War and Peace
by Leo Tolstoy
War and Peace Women and Femininity Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Volume.Part.Chapter.Paragraph). We used Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky's translation.
"No, do promise, do promise, Basile," Anna Mikhailovna said behind him, with the smile of a young coquette, which must have suited her very well once, but now did not go with her emaciated face.
She evidently forgot her age and employed, out of habit, all her old feminine resources. But as soon as he left, her face again acquired the same cold, sham expression it had had before. She went back to the circle, where the viscount was going on with his story, and again pretended to listen, waiting for the moment to leave, since her business was done. (220.127.116.11-37)
Does the society described in this novel give many resources to women for accomplishing what they want, other than their looks and sexuality?
Anna Mikhailovna was already embracing her and weeping. The countess was also weeping. They wept because they were friends; and because they were kind; and because they, who had been friends since childhood, were concerned with such a mean subject—money; and because their youth was gone....But for both of them they were pleasant tears....(18.104.22.168)
What a great little scene of long-term friendship. Each woman knows what the other is feeling without having to express it. They share in the same disappointments over time passing and old age approaching. It's also really a rare thing to see female friendship that isn't in any way a competition, or with one woman secretly out to betray the other.
"for me marriage is a divine institution to which one must conform oneself. However painful it may be for me, if the Almighty imposes upon me the duties of a wife and mother, I shall try to fulfill them as faithfully as I can, without troubling myself with the examination of my feelings regarding him whom he will give me for a husband." (22.214.171.124)
This is what Marya says in her letter to Julie while her father is still alive and someone is at the house potentially looking to marry her. Could there be any sadder description of what she thinks married life is all about? And is it any surprise that she's expecting to go from being abused and oppressed by her dad to being abused and oppressed by some new guy?