Prince Andrei Bolkonsky
Prince Andrei is the son of Prince Nikolai Bolkonsky and brother of Princess Marya Bolkonsky. At the beginning of the novel, he is married to Lise, “the little princess,” but he’s discontent with married… read analysis of Prince Andrei Bolkonsky
Pierre is an illegitimate son of Petersburg’s wealthy, dying Count Bezukhov. He was educated in Paris and, when he returns to Petersburg as a young man, he’s socially awkward and unfamiliar with Russian aristocratic… read analysis of Pierre Bezukhov
Natasha, daughter of the Count and Countess Rostov, is an irrepressibly lively young girl who charms people even when her impulsive behavior breaches noble social norms. Natasha throws herself wholeheartedly into the things and… read analysis of Natasha Rostov
Nikolai is the eldest Rostov son. Throughout the novel, he’s often simply referred to as “Rostov.” He and his younger sister Natasha are close friends. Nikolai serves in the war of 1805 with the Pavlogradsky… read analysis of Nikolai Rostov
Prince Nikolai Bolkonsky
Prince Nikolai, father of Prince Andrei and Princess Marya, lives on a rural estate called Bald Hills. He spends his time tutoring Princess Marya and improving his property. Though he loves his daughter and… read analysis of Prince Nikolai Bolkonsky
Count Rostov, husband of Countess Rostov and father of Vera, Nikolai, Natasha, and Petya, is a cheerful, generous man who lovingly indulges his family and enjoys the good things in life… read analysis of Count Rostov
Countess Rostov, wife of Count Rostov and mother of Vera, Nikolai, Natasha, and Petya, is painfully aware of her family’s tenuous financial and social situation and has a sharp… read analysis of Countess Rostov
Sonya, 15 at the start of the novel, is Count Rostov’s cousin. The Rostovs have taken her in because she’s orphaned and without means. She has strong romantic feelings for her second cousin Nikolai… read analysis of Sonya Rostov
Petya is the youngest of the Rostov children, idealistic and emotional. In 1812, he’s desperate to join the army and swoons in a crowd at the Kremlin while waiting for a glimpse of Emperor Alexander… read analysis of Petya Rostov
Hélène Kuragin Bezukhov
Princess Hélène is Prince Vassily’s famously beautiful daughter. Unseemly rumors swirl around her, as she’s said to have many sexual affairs, even with her brother, Anatole. Though Pierre finds her vacuous and morally… read analysis of Hélène Kuragin Bezukhov
Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov was a historical figure whom Tolstoy adapts for the novel. During the war of 1805, he is the commander in chief of the Russians fighting in Austria. He is noted (and vilified… read analysis of General Kutuzov
Napoleon is the Emperor of France and Russian Emperor Alexander I’s antagonist in the Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon is characterized as short and stout with a springy walk, and he is exaggeratedly self-confident, regarding his… read analysis of Napoleon Bonaparte
Emperor Alexander I
At the beginning of the novel, Russia’s Emperor is viewed by his people as an idealized savior of Russia and Europe. He is a handsome, mild-mannered young man with a gentle voice and is often… read analysis of Emperor Alexander I
Princess Lise (Liza) Bolkonsky (“the little princess”)
Lise or Liza Bolkonsky is Prince Andrei’s first wife, a young beauty who charms everyone. She is sensitive and quick to tears, and Prince Andrei can be impatient and downright scornful with her. She’s… read analysis of Princess Lise (Liza) Bolkonsky (“the little princess”)
Nikolai Andreich (Nikolushka or Nikolenka) Rostov
Nikolushka is Prince Andrei’s son. His mother, Princess Lise, died giving birth to him. When Nikolushka is seven, his father dies. At 15, he especially admires his uncle Pierre and wants to be… read analysis of Nikolai Andreich (Nikolushka or Nikolenka) Rostov
Prince Vassily Kuragin
Prince Vassily is a frequent guest at Anna Pavlovna Scherer’s Peterburg soirées. He is a shameless social climber, always looking to exploit relationships for his and his children’s gain. Though his plans aren’t usually… read analysis of Prince Vassily Kuragin
Anatole is one of Prince Vassily’s sons, known as an amoral good-for-nothing. He looks at life as entertainment, nothing more, and he doesn’t worry about the consequences of his actions for himself… read analysis of Anatole Kuragin
An unscrupulous army officer who’s friends with Anatole Kuragin. He’s a notorious gambler, cold-hearted, and remains clear-headed no matter how much he drinks. After getting demoted for antics involving a bear in Petersburg, he… read analysis of Dolokhov
Boris is Anna Mikhailovna Drubetskoy’s son. He serves in the Semyonovsky guards. He and Natasha have a mutual crush before he goes off to war, though he discourages Natasha from kissing him in secret… read analysis of Boris Drubetskoy
Julie Karagin Drubetskoy
