War and Peace Questions and Answers
by Leo Tolstoy

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What led Pierre Bezukhov to become a Freemason?

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Pierre, throughout the entire story of War and Peace, is a man in search of inner fulfillment. His "illegitimate " birth (though his father does acknowledge and legitimize him) is partly what gives him a vague sense of inferiority, and he feels himself an outsider. Like many intellectuals of his time who were not necessarily believers in organized religion but nevertheless were on a spiritual quest of sorts, he regarded Freemasonry as an organization in which he might find that fulfillment and camaraderie that were absent from conventional society.

Pierre is something of a misfit. The other upper-class people around him seem to be laughing at him behind his back, and at times openly. He's naive about Helene at first, and his marriage to her turns out a fiasco. His liberal beliefs are at odds with others. Many people of the time, especially intellectuals, artists and unconventional people in general, at first had, like Pierre, a naive and an uncritical admiration for Napoleon and believed he would follow through on the principles of the French Revolution and spread enlightened ideas throughout Europe. Even in the age immediately before the Revolution, the freemasons were a group toward which liberal people gravitated in which they could experience a degree of brotherhood and could discuss progressive ideas. It was a refuge for those who, like Pierre, did not agree with the entrenched and hidebound thinking of Europe's ruling class.

Pierre himself is an aristocrat, but his status does not give him a feeling of acceptance, and this is what he, at least at first, believes the freemasons can give him.

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