As we have finished our Fourth Book from War and Peace, we obviously know Tolstoy has a way with words. We've established that we like some characters, dislike others, yet many times we are not sure why we feel like this; we are just enraptured by Tolstoy and his prowess. For this reason, I would like to talk about the women of War and Peace, their portrayal and our feelings about it, and potentially get some of your insight on how you relate to some characters as opposed to others.
In this book we have met Lise, Andrei's wife, who does not have a fair fate and her destiny is relatively tragic. Nevertheless, even now, reading this book the second time, I cannot relate to her at all and I keep on empathizing with Andrew. Lise is beautiful, charming in society and does not have any traits to make her displeasing other than her husband's dissatisfaction with her. Does anyone else share the same feelings about Lise?
Helene is a character that we don't even see that much, she is mostly portrayed as an object of veneration for men because of her looks. However, even before we quite understand she has an affair with her brother or before she starts cheating on Pierre, we dislike her. Is it because we don't know her as anything else but a marble figure? Is it because we think she is not worth of Pierre or because she appears to be shallow? Mary is at the opposite end of the spectrum, we learn that she has very intense spiritual feelings, that she is in tune with her thoughts and has a powerful will to understand, but she is not as beautiful as Helene, she lacks social skills and she oftentimes seems naive. I personally am fascinated by Mary and can't understand how I paid so little attention to her the first time I read the book. Why don't we dislike Mary despite her lack of beauty and charm? Why does it seem so unremarkable that she lacks beauty even if Tolstoy emphasizes her plainness every chance he gets?
Of course there's Natasha, but I still think of her as a child and as a rather undeveloped character, there's also Sonya, perhaps Anna Mikhaylovna. Who is compelling to you, whom do you dislike and why?
I have a few more opinions on why Tolstoy is constructing the characters the way he is, but I will save them for until after I receive a few comments on the topic to see if we are on the same page.