A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow


Amor Towles

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Themes and Colors
Imprisonment, Freedom, and Purpose Theme Icon
Change and Adaptation Theme Icon
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
Chance, Luck, and Fate Theme Icon
Bolshevism and Class Struggle Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in A Gentleman in Moscow, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Imprisonment, Freedom, and Purpose

A Gentleman in Moscow begins in 1922 and centers on the life of Russian aristocrat Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov. Before the novel’s opening, the Count had lived a life of luxury in Moscow’s Metropol hotel. When a poem with revolutionary subtext is attributed to the Count, however, he is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol for the remainder of his lifetime. At first, the Count feels severe isolation, anxiety, and aimlessness because of his…

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Change and Adaptation

Though A Gentleman in Moscow focuses on the Count’s thirty-two-year confinement in a Moscow hotel, Towles also explores the social and political landscape outside the hotel, detailing the drastic shifts occurring in Russian society from 1922 to 1954, due mostly to the rise of the Communist Bolshevik Party. Towles examines these large shifts by exploring their effects on individuals within his narrative, as each character tries to adjust to the changing political landscape. On an…

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Friendship, Family, and Love

At the beginning of the Count’s house arrest, he experiences a deep sense of isolation and loneliness. His lack of mobility makes him unable to visit most of his friends and family, many of whom fled Russia after the political revolution. Yet the friendships and love that he is able to cultivate in the Metropol become even more important to him than his previous familial relationships. Unlike the Count’s relationships with his relatives, these new…

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Chance, Luck, and Fate

A Gentleman in Moscow highlights how small decisions and interactions add up to life-changing events. The novel makes a point of documenting the effects of seemingly small incidents, like a hair appointment gone awry or the slip and fall of a man before a party. Ultimately, Towles uses these small incidents to show that the big events that define a life are actually the result of small chance occurrences. In crafting a narrative in which…

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Bolshevism and Class Struggle

The political backdrop of A Gentleman in Moscow largely focuses on the rise of the Communist Bolshevik Party following the Russian Revolution of 1917. The Count is often at odds with the Bolsheviks because he was a member of the nobility, which the Bolsheviks abolished after the revolution. Although the story focuses on the Count, Towles makes a point of providing different perspectives on Bolshevism and the class struggle. On the one hand, the Bolsheviks…

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