Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace speculates deeply about history, religious life and human brotherhood. Most readers focus on the characters of Natasha, Prince Andrew, and Pierre. Another character named Sonya, who is an orphaned cousin, is staying with the Rostov family. Sonya is overshadowed by the other characters, however, she is vital to the rounding out of the other characters in the novel.
The people she loves most take her life of commitment and sacrifice for granted. The reader is thus also inclined to give little emphasis to her role in their lives and in the novel as a whole. As someone who has essentially nothing, Sonya is willing to give everything she has to those she loves. She gives of herself willingly and thanklessly. This life of sacrifice truly embodies Sonya’s generous character. This genuine nature of her character allows her to reveal so much about those with whom she interacts throughout the novel. With Sonya’s seeming “simplicity” in the background, Tolstoy fully develops the characters of Natasha and Nicholas. He uses Sonya as a contrast for his heroine, Natasha, and also as a chart of growth for Natasha’s brother, Nicholas. Tolstoy even uses Sonya as a contrast to Princess Mary. Here, if one looks deeper, one will find that there is very little contrast at all between the two women. Most importantly, Sonya is an illustration of society’s effects on a poor selfless young girl who puts her needs below those of all others. Tolstoy employs Sonya’s character in a variety of situations. Without Sonya, a great deal of his novel’s depth and richness would be lost.
Sonya is first introduced as Count Rostov’s fifteen-year-old niece who …
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Just as the characters in the novel never really appreciate all that Sonya does for them, the reader puts very little emphasis on all that Sonya does to enhance the entire novel. Sonya serves as a truly reflective mirror to Natasha who “never needed to sacrifice herself, but made others sacrifice themselves for her and yet was beloved by everybody”(903). Sonya’s presence also helps the growth of Nicholas and reveals a great deal about the society in which she lives. The importance of Sonya’s character to War and Peace is immense, yet overshadowed by characters deemed more “important” than she. Sonya tends to be put in the background of this novel as she is put in the background of the lives of those whom she loves. Without her Leo Tolstoy’s novel would greatly diminished.
Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace, Book of the Month Club, Inc., New York.
Free Essays on Wharton’s Ethan Frome: Unselfish and Stupid Ethan
Unselfish and Stupid Ethan Frome
Ethan Frome was an unselfish man, he looked out for the interests of others and acted to serve them rather than himself. Though this attitude is normally considered a wonderful characteristic it proved to be Ethan Frome’s undoing. All of Ethan’s troubles were a direct result of his unselfishness and strict moral standards. The life that Ethan lived, the plot of the story, could have been drastically changed, and most likely changed for the better had Ethan considered the effects of his actions and decisions upon himself.
Ethan was an intelligent man, he had high dreams for himself as an engineer, and he wanted to have a life away from the ceaseless drudgery of life in Starksville. When his mother died leaving Zeena without a place to go, Ethan, being the kind man he was, offered to marry her because he felt obligated to do so. This decision however shut out his hopes for a better life. In order for Ethan to get an education he must have money. In order for Ethan to get money he must sell the farm. And with a new wife to take care of he could not possibly manage it. Ethan’s decision to marry Zeena had fettered his social mobility and had brought about the backlash of Zeena’s discontent.
Ethan further brought on the wrath of Zeena when he chose to get involved with Mattie. Ethan cared a great deal for Mattie and didn’t’ want Zeena to take her from him. Because Mattie was not well suited to be a maid and frequently made mistakes Ethan would help her with her chores. Ethan also comforted her and tried to hide her shortcomings from Zeena. However his efforts to help Mattie ended up hurting him. Zeena was most definitely aware of Ethan’s fondness of Mattie; she insinuated this when she locked Ethan and Mattie out of the house. Besides helping Mattie with her chores Ethan stood up for her and stood up for her in front of Zeena. When the cat broke the pickle dish when Zeena was away at seeing a doctor Ethan went out of his way to try to cover it up. He concocted a plan to buy some glue and put the dish back together so that Zeena wouldn’t notice. When that plan failed and Zeena found the broken dish, Ethan was willing to take the blame instead of Mattie.