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War and Peace
War and Peace
by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Power

One of the primary issues Tolstoy deals with in War and Peace is power. He asks, "what force moves peoples?" (Epilogue.2.2.1). Tolstoy's big idea in is that power is not something inherent to any...

Warfare

In War and Peace there are no two ways about it: war is a brutal, savage, animalistic thing that goes against human reason. Tolstoy is horrified by the idea that the disagreements of a few people i...

Family

In War and Peace, Tolstoy portrays family life with brutal honestly and an amazing eye for the details that make each household seem real. We are shown several abusive, almost perverse relationship...

Home

Regardless of where and under what circumstances the people who populate War and Peace find themselves, they are always only one step away from creating a circle of domesticity. Even soldiers in-be...

Courage

In War and Peace, the traditional kind of courage – bravery in battle – is often shown to be the result of internal motivations, thoughts, and calculations that have nothing at all to do with w...

Ambition

There's a lot of nuance to the way Tolstoy treats ambition in War and Peace. We have several examples of people who use their inner resources to climb ever higher, but there is no one lesson to be...

Men and Masculinity

War and Peace provides an extraordinarily wide range of ways to be a man, especially when we take into account the general misogyny of Tolstoy's time. Even more unusual, none of the different kinds...

Women and Femininity

Like the book's men, the women of War and Peace represent a broad array of possibilities for their gender. But what makes the book unique is Tolstoy's commitment to nonjudgmental realism when descr...

Morality and Ethics

Most of War and Peace's points about morality are made through quiet, unpunctuated irony – like when we see the standard church service's calls for world peace interrupted by a long sermon urging...

Society and Class

In War and Peace, subtlety tends to be Tolstoy's technique of choice. We see the way the different members of the aristocracy jockey for slightly higher positions within the ranks of society, the g...

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