Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > A Cold, White Light: The Defamiliarizing Power of Death in Tolstoy's War and Peace

In this thesis, I examine the theme of death in War and Peace by Lev Tolstoy. Death in War and Peace causes changes in characters' perception of their own lives, spurring them to live better. Tolstoy is widely understood to embed moral lessons in his novels, and, even in his early work, Tolstoy presents an ideal of the right way to live one's life. I posit several components of this Tolstoyan ideal from War and Peace and demonstrate that death leads characters toward this right way through an analysis of the role of death in the transformations of four major characters--Nikolai, Marya, Andrei, and Pierre.