War and Peace

War and Peace

by

Leo Tolstoy

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Prince Nikolai Bolkonsky Character Analysis

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 cares about her wellbeing, he sometimes speaks to her cruelly, and everyone shrinks from the Prince’s bad moods and harsh demands. He masks his genuine affection for his children with grumpiness. He mocks modern European military strategy, but in 1806, hes briefly revived by new duties as an army commander. As he later declines into senility, he makes Marya’s life increasingly difficult and balks at Prince Andrei’s engagement with Natasha. In his final days, he tries to rally Bald Hills against the French, suffers a stroke, and reconciles with Marya in his dying moments.
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Prince Nikolai Bolkonsky Character Timeline in War and Peace

The timeline below shows where the character Prince Nikolai Bolkonsky appears in War and Peace. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Volume 1, Part 1: Chapter 22
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At Prince Nikolai Bolkonsky’s estate, Bald Hills, the young Prince Andrei and his wife, the little princess, are... (full context)
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...morning of Prince Andrei’s arrival, Marya timidly enters her father’s study for their daily meeting. Prince Nikolai greets his daughter sternly yet tenderly. He marks a geometry assignment in a notebook and... (full context)
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Cheerful Mlle Bourienne, Marya’s companion, enters the room, warning Marya that Prince Nikolai has had an argument and is therefore in a grumpy mood. Marya says she doesn’t... (full context)
Volume 1, Part 1: Chapters 23–25
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In the afternoon Prince Andrei and his wife arrive at Bald Hills. Since Prince Nikolai is still napping, they surprise Princess Marya while she’s practicing the clavichord. When Marya greets... (full context)
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In a special exception, Prince Nikolai allows Prince Andrei to visit his quarters before dinner. Cheerful after his nap, he greets... (full context)
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At dinner, Prince Nikolai joins Prince Andrei, the little princess, Princess Marya, Mlle Bourienne, and the Prince’s architect Mikhail... (full context)
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...being isolated in the country. Andrei doesn’t reply to this, but he suggests instead that Prince Nikolai is too hard on Marya. Shocked, she protests that she’s perfectly content with him. (full context)
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...outside in the autumn evening; the household gathers in the hall to bid him goodbye. Prince Nikolai continues scribbling a letter in his office when Prince Andrei comes to say farewell. Embarrassed,... (full context)
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In a shrill voice, Prince Nikolai tells Prince Andrei that though he’ll grieve if his son dies, he’ll be most ashamed... (full context)
Volume 1, Part 3: Chapters 1–5
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In November, Prince Vassily has to go on a business trip, including a visit to Prince Nikolai Bolkonsky, in hopes of marrying his son Anatole to the wealthy prince’s daughter Marya. But... (full context)
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In December, Prince Vassily takes his son Anatole on a visit to Prince Nikolai Bolkonsky. Prince Nikolai has always held a low opinion of Prince Vassily, and it doesn’t... (full context)
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...and hopes she’ll be part of the household after he marries Princess Marya. Meanwhile, as Prince Nikolai dresses for dinner, he continues to resent Prince Vassily’s arrival. It renews his inner debate... (full context)
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At first Prince Nikolai pretends to listen to Prince Vassily’s conversation, but then he abruptly gets up and confronts... (full context)
That night, nobody but Anatole sleeps easily. Even Prince Nikolai paces and grunts resentfully. He sees that Anatole cares nothing for his daughter and only... (full context)
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That morning Prince Nikolai is unusually gentle with his daughter. He explains that Prince Vassily seeks Marya’s hand in... (full context)
An hour later, when Princess Marya is summoned to her meeting with Prince Nikolai and Prince Vassily, she’s embracing Mlle Bourienne, who is weeping. She assures Mlle Bourienne that... (full context)
Volume 2, Part 1: Chapters 7–9
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When Prince Nikolai receives Kutuzov’s news, he doesn’t tell anyone at first. When Princess Marya reports for her... (full context)
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When Prince Andrei goes to his father’s study, Prince Nikolai already knows about his return and his daughter-in-law’s death. He clings to his son’s neck... (full context)
Volume 2, Part 2: Chapters 5–9
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...and conflicting rumors fly. Since 1805, the Bolkonskys’ lives have changed a lot. In 1806, Prince Nikolai is made one of Russia’s eight militia commanders in chief. Though the prince is old,... (full context)
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Prince Nikolai has given Andrei an estate called Bogucharovo, 30 miles away, and Andrei begins spending most... (full context)
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...Andrei retreats to the next room to read the letter that’s come from his father. Prince Nikolai joyfully reports a victory over Napoleon at Preussisch-Eylau. He orders Prince Andrei to hasten to... (full context)
Volume 2, Part 2: Chapters 10–14
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...from the carriage. He says they’re Princess Marya’s “people of God,” whom, in defiance of Prince Nikolai , Marya welcomes. After settling into their rooms, Prince Andrei and Pierre go to Marya’s... (full context)
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...she relents. Marya is grateful, and for the rest of the visit, both she and Prince Nikolai get along well with Pierre. However, Marya worries that inactive rural life is bad for... (full context)
Volume 2, Part 3: Chapters 23–26
