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Sunday, 29 June 2014

Nikolay, Marya, Sonya, Natasha

Volume III part II chapter 14 War and Peace
1st meeting, Nikolay Rostov 'rescues' Marya Bolkonskaya. Marya, lonely for a long time and at the moment, grieving her father's death, feeling desolate without her father and brother, fearing the French approaching and feeling helpless among the stubborn peasants who wouldn't let her get away, overflows with gratitude and easily falls in love with him. 
At the same time, she also makes a favourable impression on Nikolay. 
What will happen next? Will he fall in love with Marya? What will he do? How about Sonya? Will he choose Marya or Sonya? 
Nikolay seems to like the gentle, benevolent, sweet type of girl. Not the type that entrances everybody like Helene. Not the type that captivates and fascinates like Natasha. Marya's kind of love is probably like Sonya's, not strong but deep, tender and enduring. Come to think of it, Sonya and Marya are very similar, both are kind, both are bullied in some way (Marya by her own father, Sonya by Nikolay's mother), both suffer and are capable of lots of hardships, both take everything in without hurting anybody or complaining. That doesn't mean they're absolutely alike, of course- Marya's plain, more religious, apparently more passive, less decisive. I might be wrong, but I can't imagine Marya taking action to stop Natasha's elopement the way Sonya does. She seems passive, even slow and not particularly bright. Can't imagine her feeling natural and at ease in make-ups (the beard) like Sonya either. Besides, whilst I sometimes feel sorry for Sonya too, Marya evokes more pity. She's not the kind of person one would like, rather, one feels sorry for her.
Now, after many chapters, and after comparing the female characters, I think I like Natasha more than the others. In spite of everything, she lives. And she has something burning inside. It can be powerful and destructive- for instance, from volume II part IV chapter 10: 
"Maternal instinct told her there was something excessive about Natasha, something that would stop her ever being happy."
And yet, it makes her interesting. 
From volume II part IV chapter 7: 
"What was going on in that childlike, impressionable soul, so eagerly devouring and absorbing all the vast range of impressions that life can offer?" 
She lives. 

1 comment:

  1. I think there are differences between Sonya and Maria also in that Maria is intelligent, and Sonya isn't. Also, Maria, for all her Christian humility, has, underneath it all, a pride - a pride in being a Bolkonsky. After her father dies, she tells herself to behave as her father might have done, as a Bolkonsky.

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