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.
The most striking feature of Tolstoy's minor characters is that
although they may only appear briefly, they still possess a sense of
lifelikeness. When a character is introduced, Tolstoy provides the reader
with details of the characters appearance and actions that give a sense of
realism. For example, the waiter that Stiva and Levin encounter at their
dinner, although a flat character is definitely presented in a manner which
allows him to have a sense of lifelikeness and fullness. From the speech
patterns the waiter uses to the description of the fit of his uniform, one
is presented with the details that allow the waiter to contribute to the
novel in means beyond simply the presence of a minor character. His
description and actions provide the novel with a sense of "real life".
Another way in which Tolstoy gives the minor character a sense of
life is by making them unpredictable. One sees this in the character of
Ryabinin. When initially discussed, the reader is told that upon
conclusion of busines...
... middle of paper ...
...esponse to the same situation. It is this contrast of the
three characters that allows Tolstoy to take full command of the life novel.
He achieves a sense of real life in all of his characters.
Although the reader may wish to, and can, draw distinctions in
Tolstoy's characters such as a major or minor character that is either
flat or round, the central focus of the character should be the
contribution that they make to the reality of the novel. Although one can
classify each of the characters in Anna Karenina as a major, minor, flat or
round character, Tolstoy presents each of his characters, whether they be
major minor flat or round, so as to convey a sense of reality and
lifelikeness in his novel.
Tolstoy, Leo, Anna Karenin, translated by Edmonds, Rosemary, Penguin, London, 1978.
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