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...next day, Prince Andrei travels to Bald Hills to ask his father’s permission to marry. Prince Nikolai receives the news calmly, but inside, he can’t understand it—why anyone would seek to dramatically... (full context)
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Back at Bald Hills, Prince Nikolai ’s health declines. The burden of this falls on Princess Marya. Princess Marya’s soft spots... (full context)
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...sooner because he didn’t want to add to family tensions. He encloses a letter asking Prince Nikolai to shorten the postponement of marriage by a few months, and he asks Marya to... (full context)
Volume 2, Part 5: Chapters 1–4
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That winter Prince Nikolai Bolkonsky comes to Moscow with Princess Marya. Emperor Alexander has fallen out of favor, and... (full context)
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Prince Nikolai is always in a bad mood, and whenever Princess Marya tries to fulfill her promise... (full context)
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...Prince to an outburst of rage. He calls Métivier a French spy. After Métivier leaves, Prince Nikolai storms at Princess Marya. He says he can’t have a moment’s peace with her and... (full context)
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The nearly silent meal includes some political talk, with Prince Nikolai offering an occasional grunt in response. As the evening goes on, however, Prince Nikolai grows... (full context)
Volume 2, Part 5: Chapters 5–10
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The next day, Count Rostov and Natasha go to see Prince Nikolai Bolkonsky. The Count is nervous, but Natasha feels confident that the Bolkonskys will love her—everybody... (full context)
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 After a few uncomfortable minutes, to Marya’s horror, Prince Nikolai walks in wearing a dressing gown and nightcap. He awkwardly repeats, “As God is my... (full context)
Volume 2, Part 5: Chapters 11–13
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...know why. Her thoughts of Andrei are mixed up with thoughts of Princess Marya, old Prince Nikolai , the opera, and her guilty, flustered feelings about Anatole Kuragin. (full context)
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After church on Sunday, Marya Dmitrievna announces resolutely that she’s going to visit Prince Nikolai and have a talk with him regarding Natasha. While she’s gone, Countess Bezukhov stops in... (full context)
Volume 2, Part 5: Chapters 14–17
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...Natasha and Count Rostov over. She tells them what happened at the Bolkonskys’ yesterday—she and Prince Nikolai got into a shouting match. She recommends that the Rostovs return to Otradnoe and wait... (full context)
Volume 2, Part 5: Chapters 18–22
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...a note from Prince Andrei, who’s just arrived in Moscow. As soon as Andrei arrived, Prince Nikolai gave him Natasha’s note to Princess Marya stating her refusal of Andrei. (Mlle Bourienne had... (full context)
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...he can’t forgive Natasha or be noble enough to marry her anyway. Over dinner with Prince Nikolai and Princess Marya, Pierre sees that the Bolkonskys hold the Rostovs in great contempt. (full context)
Volume 3, Part 1: Chapters 8–11
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...Prince Andrei doesn’t realize, though, that Bald Hills has actually divided into two camps, with Prince Nikolai and Mlle Bourienne on one side, and Princess Marya, Nikolushka, and Nikolushka’s tutor and caregivers... (full context)
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...find it. He’s likewise disturbed to find that he feels no remorse for arguing with Prince Nikolai for the first time in his life. He wants to flee the painful memories of... (full context)
Volume 3, Part 2: Chapters 1–5
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The day after Prince Andrei leaves, Prince Nikolai blames Princess Marya for his son’s departure. He stays in his study for a week... (full context)
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...to Princess Marya—patriotic letters in Russian, as she claims she can no longer abide French. Prince Nikolai refuses to acknowledge the war, so Marya assumes it isn’t very important. Meanwhile, Prince Andrei... (full context)
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Even after this letter is read to the household, Prince Nikolai refuses to believe that Bald Hills is in danger. In fact, he believes the French... (full context)
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...to write to the head of the province to find out what’s going on, since Prince Nikolai refuses to act. When Alpatych the steward sets off for Smolensk, sent by the Prince... (full context)
Volume 3, Part 2: Chapters 6–12
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...Prince Andrei thinks Princess Marya is safe, that’s not true. After Alpatych returns from Smolensk, Prince Nikolai springs into action. He calls up the village militia, deciding to stay and defend Bald... (full context)
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The morning after Nikolushka leaves for Bogucharovo, Prince Nikolai puts on his decorated uniform and goes out to review the village militia. But soon... (full context)
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...Princess Marya prepares the household to move again. The morning of departure, the doctor says Prince Nikolai is a little better and trying to communicate. Marya goes to her father, who looks... (full context)
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After this exchange, Prince Nikolai becomes more agitated, talking about his son, the Emperor, and the war. Then he has... (full context)
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...Dron, who’s trusted and respected by the Bolkonskys and peasants alike. On the day of Prince Nikolai ’s funeral, Alpatych orders Dron to prepare horses for the carriages and carts that will... (full context)
Epilogue, Part 1: Chapters 8–16
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...and three children, Natasha and her three children, Sonya, Marya’s nephew Nikolenka, and the late Prince Nikolai ’s old architect Mikhail Ivanovich. From his gestures, Princess Marya can tell that Nikolai is... (full context)