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Anna Karenina - The Complex Character of Constantine Dmitrich Levin

 

In the novel Anna Karenina, written by Leo Tolstoy, both major and minor characters played important roles through out the story. One protagonist, Constantine Dmitrich Levin, caught my interest as being a compassionate, moral character. Constantine Dmitrich Levin is a complex character whose direct and indirect characterization emphasizes a search for balance. Constantine Dmitrich Levin, often called Levin or Constantine, later Kostya by Kitty, is a farmer in eighteenth century Russia. He enjoys his work and avoids the city at all costs. He is madly in love with Princess Catherine Alexandrovna Shcherbatskaya, normally called Kitty, but she rejects him in hoping that Count Alexey Kirilich Vronsky, normally named Vronsky, a man who has shown great interest in her, will propose marriage. Both are discarded but reconcile their feelings and eventually marry.

 

 

The novel Anna Karenina directly depicts Levin as a strongly built, honest worker, who dislikes the immoral views of the aristocracy. Levin enjoys his choice of work in the fields and begins to trust the peasants who assist him in his farming duties. He believes that working outside the cities provide a more noble lifestyle. Levin considers peasants to be more independent that those in urban areas and considers the peasants more morally correct.

 

 

Seeing the waiters busy over washing up the crockery and setting in order their plates and wine-glasses, seeing their calm and cheerful faces, Levin felt an unexpected sense of relief as though he had come out of a stuffy room into the fresh air (Tolstoy, 695, part 6, chapter 28).

 

Work provides relief and gets Levin in touch with the real values of life. Since physical labor cannot lead to deception, instead, it leads to an honest way of living. When Levin leaves the politicians and enters the reception area, in chapter twenty-eight of part six, he sees the waiters working very hard. The honesty of the waiters' work contrasts strongly with the dishonesty of the political manipulations that Levin sees in the general election he is participating in at that time.

 

 

Levin is indirectly described as a shy man torn apart by his philosophical and religious views. Levin often argues with others and himself on certain views of life. Inside, he is torn apart about religion and the meaning of life. Outside, he argues about politics and philosophical views, but does not debate because of his uncertainty of his own views. He often debates with his older half brother Sergius Ivanich Koznyshev, normally specified Koznyshev or Sergius, about numerous conflicting views.

 

 

Whenever the two brothers got into disagreements about the peasants, Koznyshov would always convince Levin precisely because he had such definite conceptions about the peasants...whereas Levin did not have a definite and unchangeable conception, so that in these arguments he was always caught contradicting himself (254, part 3, chapter 1).

 

Levin, though having strong views about politics and the peasants, cannot debate with anyone because he possesses contradicting views, which are easily overthrown. Debating with his brother both embarrasses and angers Levin because his brother does not understand his views and always proves him wrong. Though his beliefs are sincere, they have a tendency to change with every person he debates with about certain views.

 

 

I chose Levin as my character of research because through out the novel he is shown to be shy, compassionate and he cherishes moral values. Levin enjoys living life according to fair principles, and dislikes those who do not. I admire that quality because very few people live by fair principles and normally their choices are immoral. I also admire his belief to live according to one's self-interests. "I imagine the mainspring of all our actions is, after all, self interest" (263, part 3 chapter 3). Levin states that self-interest can be a positive force in one's life. In a philosophical debate with his brother Koznyshov, Levin tries to prove that one's self interests are different than the general people's or government's interests. The government in the eighteenth century was strongly influenced by the aristocracy, which normally held negative affects on the peasants. This is what Levin is arguing about with his brother; he wishes the peasants to control their lives with self-interests, not by the interests of the government because the general welfare may not benefit the peasants or him.

 

 

Of the two protagonists of the novel, Anna Karenin and Constantine Levin, Levin is the one I admire most. Directly depicted as an honest, moral man, Levin is well liked among people he meets and does not try to escape to a fantasy world as Anna did. The novel goes in-depth by indirectly depicting him to be a philosophical thinker and an atheist, who is torn apart by his beliefs. The manner Tolstoy describes Levin is appealing, for I admire all of the qualities he possesses and that is why I chose him for my character of study. By using both direct and indirect characterizations, Tolstoy aimed to depict Levin as the role model for Russians in the eighteenth century.

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