When we first meet Anna, Tolstoy describes his heroine as quite loving and maternal. She has come to console her sister-in-law Dolly Oblonskaya, who has just learned that her husband is having an affair with their French governess. Dolly is impressed by the fact that Anna not only remembers the names of all her nieces and nephews, "but remembered the years and even the months of their births, their characters, and what illnesses they had had" (79). The aim of Anna's visit is to reconcile Dolly and Stiva, an effort in which Anna's deep concern for family is revealed. So far, Anna's personality seems like that of an ideal 19th century Russian wife. However, as soon as she meets Count Vronksy at a ball, a mean streak seems to develop in her.
At the ball, hosted by Dolly's family the Scherbatskys, Anna and Vronsky dance together several times. Kitty Scherbats...
... middle of paper ...
..., she regrets her actions and wishes to live, but it is too late. She has been punished for her actions.
The final mention of Anna by Countess Vronsky is a disparaging one in reference to Anna's suicide. "Yes, she ended as such a woman deserved to end," remarks the Countess, "Even the death she chose was mean and low" (917). Tolstoy dismisses Anna in these final words, as though her entire life and good qualities counted for nothing. She committed adultery, and was therefore condemned to die miserably, whereas her brother, also an adulterer, reconciled with his wife and continued his happy existence. Despite Tolstoy's seeming sympathy with Anna's social situation, when all is said and done, he feels the same way as the rest of society. Men may commit adultery with little or no consequence, but for a woman such an action could well prove to be her demise.
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