Russian author, Leo Tolstoy, is famous for his novels, among them, Anna Karenina . It is said that Tolstoy reaches "unsurpassed perfection in the realistic art of the novel" with Anna Karenina .
In the novel Anna Karenina , Tolstoy leads the reader through Anna Arkadyevna Karenin's life and all the people who surround her. The reader follows Anna as she sorts out a fight between her brother Stepan and his wife Dolly. Next the reader finds themselves trailing Anna as she dances away from a Moscow ball with Count Vronsky's heart. The path this novel takes then forks as the reader begins to follow Levin and his pursuit of the young and beautiful Kitty who was once a friend of Anna's before Vronsky. The story bounces back and forth between these two characters as Anna plunges into an affair with Vronsky that produces an illegitimate child, and Levin marries his true love Kitty. Anna then finds herself in a divorce resulting from her affair while Levin and Kitty are expecting their first child. The reader follows Anna and Levin through marriage, divorce, childbirth, death, heartbreak and utter happiness. In the novel Anna Karenina , the narrator gives the reader a view of various characters true natures through indirect characterization.
At the beginning of the novel the reader is introduced to Stepan, Anna's brother, who has been caught having an affair with his children's French governess.
Generally, human nature's first instinct is to despise a man with such poor morals. As the reader continues with the story, their opinion of Stepan cannot help but change. Tolstoy's description of this character is of a man who does not mean to put his wife through hardship, but ...
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...he is reading. "If she read that the heroine of the book was nursing a sick man, she longed to move with noiseless steps around the room of a sick man" (p.161-162). This use of indirect characterization hints that Anna feel that the affair with Vronsky is her chance of leading an exciting life as does the hero and heroines of her books.
Throughout the novel Anna Karenina , Leo Tolstoy uses indirect characterization to portray the inner selves of the characters. The reader's opinion of the characters continue to change as Tolstoy uses the characters actions, thoughts and feelings to make them appear different. He changes Stepan from being an adulterer, into just being a man full of love for life. Tolstoy accomplishes his purposes with this novel as it is one of the most acclaimed of all time.
Tolstoy, Leo. Anna Karenina . New York. Grolier Incorporated.
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