Julie Karagin is a wealthy young woman of Moscow. Young Nikolai Rostov flirts with her, provoking Sonya’s jealousy. Julie is friends with Princess Marya Bolkonsky and often exchanges letters with her. As Julie grows… read analysis of Julie Karagin Drubetskoy
Princess Anna Mikhailovna Drubetskoy
Anna Mikhailovna, a close friend of the Rostovs as well as a member of Petersburg society, is obsessed with securing a good social position for her son Boris. At the beginning of the War… read analysis of Princess Anna Mikhailovna Drubetskoy
Denisov is Nikolai Rostov’s squadron commander in the Pavlogradsky hussars. Nikolai looks up to Denisov, and they become friends. After multiple visits to the Rostov home, Denisov proposes to Natasha in the winter of… read analysis of Captain Denisov
Bagration (a real historical figure) is a Russian general in 1805–6 and a commander during Napoleon’s invasion in 1812. In 1805, Kutuzov sends Bagration’s vanguard to delay the French, successfully misleading the French into… read analysis of Prince Bagration
Anna Pavlovna Scherer
Anna Pavlovna is a middle-aged Petersburg society lady, a maid of honor to the Emperor’s mother. She hosts cultured soirées where important people mingle and discuss politics. Prince Vassily Kuragin is a frequent guest… read analysis of Anna Pavlovna Scherer
Platon is a fellow prisoner whom Pierre meets while in French custody. He is a gentle, wise peasant who reassures Pierre and seems to be “the embodiment of everything Russian.” He is full of homespun… read analysis of Platon Karataev
Osip (Iosif) Alexeevich Bazdeev
Bazdeev is a prominent Mason whom Pierre meets at a crisis point in his life. He is an elderly, squat, wrinkled man with glittering eyes. He has a kindly yet penetrating demeanor that quickly wins… read analysis of Osip (Iosif) Alexeevich Bazdeev
Marya Dmitrievna Akhrosimov
Marya Dmitrievna is a formidable, opinionated widow and Natasha’s godmother. The Rostovs stay with her in Moscow during the winter of 1810–1811. She purchases Natasha’s wedding trousseau and gives… read analysis of Marya Dmitrievna Akhrosimov
Ramballe is a gregarious French officer who chooses Bazdeev’s house for his quarters upon invading Moscow. When Pierre saves him from being shot by the madman Makar Alexeevich, Ramballe decides Pierre is an… read analysis of Captain Ramballe
Vera is the eldest Rostov child. She tends to be a scolding, sour older sister and doesn’t mind when she alienates the younger siblings. She marries Berg. Her biggest passion in life is to throw parties that are just like everybody else’s.
Prince Vassily’s foolish son.
Mademoiselle Amélie Bourienne is Princess Marya’s companion at Bald Hills. She is a cheerful, outgoing young woman, but she has no qualms about flirting with Marya’s suitors and isn’t a particularly faithful friend.
Count Kirill Vladimirovich Bezukhov
Count Bezukhov, Pierre’s father, is a Russian courtier dating back to Catherine the Great’s time. He has many illegitimate children, but Pierre is his favorite, and it is Pierre who gets the Count’s inheritance. He is known to have a temper, which Pierre also has inherited.
A young Polish count who sponsors Pierre’s membership in the Masons.
A Mason who guides Pierre through his Masonic initiation.
An ambitious Russian general who is obsessed with promotion.
One of Princess Marya’s “people of God,” a wandering pilgrim who tells Prince Andrei and Pierre about a miracle-working icon.
Speransky was a powerful adviser to Emperor Alexander who undertook various liberal reforms. In 1809, he appoints Prince Andrei to revise the civil law code. The intellectual Speransky has a magnetic personality and Andrei idealizes him at first, but just as quickly finds him distastefully artificial.
Arakcheev is a grumpy minister of war who, in 1809, appoints Prince Andrei to the commission on military regulations.
Mme Marya Ignatievna Peronsky
A friend of Countess Rostov and a lady-in-waiting of the previous emperor’s court. She secures a grand ball invitation for the Rostovs in Petersburg despite the family’s modest social position.
Count Rostov’s unscrupulous steward who takes advantage of him.
Nikolai’s kennelman at Otradnoe.
A neighbor of the Rostovs’ Otradnoe estate. He and the Rostovs have a somewhat contentious relationship.
Housekeeper of the Rostovs’ country uncle.
Mrs. Pelageya Danilovna Melyukov
Widowed neighbor of the Rostovs’ Otradnoe estate. At Christmas, 1810, the Rostov children dress in mummers’ costumes to entertain the Melyukov children. Sonya and Nikolai kiss at her house that night.
Adjutant general whom Emperor Alexander sends to Napoleon after the French invasion in 1812 with a letter objecting to Napoleon’s aggression.
A cruel, gloomy commander under Napoleon who refuses Balashov access to the emperor. He also surprisingly spares the prisoner Pierre from execution.
A military theoretician at Russian army headquarters who’s dedicated to the science of war.
Russian general who favors fighting on the offensive.
Russian secretary of state who, in 1812, convinces Emperor Alexander to leave army headquarters and return to Moscow to inspire the people for war.
