Anna Karenina: a novel that causes dizziness

By Flavor Chris

The deceived bridegroom, the adulterous bride and the adulterous accomplice. “Anna Karenina” novel that causes dizziness. Eight hundred pages that tell the story of a woman who, in order to free herself from social conventions, chooses suicide as the only path.

ANNA KARENINA Without a shadow of a doubt, Lev Tolstoy was able to analyze the human soul and the relationship between two or more people.

With the novel “Anna Karenina”, published in 1877, the Russian writer, in fact, was able to present characters who, faced with a terrible dilemma, conditioned on each other end up making inconceivable choices ( as Levin, one of the protagonists of the work in question, would say).

Those who read the book, from the very first lines, find a problematic situation in itself; at the same time the author, tacitly, asks to evaluate the events. In the initial chapter we learn that Stepan Arkad’ic Oblonsky, “a man who chose neither trends nor opinions”, betrayed his wife Darya, “a woman who is exhausted, aged, no longer beautiful and not at all interesting , a good mother of a family only “.

The adulterous accomplice is m.lle Rolland, the housekeeper, whom the adulterous husband will remember in the course of the story because of her smile and murderous black eyes. Here the characters try (unsuccessfully) to dominate themselves by trying to make wise decisions, however every effort will be impossible, since they can’t find a way to get used to thinking and acting as they always did: Stepan Arkad’ic “can’t deceive himself for being sorry for what he did “and Dolly” despite wanting to punish Stepan, he is unable to prepare his and the children’s stuff to carry it to his mother “.

As in “War and Peace” one gets the impression that the author wants to set the record straight from the start: fatality inexorably pursues men.

Not surprisingly, Stepan Arkad’ic’s sister, Anna Arkad’evna (wife of Aleksej aleksandrovic Karenin, “a man who occupies one of the highest levels in the ministry”) is called to settle the disagreement between the two spouses; and at that point the whole story begins to take shape and a tangle of passions and interests arise throughout history.

Before making an analysis of the main character, Anna, however, it is only right to pause and say that reading the novel, the author perfectly represents “the worldly circle of Petersburg”: a place where everyone knows each other and exchanges visits, but above all a place where everyone manages to plot intrigues. Stepan Arkad’ic himself, a lazy and absent-minded student at the time, it turns out that he got “a remarkable and well-paid job” thanks to his close relationship with Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin. Furthermore, it must be emphasized that when initially Stepan Arkad’ic, meeting Levin, “a companion and friend of his early youth”, and tells him that “the purpose of evolution lies in making everything a pleasure”, it is not he who speaks but a whole group of people who manifest a common thought within society.

Reading the novel “Anna Karenina”, therefore, becomes a necessary and fundamental question if we want to take human events into consideration, also because the author brings the question back to its starting point, to its essential terms. Tolstoy shows us that everything originates from the family and where there is no authentic love, what will matter most will only be wealth, power and prestige.

Thus, as happens to the secondary protagonists of the story, when parents have to marry their daughters it is obvious that “they must expect the best match”. Starting from the strict education, it can be noted that the woman “is obliged to do what is expected of her, that is, dance, answer questions, speak, even smile”.

Page after page, the educational system described is a system that annihilates, so much so that Anna Karenina herself, who arrived at the Oblonsky house to settle the disagreement between the two spouses, secretly tells the young Kitty that “for her there are no dances where you have fun “.

So, the confession of a woman who, despite her beauty, elegance and attractive expression, is ultimately a mother with “a restrained vivacity that wanders on her face and flashes between her bright eyes”; of a wife who, returning from the Oblonkij home, meeting her husband, looking at him, “experiences an unpleasant sensation, which she did not notice before”; of a woman who “begins to perceive clearly the nature of her feelings” only after she accidentally meets Levin’s rival in love, Vronsky, who previously lured Kitty without any intention of marrying her.

At first glance, the reader might define Karenina as an unhappy woman unable to love, since, quoting her words, “love is a word that she does not like also because it means something too big for her”; but to limit ourselves to saying this would be an understatement.

Perhaps it would be more correct to say the opposite, that is to say that Anna is a creature who has never been loved, or at least, has never been loved by her husband. Aleksej Aleksandrovic, a cold, detached and rational man, and “he had never clearly represented her intimate life, her thoughts, her desires” before the hypothesis of a betrayal by his wives could take over; from the beginning he exercised his right of ownership over her, as if Anna were “one thing among things”.

When he abandons himself in a long reflection and says to himself “the question of his feelings, of what happens and can happen in his soul is none of my business”, in reality he expresses a common thought that embraces all men ( and sometimes even women) who belong to a society that diminishes the intrinsic value of women and leaves no room for big questions.

A society, therefore, which first denies being the possibility of being, after which it blames the one who feeds the impossible, fearful and fascinating desire for happiness. At this point, however, the author’s predominant point of view must be taken into account.

As also happened at the beginning of the story, when Anna decides to permanently end the relationship with her husband to escape with Vronsky, Tolstoy makes constant references to biblical events. At a certain point, going deeper and deeper into the story, it almost seems to recall the Pericope of the adulteress, a story that is found in John 8: 1 – 11.

Indeed, within the passage there is the story of a woman who is caught in the act of adultery and is brought before Jesus so that he can express his sentence. In both stories there is the figure of a “poor woman” who is compared to the figure of a “merciful” character: Anna, the guilty one, the wife who abandoned her family to escape with Vronsky, is approached by the figure of Levin, a young, serious aristocrat who “knows with certainty that the attainment of the common good is possible only with a severe fulfillment of that law of goodness which is revealed to every man”.

If on the one hand there is Anna, a woman oppressed by a sense of guilt and badly judged by public opinion; on the other hand there is Levin, a conflicted man and sometimes despised by the Petersburg society for his simple and sober lifestyle in the countryside.

Two similar characters, but different in that, at the end of the novel, when the conflict moves towards a resolution, the first, having fallen into perdition, chooses to commit suicide; while the second, in spite of adversity, finding faith chooses life.

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