Sunday, February 23, 2014

Natasha and Andrew

by Alosha Southern

I found the description of the relationship between Natasha and Prince Andrew to be one of the most complex manifestations of romantic love in the novel. While other relationships have centered on initial
infatuation (Pierre and Helene, Andrew and Lise) and then quickly disintegrated, the arc of Natasha and Andrew’s relations differs sharply. Having known her as a girl, Andrew is struck by the liveliness and genuine quality of Natasha’s character and she evidently recognizes a similarly authentic aspect in him (Andrew is after all, criticized for being curt in society as he refuses to put up the proper façade of polite interest in people he regards poorly), or is she just a young girl being swept off her feet for the first time? Do you think Natasha’s love for Andrew will fade over time?

What I found most interesting was the scene when Andrew proposes and “something in him had suddenly changed; there was no longer the former poetic and mystic charm of desire, but there was pity for her feminine and childlike weakness, fear at her devotion and trustfulness, and an oppressive yet joyful sense of the duty that now bound him to her forever. The present feeling, though not so bright and poetic as the former, was stronger and more serious (422).” It is in this moment that the “honeymoon phase” of their relationship comes to an end, and while the love Andrew feels for Natasha is not intensely romantic, Tolstoy describes this new love as being more enduring, more mature. At first, I found it depressing how this new emotion encompassed pity, fear, and an oppressive sense of duty. However, in reality, human emotions are always incredibly nuanced, and so it is not impossible or even surprising that Andrew could fear/pity Natasha while still loving her. Furthermore, the simple fact that Andrew can mentally articulate these reservations he has about their relationship speaks volumes; Pierre felt a vague sense of forboding concerning Helene, but failed to analyze those feelings earlier.

Image source:Ростова_пастернак.jpeg.  Artist: Leonid Pasternak.


  1. I do think Natasha's love for Andrew will fade. From what we just read for Monday, I think we've begun to see her love for Andrew fade and her love for Pierre to materialize. What saddens me now, in relation to the complex emotions Andrew felt for Natasha, is how Andrew can close them off so quickly. All that remains of it (and as the war picks up and gets closer to Bald Hills, this feeling pretty much disappears) is the anger towards Anatole and the wish for revenge. How deep can Andrew emotions go? Would his life with Natasha completely changed him? Even his emotions for his son, which were so strong at first, are now hardly relevant.

  2. While I understand Cynthia's point about what we've seen in both Natasha and Andrew recently - I also think there is a different way to look at this. Natasha's regrets after she finds out the truth about Anatole and her desire to ask for Andrew's forgiveness I believe comes from her respect and remaining love for him. I think it is easy for her as a young girl to be blinded by the desire she had for Anatole and by his presence when she had been waiting for Andrew for so long.

    When it comes to Andrew - I think he is hiding his true feelings from himself. He is angry, upset and still loves her and he seeks revenge because that is the way he knows how to deal with grief - in a harsh, manly way, similar to his stern father. Pierre's insight in Andrew's apparently careless manner of dealing with things points out that he is only putting on a show for everyone else not to know how affected he is.

    I agree with Alosha here - I think their love is probably one of the most sincere we encounter in the book. However, I recognize that I may be biased because I know how things will turn out for everyone in the end.

  3. Even though we have read much further by now and know that the love between Andrew and Natasha endures, I think that Cynthia's point about Pierre is still relevant. Obviously Pierre is in love with Natasha, and she clearly feels compassion and affection for him as well. I do think it is possible for a person to love two people at the same time, and I think this is the case for Natasha, although perhaps she has a more romantic attraction to Andrew than Pierre. Tolstoy contrasts Natasha's love for two men with Helene's dilemma as a result of having sexual relations with more than one man. I think Tolstoy's message is that there is nothing wrong with loving more than one person, as long as this love is based on genuine appreciation of a person's character rather than physical desire.

    As for Iulia's point about Andrew hiding his feelings as part of a masculine script, I think it is interesting that Andrew's epiphany towards Natasha occurs when he has been wounded and feminized in the way that he is completely helpless and fragile. Is it only because any pretensions of masculinity have been forcibly stripped from him that he is finally able to recognize his true emotions for her?