Barclay de Tolly
Russian general of German origins. In 1812, Kutuzov replaces him as commander in chief of the army.
Teenage officer who looks up to his captain Nikolai Rostov.
Mrs. Agrafena Ivanovna Belov
Rostov family friend who encourages Natasha to attend church and prepare to receive Communion while Natasha is depressed in Moscow. In old age, she lives with the Rostovs at Bald Hills.
Rastopchin is Moscow’s military governor, best remembered for his anti-French propaganda posters. Distraught over the abandonment of Moscow, Rastopchin chooses Vereshchagin as a scapegoat and turns him over to an angry mob.
Smolensk innkeeper and friend of Alpatych who flees the city when it falls to the French.
Arakcheev’s adviser who favors German military strategy and whom Prince Bagration blames for the abandonment of Smolensk. Wolzogen doesn’t respect General Kutuzov’s leadership and believes that Russia loses the battle at Borodino.
A sturdy old peasant and village headman at Bogucharovo. He feels torn between the Bolkonskys and the villagers and eventually sides with the latter in resisting evacuation from Bogucharovo.
Russian general and military theoretician of Prussian origins.
French general who suggests that Napoleon send his old guard into battle at Borodino.
A six-year-old peasant girl; she watches as the Russian generals hold a war council in her family’s cottage, and Kutuzov gives her a lump of sugar.
The Rostovs’ Moscow housekeeper.
Iosif Alexeevich’s old servant.
Iosif Alexeevich’s half-mad, alcoholic brother who nearly shoots Captain Ramballe.
A political prisoner whom Count Rastopchin uses as a scapegoat; he is murdered by a wrathful mob before the burning of Moscow.
Anna Ignatyevna Malvintsev
The wealthy, widowed aunt of Princess Marya Bolkonsky.
Catiche is one of Count Bezukhov’s nieces. Prince Vassily plots with her to try to thwart Pierre’s inheritance from his father.
Viscount of Mortemart
A French émigré in Petersburg who’s the centerpiece of one of Anna Pavlovna Scherer’s soirées. He supposedly knew the duc d’Enghien, whose controversial execution contributed to the War of 1805.
A guest of Anna Pavlovna Scherer, the abbé Morio fascinates Pierre with his proposal for political peace in Europe.
A special emissary whom Emperor Alexander I sends to Berlin in 1805 in an effort to negotiate a peace between France and the Third Coalition. He was unsuccessful.
Prince Nikolai’s architect at Bald Hills.
Company captain over Dolokhov; he leads his men in a brave pursuit of the French at Schöngraben.
A hussar in Kutuzov’s suite.
Telyanin serves in Nikolai Rostov’s and Denisov’s hussar regiment. Nikolai dislikes him. Telyanin steals Denisov’s money with the excuse that his elderly parents need it. Despite Nikolai’s indignation, the regimental commander, Bogdanych, refuses to discipline Telyanin for the theft lest the entire regiment be dishonored.
Captain Denisov’s orderly. In 1812, he’s taken prisoner and personally interrogated by Napoleon.
Nikolai’s regimental commander in the Pavlogradsky hussars.
Prince Andrei’s roommate and fellow adjutant in 1805. He serves as Pierre’s second in the duel with Dolokhov.
A skilled Russian diplomat and friend of Prince Andrei’s, beloved in society for his cultured wit.
Austrian general whose army was encircled by the French at Ulm; Mack surrendered without a fight.
Emperor of Austria. When Prince Andrei brings him news of a minor Russian victory, he responds indifferently.
Chief of staff of the Austrian army.
French general who incurs Napoleon’s wrath when, before the battle of Schöngraben in 1805, he mistakenly believes that Bagration’s small detachment is the entire Russian army. He is captured by the Russians at Borodino. Years later, Napoleon names him king of Naples.
Tushin is a battery officer who leads a heroic attack on Schöngraben. Though Prince Andrei admires Tushin’s courageous leadership, superior officers merely criticize Tushin for leaving some of his guns behind, disillusioning Andrei.
Prince Nikolai Bolkonsky’s steward at Bald Hills.
Berg is a commander in the Izmailovsky regiment and a friend of Boris Drubetskoy’s. He marries Vera Rostov.
Dolgorukov is an adjutant to General Kutuzov who advocates for offensive warfare.
Prince Adam Czartoryski
Minister of foreign affairs under Emperor Alexander.
Midwife who attends Princess Lise during childbirth.
Princess Marya’s childhood nanny.
Nikolushka Rostov’s tutor.
Commander of a Cossack regiment who was praised for his actions at 1812’s Battle of Tarutino.
A quiet, unassuming general who’s present at most of the war’s battles, though history doesn’t say much about him.
A Russian general who normalized the practice of partisan warfare, or organizing small attachments to attack the French army as it retreated.
Tikhon is a peasant scout who serves in Denisov’s partisan detachment.
Captain von Toll
A captain in the Russian army who consoles Emperor Alexander after the Russian loss at Austerlitz. He rises to become a colonel by 1812.
A servant of the Rostov family.
The prefect of Napoleon's palace.