It is rather amusing to consider that, in some literature, a proposal of marriage is like the climax of the whole book – think Pride & Prejudice or Jane Eyre.
But what do we have here? Pierre is floating through life so amazingly well, he manages to get himself married without even having to pop the question! It just happens, and he goes with the flow.
I must admit, though, that this is where I must add on to what I said yesterday. Going with the flow is perhaps not Tolstoy’s suggested course in life. Pierre is an example of someone who does something and goes with the flow, but as we can see quite clearly, people like that get taken advantage of by people who do scheme and plan.
In this case, Prince Vassily, who starts the chapter by planning a trip to marry his son Anatole (the ratbag – if you can remember all the way back to 1.1) to Andrei’s sister, Marya (she of the plain looks but amazing eyes).
And, look, if that plan goes anything like his scheme with Pierre, he’s got a career made in positive cash flow marriages . . .
Actually, I think it’s today’s chapter that has so far given me the only slight quibble with Tolstoy’s writing. And that is – what is going on with Ellen? Tolstoy zooms around the dinner table at this chapter’s name-day party, giving us little soundbites of what is running through people’s heads – but he never explains what is happening with Ellen.
Is she happy that her father wants to marry her off for money? Does she really like Pierre? The glasses comment at the end of the chapter doesn’t seem to indicate that she does? If she doesn’t, then why is she going along with all of this? Is she stupid? Or does she like money as much as her father does, and is a willing accomplice to the whole scheme?
It’s never quite clear, because Tolstoy never once lets us inside her head. So, like Pierre, we’re kind of stuck wondering who or what she is. In fact, in all the chapters she’s appeared in so far, I don’t think we’ve found out much about what makes her tick at all.
For me, she always remains a bit of a mystery character, but people may have other thoughts? (No spoilers, please, if you’ve read further than this . . .)