What is Tolstoy’s opinion of violence

Topics: War, Novel, Imam Shamil Pages: 2 (448 words) Published: October 2, 2013
What is Tolstoy’s opinion of violence? Is he repelled by it, or does he admire it? In Hadji Murat, does he glamorize violence or criticize it? Does the novel moralize about violence or does it take an objective approach? Tolstoy definitely is repelled by violence, in every opportunity he has to expose a battle or a conflict he does it in a very anticlimactic approach, very much so like real life. There is nothing heroic about violence and the destruction it leaves behind. According to Bayley, “What counts is [Tolstoy’s] masterly indictment not only of the hatefulness of power but the dreadful helplessness of those who exercise it. It becomes necessary to its possessors, who exercise it as unreflectingly as ordinary people run their homes or go to the office.” (I) In Hadji Murat, Tolstoy tries to expose violence by the description of the actions of both leaders Nicholas and Shamil, both corrupt by their power, they seem to mandate cruel orders like if it was a regular 9 to 5 job. The first one invading anything in its path like the Spaniards did in America and the second one betraying the main character. Besides the rejection of violence and all its consequences Tolstoy’s focus is on the hero, Hadji. The power of self-perseverance, the notion of coming back home to his family and the circumstances of his flip-flop is what makes this novel unique in its context. As Briggs points out, “There is a striking similarity between chapters 15 and 19 which present respectively two tyrants, one European, one Asiatic—Nicholas and Shamil. Their petitioners, their physical description, their cruel punishments, their concern for reputation and appearance, their susceptibility to sexual passion, and several other qualities cry out for comparison and suggest one of Tolstoy’s favourite theses, that great political power has grossly corrupting effect upone those who wield it and that one tyranny is much like another.”

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