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Transcript of Anna Karenina
What is most important about the setting of Anna Karenina is the time period. This novel is set throughout the 1870s, which in Russia was a time of great social change and debate about which direction Russia should take in becoming a modern nation, following the rest of the world.
For ages Russia had been a place which lagged behind it’s western neighbours in sophistication and culture, however now, at the end of the 19th century it was quickly hurrying to catch up and prove that it could be as advanced as the rest of Europe. This in turn sparked great debate over how much Russia should try and Europeanize itself and how much it should try to hang onto it’s traditional values. At the same time, Russia was also dealing with vast economic and political issues. Russia was still ruled by an all powerful Czar, and the wealth of the country was concentrated in the hands of a the wealthy, while the majority of Russians were peasants. Many people agreed that this situation was bad news, however no one quite knew how to proceed.
This setting, full of the conflict between old traditional values and new modern ways, as well as the political revolution which was verging on the horizon, allows for a very interesting time period for Anna Karenina, with many important topics such as the role of women, the conflict between the peasantry and the wealthy being discussed frequently throughout the novel. ISU presentation by Jasmine Thompson Characters Anna Karenina is one of the novels protagonists. She is a very passionate, beautiful and educated woman, married to the government official Alexei Karenin, a cold and passionless man.
In this novel Anna’s character is very complex. Although she is flawed-she commits adultery, is outcast by society and abandons her children- we instinctively sympathize with her because of how human, genuine and gentle she is. Although Tolstoy doesn’t focus mainly on her appearance, he does include the thoughts of other male characters on her sharp intelligence and desirable appearance with curly black hair and a full figure. Anna Arkadyevna Karenina Count Vronsky is a handsome, wealthy and charming officer in the army who, when first introduced, is courting Kitty. However upon meeting Anna he immediately falls in love and remains devoted to Anna till the very end.
Although Vronsky is an exceptional man, he is still just a man and we are reminded of this frequently throughout the novel. It is this in the end which provides the greatest disappointment to Anna. She wishes to fall completely into a love affair of total escape, only to find that Vronsky’s passion has it’s limits. Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky Alexei Karenin is the husband to Anna, a cold, passionless and rational government official. He views all things in his life as an act of duty rather than passion- his marriage to Anna, his reading of history and poetry, and his attendance to the right parties. Karenin’s entire existence consists of professional obligations, with a general resistance to any passion or emotions, which he considers unseemly and unprofessional.
We can see that even when Anna spends an entire party with Vronsky, in Karenin and Anna’s confrontation, he is more concerned with how others noticed and reacted, than with his own personal feelings. It is this lack of passion and emotion that Anna rejects, and which she turns to Vronsky to fill. Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin Levin is the other protagonist in Anna Karenina. Good friends with Anna’s brother Oblonsky, Levin is a socially awkward, difficult and independently minded young farm owner who finds solace in the countryside. Although he dislikes the westernization of Russia, he understands the aid that the western technology brings. Throughout the novel, he remains his own self and doesn’t let other people’s prefabricated idea of things stray him from his beliefs. He remains truly independent, and prefers isolation over trying to fit into a social group where he’s not totally comfortable.
Levin’s main issue, is his search for self-definition and individual happiness. This search, as well as his pursuing of Kitty Scherbatsky allows for the majority of the plot of the novel. Throughout the course of the novel, we see Levin’s transition from a young socially awkward man who is trying to make Russia the best it can be, to a well-liked happily married man, who is secure in his love for his wife and son and his newly found religious faith.
Despite his high class lineage, Levin remains a very grounded and down to earth simple man, who savours the simple human experiences he encounters, and achieves a great sense of peace and happiness at the end of the novel. Constantine Dmitrich Levin Plot Anna Karenina contains two major plot lines; that of Anna Karenina’s and Dmitrich Levin’s. These two plots in many ways parallel each other: as Levin goes from an awkward and difficult young man to a peaceful and content married individual, Anna slowly declines, becoming cast out of society, abandoning her family life and falling into depression. The story of Anna begins when she's called by her brother Oblonsky to Moscow, to help him reconcile with his wife Dolly after cheating on her. This is the first time she has been away from her home since the birth of her son, and she misses him dearly, which shows her original value for family .
Levin’s story begins with his arrival in Moscow from the Russian countryside for a short visit. Levin hangs around for a while, attending dinners and parties at Oblonsky’s house, in the hopes of talking to and asking Kitty Scherbatsky to marry him. Initial Situation In Moscow, Anna meets Vronsky. She's infatuated by him although she tries to hide it, thinking of Kitty and Karenin and her life back in St Petersburg. When she leaves Moscow on the bus Vronsky deserts Kitty, having fallen in love with Anna instead, and he follows Anna back to St Petersburg.
Levin, in love with Kitty, asks her to marry him however she turns him down in favour of Vronsky who she believes is going to ask her hand. Embarrassed and disappointed, Levin returns to his countryside estate to brood and focus on farming. Conflict After discovering that she's pregnant with Vronsky’s child, Anna attends a horse race which Vronsky is taking part in. At this point Anna is very much in love with Vronsky, and sick and tired of keeping her affair a secret from her husband. Near the end of the race, Vronsky is thrown from his horse and Anna, in obvious distress begins uncontrollably crying; worried about Vronsky’s well being.
