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The Tragedy of Prince Andrei Bolkonsky: A Lost Soul in Search of Himself

The most embarrassing character in “War and Peace” is Prince Andrew. Like his good friend Pierre, he has been struggling to find himself and explore the value of life, but unfortunately he is not as lucky as Pierre. Pierre finally found his true self, reaped sincere love, and realized a happy family life, while Andre passed away early in confusion and pain.

Prince Andrei was born in a noble family, his father was once a leader of the Russian military, but also a eccentric old man who was strict with others. His daughter Maria is extremely sensitive and inferior under his training. Maria’s letters are often checked by her father, because his father does not allow her to say stupid things in the letter. When her father taught Maria geometry lessons, she couldn’t concentrate for fear of being scolded by her father. Occasionally, she forgot to practice the piano at the stipulated time, and Maria immediately panicked, as if a catastrophe was imminent. The old man maintained an unshakeable and regular retirement life, and even if his son Andrei came back from the city, his life pattern would not change.

Seeing the various performances of Andrei’s father, it is not difficult to understand why the capable and smooth Prince Andrei is always depressed and preoccupied.

However, what I can’t understand is: why does Andre take his beautiful, innocent wife, who has been quietly doing handicrafts at the ball and just likes to watch others joke, as his trouble?

Andre advises Pierre not to get married, because if you get married, you will be entangled with women and can’t do anything. The reason why he went to the battlefield turned out to be mainly to be quiet, so as not to be disturbed by his wife all the time. If it hadn’t been for many years later, Andre fell in love with Natasha, who was almost the same type as his late wife. I really thought that Andre would only feel guilty about his wife who died of dystocia, and had no love at all.

For a long time, I couldn’t figure out what kind of person Andre was. However, it seems to be clear now that what Andre hides under his calm appearance is actually a lost soul.

The autocratic father made Andre strongly restrained mentally, and his rebellious personality made him especially want to get rid of this restraint. These two forces fought fiercely in the depths of his heart. He was walking extremely hard on the road of finding himself, so his face was always clouded and there was no smile in sight.
When the forces rebelling against his father triumphed, he longed for sunshine and vitality, so he loved his simple and happy wife, Natasha who was full of vitality. But once he got love, his soul was possessed by his father. He saw the childishness and mediocrity behind the simplicity and happiness, so boredom and coldness occupied his emotional high ground. Regardless of the pleadings of his pregnant wife, he entrusted his wife to his terrible father and his sister, who was almost breathless under the pressure of his father’s authority, just to let his complicated and contradictory soul find peace. At this moment, he couldn’t see at all own cruelty. And he is definitely not a cruel person, otherwise he would not appreciate Pierre, and would not tell Natasha emotionally: Although Pierre looks ridiculous and absent-minded, he has a heart of gold.

When Andre unfortunately fell on the battlefield and was lucky enough to escape from death, he saw the absurdity of war, and his dream of being a hero was shattered. At this moment, he seemed to be fully himself for a brief moment. He returned to his wife at the critical moment of her dystocia. It’s a pity that the vitality of his life had just been awakened, and it quickly disappeared with the death of his wife.

Andre always remembered the resentful look in his wife’s eyes before she died, and guilt engulfed his heart. He said to Pierre: It is enough for a person to live without being condemned by conscience and not getting sick. However, Pierre’s exploration of life at this time has gone one step further than him. Pierre said to Andre: The meaning of life lies in loving others.

However, when Andre was about to forget the past and love the world again, and love the simple and beautiful Natasha, his father’s strength returned. He followed his father’s advice and planned to postpone his marriage to the young Natasha for a year, and gave Natasha full freedom during this period to test their mutual feelings. When he told the bewildered Natasha of his decision and asked if Natasha really loved him, a man who had experienced many vicissitudes, he belonged to him. However, when Natasha eagerly expressed her love for him, Andrei became his father again in an instant. He sensitively saw Natasha’s frivolous side, so he began to doubt his love again.

Andre wavers not only emotionally, but also in work and life. When he was tired of the war and devoted himself to running the farm and raising children, although his heart was ashamed, his heart was peaceful. At this time, he is himself. However, when Natasha’s love revived him, he subconsciously restored his father’s will and returned to officialdom once more. However, the officialdom is still vulgar and filthy, and another high-cold, rebellious self has come out to disturb his heart again. He would rather be an ordinary officer in the company than use his father’s relationship to do a more promising job under Commander Kutuzov.

Andre, who couldn’t find himself, has been wandering around in the vortex of life like a walking dead.

He couldn’t get rid of his father’s shackles, but he desperately wanted to get rid of them.

He wants to have a simple and beautiful love, and always win the heart of a beautiful woman, but he is always vacillating at critical moments, and finally regrets it for the rest of his life.

He can take advantage of his father’s relationship, give full play to his talents, and make his way to success in a logical way. However, he hates the vulgar and snobbish officialdom, and only wants to be with simple and simple soldiers. During the key battles of the Russo-French War, his company remained on standby. He was preoccupied with the soldiers, walking up and down until a shell hit him. He didn’t become a general, he didn’t become a hero, and ultimately he didn’t become himself. He just lost his own life worthlessly without firing a bullet in a criminal war.
Andre’s tragedy surprised me. How could a young life with a perfect background, a heroic and resolute personality, and extraordinary abilities end so hastily?

Can Andre’s tragedy be blamed on his father? I don’t think so. Because his father has long been unable to have any actual control over him, the choice is entirely his own. When Andre’s father passed away, Andre’s younger sister, Maria, miraculously walked out of the shadow of inferiority complex. Not only did she calmly stand alone when the manor was in crisis, but she also gained a sincere love. Looking at it this way, Andre’s father’s education of his children is really not that terrible. Whether he can seek advantages and avoid disadvantages is entirely up to him.

I sigh for Andre, who has played a good hand of fate seriously. Maybe he is too greedy, he wants to be successful, but also wants to be noble; he loves simplicity and happiness, but hates superficial and vulgar; he wants to be like his father, but hates being like his father. In any case, Andre failed to find himself in the end, and could only live a short life in pain.

There is no perfect life, no absolute good life. Not knowing who you are, not knowing what you want, not being able to find your true self, is worse than poverty and disease. What is the meaning of living if you know why you live and can endure any kind of life without knowing yourself correctly?

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