Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Length: 1560 words (4.5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy is a novel about love and marriage among the Russian aristocracy in the 1870s. Anna is young, beautiful woman married to a powerful government minister, Karenin. She falls in love with the elegant Count Vronsky and after becoming pregnant by him, leaves her husband Karenin and her son Seryozha to live with her lover. Despite the intervention of friends such as her brother Oblonsky, an adulterer himself, she is unable to obtain a divorce, and lives isolated from the society that once glorified her. As a man, Vronsky enjoys relative social freedom, which causes Anna to have increasingly intense fits of jealousy. Because of her constant suspicion, she thinks that Vronsky’s love for her is dwindling. Their story is ended by an exciting finale that moves the reader.
Interwoven with the story of Anna, is the tale of Levin, a thoughtful, passionate young man who seeks to marry the Princess Catherine Shcherbatskaya, known as Kitty. Kitty rejects his first proposal because she believes that Vronsky, who flirted with her before he met Anna, intends to marry her. Levin is devastated and withdraws to his country estate and works on a book about agriculture. But the couple reunites through another appearance of Oblonsky, Kitty’s brother in law, and they discover that they are deeply in love. Kitty joyfully accepts Levin’s second proposal. Once married, they live happily in the country, host their families and guests during the summers, and have a son. Levin's philosophical doubt and religious skepticism trouble him despite his domestic happiness, but, after a spiritual enlightenment, he finally recognizes that the capacity for goodness is innate. He devotes himself to living for his loved ones, and to giving his life meaning by advancing the will of God.
Anna Karenina is a timeless classic and has been acclaimed by many literary critics as the best or one of the best novels of all time. One critic tells us that “the character development throughout is what makes this novel a classic,” and goes on to say, “This is one of the best books I have ever read.” The character development is a very intriguing part of the story and keeps the reader turning the page to see what each person goes through next. There are so many characters that a reader might lose track if they are not paying close enough attention, but each one has their own captivating story to tell.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy." 23 Feb 2019

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Characters of Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina Essay

- The Characters of Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina       By examining the character list, one immediately notices the value Tolstoy places on character.  With one hundred and forty named characters and several other unnamed characters,  Tolstoy places his central focus in Anna Karenina on the characters. He uses their actions and behavior to develop the plot and exemplify the major themes of the novel.  Tolstoy wishes to examine life as it really is.  Tolstoy gives us a lifelike representation in Anna Karenina by creating  characters, both major and minor, that contribute to the sense of realism....   [tags: Tolstoy Anna Karenina Essays]

Research Papers
1685 words (4.8 pages)

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy Essay

- Leo Tolstoy, author of Anna Karenina, was born in 1828 in Yasnaya Polyana. He was born into a wealthy Russian family. Tolstoy’s mother passed away when he was two years old and his father was murdered when he was nine. Due to being orphaned at such a young age, Tolstoy was very familiar with the concept of death and he makes this evident throughout all of his great works. Specifically in Anna Karenina, he symbolizes the power of death and mortality through Anna. Tolstoy was unsatisfied with his education and lacked interest in academics....   [tags: writer, russia, death]

Research Papers
614 words (1.8 pages)

Essay about Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

- “Sometimes [one should be] terrified of [the] heart; of its constant hunger for whatever it is it wants (Edgar Allen Poe). Endeavors of the heart may be the most dangerous of all, resulting in dismay. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy follows the lives of several families who live in 18th century Russia, each coming from different social groups and classes. The story begins with Anna’s brother Stiva Oblonsky, who is caught having an affair. As a result of this discovery, Anna must leave her family in St....   [tags: literary analysis, allen poe]

Research Papers
1153 words (3.3 pages)

Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy Essay

- Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina shows the fall of a high societal woman as she gives up everything for love. She resists society’s expectation of women to submissively dismiss their passions and live for raising a family. Anna and her lover Vronsky attempt to create their own life, separate and independent from society, believing that their love alone will sustain each other. However, they tragically discover that isolation is not a life that they can endure. Vronsky’s love does not mature; he does not know how to develop it beyond passion....   [tags: Literary Analysis, Book Summary]

Research Papers
936 words (2.7 pages)

Essay on Flaubert's Madame Bovary and Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina

