Themes of Life and Death in Anna Karenina Essay

Themes of Life and Death in Anna Karenina Essay

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Themes of Life and Death in Anna Karenina


The novel, Anna Karenina, parallels its heroine's, Anna Karenina, moral and social conflicts with Constantin Levin's internal struggle to find the meaning of life. There are many other underlying themes which links the novel as a whole, yet many critics at the time only looked upon its critical view of Russian life. Henry James called Tolstoy's novels as "loose and baggy monsters' of stylessness, but Tolstoy stated of Anna Karenina ".....I am very proud of its architecture--its vaults are joined so that one cannot even notice where the keystone is." That is absolutely correct, because within Anna Karenina, there exists many themes that are all linked together to create such a wonderful piece of work. Critics tend to miss the role that the theme of life and death plays in Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. Despite its apparent meanings, these two themes are intertwined in the novel and provides a backbone for some of the other existing themes. With a masterful touch, Tolstoy is able to use these two themes to show the characters in their true forms at both stages. The characters are shown to be living in a state of delusion, and as the characters find themselves at times of near death situations or on their deathbed, they are able to reveal themselves truthfully.

    Many of the characters in the novel are able to show their "real self" and at times of death, there is a point of reversal in the characters. This is most evident in the scene of Anna's near death experience during her illness. This event brings about a change in Karenin and even Vronsky as they trade positions. Karenin suddenly becomes human and not hidden from life by his administrative regulations. His carapace cracks, and ...


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...l part of everybody's life and no matter who it is, everybody fears death. To come to terms with death is something that takes a lot of courage and a full understanding of oneself. Tolstoy in his novel, has revealed to us the effect that death can have on a person and advocates us to not succumb to the daily life of the world which we live in, because it is all a delusion. Yet if we live as naturally as possible, we can get a better grasp on the true essence of life as Levin does in the novel. He finds joy out of working and enjoying the fruits of his labor, instead of indulging himself in the materialism of the hypocritical aristocrats. Modern culture has lost this aspect of life and we need to check ourselves before we lead our lives into a downfall.

Works Cited:

Tolstoy, Leo. Anna Karenina, trans. Constance Garnett (New York: The Modern Library, 1993).

 

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