What pisses me off about Anatole and Hélène is that they both know Natasha is engaged to Andrei, but neither care. He sees an opportunity to have a young woman because she is naive and because it would be fun to do so. He doesn’t care about her at all. Natasha’s mistake is not in what she feels, but that she won’t confide in anyone and she’s to inexperienced to make a good decision here.
Natasha enters the theater smart and observant, but even as cheap as the stage set seems to her, she’s slowly drawn in to the stupidity of it all. Tolstoy does this by having Anatole always gazing at her and we feel how she likes this sensation. And even though the play is idiotic, she’s intoxicated by the false flattery. And she’s been so neglected by this year wait that it’s no wonder she’s carried away
Unlike the soldiers earlier who on the battlefield looked at each other nervously thinking all the others were thinking about them but in fact everyone was only worried about themselves, here at the theater they all gossip about each other. Only Natasha thinks “If only they knew how little I am concerned about any of them”
And you can feel how there are traps everywhere just like the cannons and grapeshot
It’s interesting how two of the most empathetic and perceptive people in the novel, Natasha and Maria, could not like each other as much as they do even though they know the other found the situation difficult and could guess the other’s feelings. A lot of this is due to selfishness and a lack of wisdom because they are each too caught up in their own thoughts about the marriage and not how the other feels