Dysfunctional Families in Revolutionary Road and Anna Karenina Essay

Dysfunctional Families in Revolutionary Road and Anna Karenina Essay

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Dysfunction within an individual can be the result of various occurrences, whether it is a traumatic experience that has stemmed into a life of self-doubt and vulnerability, or it is a series of unfortunate events that has led the individual to believe that life is simply an ongoing controversy. However, dysfunction within a family is much more than self-afflicted stress, it is rooted within the familial bonds that gradually break as a result of conflict, co-dependent adults, perhaps substance abuse, and oftentimes a struggle of conformity brought on by an external source. In the novels Revolutionary Road and Anna Karenina, Richard Yates and Leo Tolstoy depict familial dysfunction that can occur as a result of society’s overwhelming ability to alter perspective and act as a catalyst to mediocrity. The characters that choose to conform to society’s moral values end up losing themselves in the process, causing dysfunction within the family unit; whereas the characters that choose to take their lives into their own hands and ignore society’s wrath ultimately prevail and restore moral order within themselves and within their families. Firstly, in Anna Karenina, the protagonist, Anna, is isolated by her hypocritical society with superficial values, which in turn leads her to her downfall. Secondly, in Revolutionary Road, John and April Wheeler are conflicted with society’s primary focus on materialism and wealth, which leads to the downfall of their dream causing their marriage to collapse. Similarly, both societies are led by the same motives where the protagonists of the novels seem to be corrupted by external sources, predominantly being their judgmental societies, which consequently causes the corruption of their families. Lastly, ...

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...selves, and ultimately within the family unit by gaining a sense of perspective on what truly matters, being inner content, as opposed to societies judgment. The conflict of what truly causes a family to become dysfunctional wages on in literature, however Yates and Tolstoy inherently prove that the corruption of a family is typically the result of a degraded society with deteriorated morals.


• Olesen, John, Joanne Fallon, and Louise Mark. Groups: a manual for chemical dependency and psychiatric treatment. Santa Fe, NM (342 Hillside Ave., Santa Fe 87501): CL Productions, 1993. Print.

• Tolstoj, Lev Nikolaevič. Anna Karenina. [Complete and unabridged]. ed. Ware (Hertfordshire): Wordsworth, 1995. Print.

• Yates, Richard. Revolutionary road. 3rd Vintage contemporaries ed. New York: Vintage Contemporaries, Vintage Books :, 2008. Print.

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