Monday, March 10, 2014

Pierre's Enlightenment

I find it interesting that Tolstoy characterizes Pierre's newfound happiness as a return to simplicity: "The absence of suffering, the satisfaction of one's needs and consequent freedom" (p. 896). Tolstoy contrasts Pierre's total faith in man's ability to achieve happiness in life to Andrew's conclusion that "positive happiness is implanted in us merely to torment us and never be satisfied" (p. 896). Pierre is a "feeling" character. Tolstoy implies that those who are too analytical or intellectual will not find joy in life; however, joy is not necessarily the aim of life for every man. I do not believe that Andrew is an inferior character because he achieved self-actualization in death rather than in life. Pierre possesses a disposition towards emotionality and nature while Andrew is more rational and thoughtful but neither is implicitly superior. 

Pierre's enlightenment also immunizes him to the mob mentality that controls the French officers. I find it interesting that while Pierre is a very impressionable character he is able to recognize that a "mysterious force" (p. 898) causes them to act without agency. For the first time in his life, Pierre acts of his own free will. His ability to distinguish when others are not exercising their free will is indicative of the enormous growth he undergoes as a character. 

1 comment:

  1. Alosha, this was a really good point. I had not considered the manner in which Pierre recognizes the group mentality that occurs. Of course, we do have to adjust for the fact that he was part of the out-group, not the in-group, of the group mentality. I wonder, given the first epilogue, in which ways Pierre has achieved happiness or joy and demonstrates his enlightenment.