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Double Standards in Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Good Essays
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. Within each culture’s literature though, some might find adultery to be more acceptable based on that culture’s views. Altogether it is through the way the authors choose to depict the apparent double standard, how their own cultural morals for punishment in infidelity become reflected in the text, and how they choose to have the morals of their characters reflect on the act of adultery in itself that we are able to see how these books are able to find themselves in such a category of being “big books about bad girls.”
Writers throughout time have all sought ways to point out flaws in their society. They use their work as a way to present to the reader that the culture they live in isn’t as pretty as they assume. The double standard is an example of flawed human logic that decides to hold women and men to different standards when it comes to their way of life. The most obvious double standard in the text was the punishment for each sex when they committed adultery. One of the best examples is Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. The mere fact that Stiva isn’t punished for cheating on his wife Dolly is one thing, but to follow with her considered to be wrong for wanting to end the marriage depicts how c...

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... standards that we as a society can move on from that time period. Now in our present time there isn’t as strong of a double standard because we are fairly aware of it when it is present. Yet in the time that these novels were published it was considered normal and ok by society. In the end though all of the great pieces of literature that we’ve read really do offer us what the class promised and that was “big books about bad women,” although maybe is should say “bad women and men.”

Works Cited
Balzac, Honoré De. Cousin Bette. N.p.: Penguin, 1998. Print.
Laclos, Choderlos De, and Douglas Parmée. Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1995. Print.
Thackeray, William Makepeace, and Nicholas Dames. Vanity Fair. New York: Barnes & Noble Classics, 2003. Print.
Tolstoy, Leo, and David Magarshack. Anna Karenina. New York: Signet Classic, 1961. Print.
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