Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (1828 - 1910)

Anna Karenina
by Leo Tolstoy (1828
- 1910)

Type of Work:

Tragic love story

Setting

Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia; nineteenth
century

Principal Characters

Robert Jordan, an American fighting with

Spanish Loyalists

Anna Karenina, a beautiful young woman

Alexey, her cold, vindictive husband

Count Vronsky, a young military officer
who falls in love with Anna

Stepan Oblonsky, Anna's spendthrift brother

Dolly, Stepan's frustrated wife

Kitty, Dolly's sister

Levin, Stepan's rusticc friend, and Kitty's
suitor

Story Overveiw

Stepan Oblonsky's wife Dolly had discovered
that her husband was having an affair. With her beauty fading and her household
a wreck, she had had enough. Stepan fretfully wrote to his sister, Anna

Karenina, asking her to come to Moscow and convince Dolly not to leave
him.

Later, while working at his job in the
entrenched Moscow bureaucracy, Stepan received an unexpected visitor: Levin,
an old friend from the university, came to discuss Dolly's sister Kitty,
whom he wanted to marry. After being informed by Stepan that he had a rival
for Kitty's affections, a certain Count Vronskv of St. Petersburg, Levin
resolved that he would propose to Kitty that very night.

At that same moment, Anna and Count Vronsky
were riding together in a train bound for Moscow. Vronsky noticed the charming
woman as he made his way to the first-class compartment that he shared
with his mother. He had time to take note of "the suppressed eagerness
which played over her face" as their eyes met, and she remained in his
mind. However, upon reaching their destination, the two went their separate
ways - Anna to her brother's home, Vronsky and his mother to a hotel.

Approached by Anna, Dolly at first refused
to discuss her husband's infidelity. "Everything's lost after what has
happened, evervthinq's over!" she raged. But finally she relented to Anna's
plea to keep the family together.

Meanwhile, Levin had arrived early at a
dinner party hosted by the parents of Kitty and Dolly, determined to make
his desires known to Kitty before the appearance of the rich and handsome

Count. But "That cannot be ... forgive me," Kitty replied upon hearing
his stammering proposal. Crushed by the rejection, Levin escaped from the
gathering at the first opportunity.

A few days later, at her coming-out ball,

Kitty couldn't help but notice how Anna and Vronsky kept gazing at each
other. Vronsky's face had a look that puzzled her . . . "like the expression
of an intelligent dog when it had done wrong." It was clear to Kitty that
the two were in love.

Nevertheless, with her task of seeing to

Stepan and Dolly completed, Anna boarded the next train for St. Petersburg.

She thought of her son, Seryozha, and her husband, Alexey..... Mv life
will go on in the old way, all nice and as usual ' "' she thought. But
she found that she could not easily dismiss Count Vronsky from her mind.

And stepping along the way, as Anna stepped out for a breath of air, there
he was. "You know that I have come to be where you are; I can't help it,"
confessed the officer. Anna was both delighted and flattered by this, but
it was simply unthinkable that anything could come of his attraction to
her. After all, she was a married woman.

Back in Moscow, Kitty was devastated. Not
only had Count Vronsky spurned her, but Levin had also left the city to
supervise work on his country estate. Humiliated and distraught, Kitty
became so ill with despair that she was soon unable to eat or sleep. Her
frantic parents, after finding no restorative medical treatment in Moscow,
sent her to Europe to consult various doctors.

Meanwhile, life for Anna in St. Petersburg
remained strangely unsettled. The happiness that in Moscow "had fairly
flashed from her eyes, [now seemed] hidden somewhere far away." To her
further disquiet, the love-struck Vronsky took every opportunity to see
her. One night she knelt and begged him to leave her in peace; but still
he persisted: "I can't think of you and myself apart. You and I are one
to me." And at that moment Anna "let her eyes rest on him, full of love."

Soon afterward, Alexey Karenina walked
into a party and found his wife with Vronsky; but Anna denied any impropriety.

Still, she and Vronsky met night after night, with Alexey seemingly powerless
or unwilling to stop them. Anna by now felt "so sinful, so guilty"; but
still she could not curb her passion for the Count.

The following summer, while staving at
her husband's villa outside the city, Anna confronted her lover with an
announcement: she was pregnant. Though he understood the gravity of Anna's
position, Vronsky smiled. This was the "turning point