- Flaubert's Madame Bovary and Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina Gustave Flaubert wrote in Madame Bovary that “someone’s death always causes a kind of stupefaction; so difficult it is to grasp this advent of nothingness and to resign ourselves to the fact that it has actually taken place” (258). Greater still is the stupefaction when the death is suicide, when the advent of nothing has been self-initiated. For the reader of both Flaubert’s Madame Bovary and Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, the literary suicides of the novels’ heroines produce an effect similar to stupor, a pause that is required to accept the reality of death, even within the constructed world of fiction....   [tags: Madame bovary Karenina Tolstoy Stupor]

Research Papers
3822 words (10.9 pages)

Feminist Analysis of Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy Essay

- Anna Karenina is a novel by the prominent Russian author Leo Tolstoy. It was published in serial installments between 1873 and 1877. Tolstoy himself claimed that Anna Karenina was his first novel. Despite criticism that the novel was indeed two separate novels, there was much acclaim. Fellow Russian author Dostoevsky hailed it as “a flawless work of art” ( Despite the criticism that Anna Karenina is actually two novels, Tolstoy insisted that it is one novel. Although certain characters hardly ever interact, they are still aware of each other and one’s actions have even the smallest influence on the other....   [tags: Oblonsky family]

Research Papers
1522 words (4.3 pages)

Mary Wollstonecraft 's A Vindication Of The Rights Of Woman And Leo Tolstoy 's Anna Karenina

- Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina both illustrate feminist ideals as well as the continual gender gap that plagues our society. Wollstonecraft lays out very specific qualifications for modesty and portrays how imperative a modest society is to achieving gender equality for both sexes. Similarly, the character of Anna in Anna Karenina chooses to become an advocate for feminist ideals in Russia during a time in which her society was ruled by men and women had very little say....   [tags: Gender, Marriage, Gender role, Anna Karenina]

Research Papers
2001 words (5.7 pages)

Essay on Leo Tolstoy’s Timeless Novel, Anna Karenina

- The end of November, 2012 was marked in the USA by the release of the new version of “Anna Karenina.” Director of the film, Joe Wright, adopts Leo Tolstoy’s novel with the identical name. Although, a novel “Anna Karenina” “has traveled to the big screen dozens of times, from a handful of silent films dating to the birth of cinema to a 1997 English language version starring French actress Sophie Marceau” (Siegel, 2012p. 2), nonetheless this tragic love story still remains relevant to the present day....   [tags: Wisdom about Marriage]

Research Papers
2234 words (6.4 pages)

Essay on Double Standards in Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

- Within most forms of literature there seems to be a representation of a double standard. Even in our societies double standards not only exist but are prevalent. In literature though double standards are sometimes not always noticeable to the reader, however in the texts that we have read double standards are not only noticeable, but are written in a way as if the author wants the reader to pick up on this. It’s fairly comprehensive how when it comes to adultery that the female characters suffer far more from their consequences than the males....   [tags: bad girls, marriage, cheating, corruption]

Research Papers
984 words (2.8 pages)

Anna Karenina Essay examples

- In Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy presents marriage in a realistic sense, marriage is not an easy institution; couples must work through the rough patches in order for it to be strong; he also presents passion as a force that can have a positive influence, but simultaneously presents passion as a factor that can have a corrupting power on a person’s life. These two couples, Levin and Kitty and Vronsky and Anna, are compared throughout the course of the novel. Levin and Kitty differ from Anna and Vronsky because they do not communicate in the same ways....   [tags: Literary Analysis, Leo Tolstoy]

Research Papers
2003 words (5.7 pages)

