Anna Karenina

Liza's Significance in War and Peace College

Over 1300 pages long, Tolstoy's War and Peace presents characters who disappear as quickly as they appeared. But every single one of them has a particular significance in the broader themes that War and Peace displays, whether that theme be love, society, personal identity, or truth. Though she fades from the narrative eventually, Liza Bolkonskaya, Prince Andrei’s wife, serves as a very important character in many aspects: she offers a foil for Pierre’s relationship with Helen, she is the bridge between rural and urban, and she develops the theme of forgiveness through Andrei. Especially important is her role as the wife of Andrei and the significance that this status has for War and Peace. Through her relationship with Andrei and her death, Liza helps to show why sexual love should not be chosen compared to other, “truer” forms of love. Indeed, Tolstoy portrays different types of relationships, from those that are purely physical, to those that appear completely fake, to those that seem to be perfect. Liza's role, in all this, is to help us better understand why sexual love might be less preferable than spiritual love.

Liza, or the “youthful little Princess Bolkonskaya,” (8) appears as one of the first characters of the novel,...

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