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Essay In Idleness Analysis

[Prince Bolkonsky] used to say that there were only two sources of human vice: idleness and superstition; and that there were only two virtues: activity and intelligence. He occupied himself personally with his daughter's upbringing, and to develop the two chief virtues in her, gave her lessons in algebra and geometry and portioned out her whole life among constant studies. [...] "Well, ma'am," the old man began, bending close to his daughter [...] so that the princess felt herself surrounded on all sides by her father's smell of tobacco and pungent old age, which she had known for so long. "Well, ma'am, these triangles are similar; kindly look, the angle ABC..."

The princess glanced fearfully at her father's bright eyes, so near to her; red blotches came over her face, and it was obvious that she understood nothing, and was so afraid that fear would prevent her from understanding all of her father's further explanations, however clear they were. Whether it was the teacher or the pupil who was at fault, the same thing repeated itself each day: the princess felt giddy, saw nothing, heard nothing, but only felt the lean face of her stern father near her, felt his breathing and his smell, and thought only of how to get out of the study as quickly as possible and work out the problem in the freedom of her own room. The old man would get beside himself: he would noisily move the chair he was sitting in back and forth, try hard to keep himself from flying into a rage, and almost always flew into a rage, poured out abuse, and sometimes flung the notebook away. (1.1.22.1-17)

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