Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 407
The best quotes from Hadji Murat are probably ones that relate to the most general and universal points Tolstoy makes throughout his novella. A major theme is that of the persistence of human societies against outside forces that attempt to conquer them, as the Russians are attempting to do to the Caucasus region in the story. A crushed thistle in a field serves as a symbol of such persistence; it has been beaten underfoot and run over, but it still lives. The narrator notes:
"Man has conquered everything and destroyed millions of plants, yet this one won't submit." [p.4 of trans. by Louise and Aylmer Maude]
At the end of the story just after Hadji Murat is killed, the narrator says,
"It was of this death that I was reminded by the crushed thistle in the midst of the ploughed field."
Just before mentioning the thistle at the novella's close and immediately after Murat's death, the narrator has observed that,
"The nightingales, that had hushed their songs while the firing lasted, now started their trills once more, first one quite close, then others in the distance."
You might place this last quote in the context of what the nightingale often symbolizes in literary works (see poems of Goethe, Keats, Matthew Arnold, and many others).
Tolstoy's depiction of many of the Russians contrasts sharply with the heroism he sees in the Muslim Caucasus people. The Czar Nicholas I, especially, is shown as a self-important fool, totally amoral and without empathy. A memorable quote describes him entering the reception hall to be greeted by his...
(The entire section contains 407 words.)
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