War and Peace

Pierre's Abortive Mission

Throughout War and Peace, Pierre exhibits Tolstoy's ideals of passivity, humility, and passion. However, even Pierre succumbs to self-centered willfulness. He uses a highly contrived occult numerology and calculates the value of almost every possible rendition of his name until he reaches L'russe Besuhof, which, when added up, yields the number "666." Pierre concludes that this coincides with the numerological value of Napoleon's name, and with an outrageous stretch of logic, he decides that he has a divine mission to alter history by assassinating Napoleon. By subscribing to the belief that Napoleon is the sole demonic cause behind the destruction of Europe, and that he himself is the man destined to alter the course of events for the salvation of Russia and Europe, Pierre succumbs to the myth of the Great Man that Tolstoy so fervently opposes. Despite this shift from passivity to an aggressive willfulness, Pierre is simply incapable of maintaining such a false mentality without faltering and eventually forsaking it. Tolstoy shows us that Pierre's passion is constantly puncturing his rational plan.

Though Pierre uses every bit of his rational powers to come to his apocalyptic conclusion and to plan out...

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