Karenin convinces her to leave with him, but only after she's sure that Vronsky is okay. In the carriage ride home, when Karenin confronts Anna about her unseemly behaviour, Anna, very emotional and filled with disgust for her boring and distant husband tells him exactly how she feels about him and exactly what has been going on with Vronsky.
Levin however, is very caught up with his own existential angst, and facing many problems about his own questions of philosophical and political grounding towards the Russian peasants and nobility. Finally, Levin asks Kitty to marry him once again and this time, completely done and finished with Vronsky she agrees, and the two are happily married. Climax Upon returning to St Petersburg, Anna attempts to pass off her infatuation with Vronsky as a mere crush, and she returns to her daily family life with Karenin and her son. However, she can’t help but feel disappointed and bored with her life, and her distant and passionless husband. Soon, she begins to spend more and more time with Vronsky at parties and social events.
Levin on the other hand simply passes time at his countryside estate, while his desire for marriage simply intensifies. He also tries to reform the peasants who work for him, to try the new western ways, however they refuse, and this frustrates him further. In desperation, he meets up with Dolly (Kitty’s sister) who convinces him that he would have a better shot with Kitty this time around, with Vronsky out of the picture. Rising Action One important symbol of this novel is Vronsky’s disastrous race. During his race, he misjudges a jump and causes his horse Frou-Frou to trip and fall, breaking her back, while he remains unharmed. Although this point in the novel is very important to the plot, it is also very important symbolically. Vronsky, despite his love for his horse, rashly makes one careless move, and breaks her back. Similarily, Vronsky loves Anna, however convinces her to have an affair with him, leading to her downfall and eventual death. This suggests a lot about the power dynamic between Vronsky and Anna; both the affair and the race are things Vronsky enters with little personal consequence towards him, however both Anna and Frou Frou enter with much higher stakes, both at the mercy of Vronsky.
Another important symbol throughout the novel are trains, due to their predominance throughout Vronsky and Anna’s story. When they first meet as Anna gets off the train in Moscow, a drunken guard has just been crushed by a train. This foreshadows Anna’s own death, much later. Vronsky also in a way is sent to death by a train, as it is a train which takes him off at the end of the novel to a war where he is determined to die. Symbols and Motifs Theme The main theme of Anna Karenina is the importance of family life. Although it talks in detail about the hardships of family life, in regards to every couple in the book (Levin and Kitty, Oblonsky and his wife, Anna and Karenin…) it maintains the fact that family and happiness go hand in hand. Anna, who deserts her husband and family in favour of passion, ends up alone, paranoid and miserable, whereas Levin, who creates a family with Kitty, ends up happy, content and living a life full of meaning and value. Leo Tolstoy (Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy) was born in 1928 in Tula Province, Russia. His mother passed away 2 years after he was born, and his father only 7 years later, which set the backdrop of a great understanding of mortality from a young age. Tolstoy attended University of Kazan however dropped out after 4 years and returned to his parents estate to try his hand at farming.
Unsuccessful at this, he went off to fight in the Crimean war throughout August 1955. It was here that he began writing. After the war, when Tolstoy returned to Russia in 1862, he married Sofya Andreyevna Bers and proceeded to settle down and focus mainly on writing. Tolstoy continued to write throughout the rest of his life, releasing many critically acclaimed novels, until his death in 1910. Author Denouement Stepan (Stiva) Arkadyevich Oblonsky
Oblonsky is Anna’s brother. He is a very charismatic, indulgent and enjoys going to parties although he lacks in real emotional depth. Similar to Anna, he has fairly publicly cheated on his wife more than once, however he doesn’t suffer any huge consequence- his wife forgives him and everyone remains on his side whereas Anna becomes a social outcast. This shows the hypocrisy that was prevalent in this time period. Katerina (Kitty) Alexandrovna Shcherbatsky Kitty is a caring, innocent young girl, who when we first meet her is attempting to make her way into high society. After being abandoned by Vronsky, she goes abroad, and there realizes that she cant be some high society lady because that's not who she really is. After this epiphany, she returns to marry Levin, and continues throughout the rest of the novel to be an inspiration for him, and in his search for the happiness, and self assuredness which she has found. Karenin rejects Anna’s desire for a divorce, instead insisting that they maintain public appearances. Anna and Vronsky go together to Italy, however eventually return, wherein Anna is completely shunned by society, who consider her open adultery disgraceful, despite the fact that many of them are involved in secret affairs themselves. This begins the life of seclusion for Anna, as her jealousy for Vronsky’s still active social life, and her paranoia that he no longer loves her just continue to grow and manifest, isolated as she is.
Levin however, is still searching for something that will change his life. He is married now, living in the countryside and has a newborn son, however still feels unsatisfied and unsure with himself. Conclusion Finally Anna, so overcome with her loss of everything that once brought her life meaning- the respect of society, her loving son and friendship with other women- feels like she has nothing left to live for. Dazed and agitated she flees to the train station in search for Vronsky, and in a final act of free will she asks for God’s forgiveness and throws herself under a train. Vronsky, distraught, heads to London to fight in a war where he is determined to die.
Levin on the other hand, has an encounter with a peasant where he finally comes to an understanding that the point of life is not survival or “to fill ones belly” but rather to serve God and goodness. Content, with a newfound love for his son and newborn faith Levin settles into family life, having finally found the inner peace he has been searching for. Oblonsky has a very refined taste in food, loves eating exotic, luxurious meals- reflects his aristocratic and indulgent nature
Levin, a conserved simple man, more enjoys basic foods like bread and cheese.