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Thursday, 26 June 2014

The other side of old prince Bolkonsky

So I wrote that I liked the old man. 
For 1 thing, he has a sharp eye and sees through everyone and everything. Nothing fools him. Good at his job, sharp and responsible, he's unlike the old count Ilya Rostov, the spendthrift, the party animal. 
Also, like a liberal, he teaches Marya maths and sciences, and then lets her decide whether to marry Anatole. Of course, he does have some hints, but he does give Marya the freedom to choose, in spite of his strong disapproval and dislike of the Kuragins. 
However, as I come to volume II part V chapter 6, he's depicted in a different light. He's hot-tempered and irritable to the point of meanness and cruelty- the combination of the political situation in Russia at the time and Andrey's intention to marry Natasha causes his constant bad mood and brings out the worst in him, he becomes a bully, a monster, all day spitting hateful words at his daughter. As I side with Andrey, 1 of my favourite characters, and Marya, whom I feel deeply sorry for, I more and more dislike the grumpy old man. 
That's it. Nobody's perfect. 
The curious part is whether he strongly opposes the marriage between Andrey and Natasha only because of the Rostov family and their wealth, or also Natasha herself. I pay attention to 1 scene, in which Marya asks Pierre about Natasha, implying through her phrasing that she's not well-disposed towards Natasha, and Pierre says he doesn't know much about her, Natasha's not clever, but fascinating, that's all. That makes me think- maybe what she and Liza have in common is charm and vivacity. I like that so far Natasha, unlike some weak women who depend entirely on men, doesn't collapse only because Andrey (or earlier, Boris) isn't around, but she indeed doesn't seem particularly clever (like those Jane Austen heroines), and even sounds quite silly now and then. 
However, that's how I feel now. As I've been repeatedly revising my views on the characters in this huge work, it's very likely that I'll think differently about Natasha later on. 

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