Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Nature of Epiphanies

    As Book Eight ends and the story shifts from peacetime affairs to war, I noticed that in the last chapter of Book Eight, Pierre has an epiphany while seeing the comet of 1812 dash across the sky. The theme of nature as a source of wisdom and inspiration is not a new one, but what I thought was interesting was how this epiphany is developed compared to earlier ones.
    While this epiphany parallels Andrew's in Book Three, it is distinct because Pierre is in a city when he experiences it and rather than realizing the pointless nature of pursuing glory, he is rising above his everyday existence. Also, this epiphany is the last moment of peacetime before diving back into the war while
Andrew's epiphany came at the end of a war section. What is the significance in depicting Pierre's epiphany this way compared to Andrew's, especially using a phenomenon that is fairly rare and traditionally considered a sign of danger and the end of the world. In terms of plot, what does this foreshadow about the Russian side of war and/or the war in general?


  1. Alex, I think you are very keen to point out the difference in setting between these two epiphanies; while Andrew is on the battlefield, Pierre is in the city. Another thing that distinguishes these two scenes is the issues of agency. While Pierre notices the comet on his own volition, Andrew does not even notice the sky until he is confronted with it as he lies on the ground. In this way, Andrew's epiphany is more forced than Pierre's. This reminds me of our discussion comparing Pierre's self-discovery with the Freemasons and Andrew's enrapture with Natasha. Similar to their epiphanies, Andrew's being taken by Natasha is far more imposing than Pierre's being taken by the Freemasons. This certainly complicates the question of who has more agency between the two characters.

  2. You bring up a really interesting point. Andrew is definitely portrayed as being more responsible and more effective at getting things done than Pierre, such as freeing the serfs. Perhaps Pierre's epiphany is less forced because he is more open to new ideas and not as focused on practical matters as Andrew, who needs something more aggressive to pull him out of his mindset and make a lasting impact on him.