Anna and Vronky’s relationship is the one most closely examined by Tolstoy. The two start of as esteemed individuals in society. Vronksy is a self-assured and elegant young man and Anna is a beautiful and elite woman. Her love with Vronsky became an intense affair. Soon after their first affair, Anna says to her lover, “Everything is finished…I have nothing but you now. Remember that.” Vronsky replies, “I cannot fail to remember what to me is life itself.” But, through much toil and tribulation, despite Vronsky’s unfailing love for her, Anna becomes deceptive, jealous, and spiteful. Their kind and loving discourse becomes arduous and hurtful quarrels. Because she has given up everything, she becomes possessive of him and his affections. “And though she was sure that he had begun to grow cold there was still nothing she could do; it was impossible for her to change her relations with him. It was just as it had been before—it was by love alone, by her charms, that she could hold him. And just as before, it was only by busying herself during the day and taking morphia at night that she could stifle the terrifying thoughts of what would happen if he fell out of love with her.” There is an exiting finale which confirms the status of their relationship. And although, “when she poured out her usual dose of morphia, and thought that all she had to do was drink the whole phial in order to die” and “started thinking once again with enjoyment of how he would torment himself, repent, and love the memory of her when it was already too late,” towards the conclusion of the book, she did not overdose on morphine. One of the greatest themes in the novel is love, marriage, and relationships. Anna and Vronsky’s is little more than a romantic entanglement in which sex and passion, especially for Anna, is more important than anything else. This flawed basis is the cause of their downfall as a couple.
The next most closely examined character is Constantine Levin. Levin is Tolstoy’s heroic figure in the story. He is logical, candid, and honorable. His one true love is Kitty, Anna’s sister in law’s sister. “The place she was standing on seemed to him an unapproachable shrine, and there was a moment when he was on the verge of leaving, he was so filled with fear…He stepped down, avoiding a long look at her, as though she were the sun, but he saw her, just like the sun even without looking.” He is grief-stricken when she at first rejects him, but cannot ignore his love for her. “There were no eyes on earth like those. There was only one creature on earth able to focus all the light and meaning of life for him. That was she—Kitty.” Fortunately for them, both, they come together again and have a devoted love for each other. Their relationship undergoes some hardships similar to those of Anna and Vronsky. They too have to deal with traces of jealously and petty arguments, but they quickly reconcile with each other. Levin is often found pacifying his loving wife. Their entrance into marriage is described in a beautiful metaphor. “At every step, he felt as a man might feel who, after admiring the smooth, cheerful motion of a boat on the water, actually gets into the boat himself. He saw that apart from having to sit steadily in the boat without rocking, he also had to keep in mind, without forgetting for a moment where he was going, that there was water beneath his feet, that he had to row, that his unaccustomed hands hurt, and that it was easy only when you looked at it, but that doing it, though it made you very happy, was very hard.” This is a very accurate description of the affect married life can have on a beginner. Levin and Kitty constantly admire even the most trivial traits in one another, unlike Anna, who tends draw out and or even create Vronsky’s weaknesses. Levin undergoes a spiritual crisis towards the end of the novel which concludes in bringing him an inner peace. The marriage of Kitty and Levin is typical of what Tolstoy considered ideal. It is a voluntary match between a man who is happy in his work and spiritually at peace and a woman who feels that her purpose in life is to devote herself to her family.
This long, but rewarding book is full of rich language and thought provoking passages. Tolstoy says at one point early in the novel, “As Levin went into the yard, and like a tree that in springtime still doesn’t know just where and how its young shoots and twigs, still imprisoned in their buds, are going to turn out, he himself had no very clear idea of just what he was going to start doing now on his beloved farm, but he felt himself full of the finest plans and resolutions.” Tolstoy uses such vivid and brilliant metaphors that clearly illuminate themselves in the mind of the reader. Oblonsky, in pleading to Karenin to arrange a divorce, he says about Anna, “And she’s been living in Moscow now for six months, expecting your decision. Every time she meets anyone it’s like twisting a knife in her heart. It’s just like keeping a man condemned to death with a rope around his neck for months, promising him either death, or perhaps, a reprieve.” Tolstoy uses theses descriptions to provide a greater comprehension of the information given. In describing Levin soon after his spiritual enlightenment, he uses yet another rich analogy. “Just as the bees, which were now buzzing round him, threatening and distracting him, deprived him of complete physical tranquility and forced him to shrink way to avoid them, so the worries that had beset him from the moment he got into the gig deprived him of his peace of mind; but that only lasted as long as he was in their midst. Just as his bodily strength remained intact in spite of the bees so his newly realized spiritual strength also remained intact.” The delightful writing of Tolstoy helps to keep the reader enthralled.
One review states that “it is one of the finest, subtlest, most exciting, most romantic, truest, most daring, charming, witty and altogether moving experiences anyone can have.” The critic goes on to say, “Anyone who believes in the power of art, especially literature, must buy and read this book. I promise it can change your life. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.” This novel has changed the life of past readers and still enriches the lives of many. All serious readers should look into this classic work that bares the Russian soul through the souls of its powerful characters. I highly recommend it.
Return to