society lady, she is an elegant dancer and trend-setter, despite her age and size.
  • Amalia Evgenyevna Bourienne: A French woman who lives with the Bolkonskys, primarily as Princess Marya's companion.
  • Vasily Dmitrich Denisov: Nikolai Rostov's friend and brother officer, who proposes to Natasha.
  • Platon Karataev: The archetypal good Russian peasant, whom Pierre meets in the prisoner of war camp.
  • Napoleon I of France: the Great Man, whose fate is detailed in the book.
  • General Mikhail Ilarionovich Kutuzov: Russian commander-in-chief.
  • Osip Bazdeyev: the Freemason who interests Pierre in his mysterious group, starting a lengthy subplot.
  • Tsar Alexander I of Russia: He signed a peace treaty with Napoleon in 1807 and then went to war with him.

Many of Tolstoy's characters in War and Peace were based on real-life people known to Tolstoy himself. His grandparents and their friends were the models for many of the main characters, his great-grandparents would have been of the generation of Prince Vassily or Count Ilya Rostov. Some of the characters, obviously, are actual historic figures.

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