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Anna Karenina - Happy Families are All Alike

Uploaded by SchoolStinks! on Jun 19, 2005

I first read Anna Karenina as a young women entranced with the milieu of Anna's character and Tolstoy's depiction of her romantic and social dilemmas. In the story of Anna Karenina, the conundrums surrounding Anna's pursuit of an emancipated life with her a chosen lover threatens to consume everything meaningful to her; social position, wealth and family. Yet she remains an enormously sympathetic character as she is borne along by desire.

Anna's compelling love is wrested from the dreary ruins of an emotionally unsatisfying marriage. The price extracted from her for the experience of romantic fulfillment is destruction of her life. Someone, somewhere once said: "half the sin is scandal."

Anna's fate is a great work of archtypal denouement ending in tragedy. Yet importantly, Anna's demise is not the end of the book, nor is her saga the complete "story." Anna Karenina's character embodies the conflict of individual fulfillment in opposition to the obligation we all have to society. Like the world of the late 19th century, the greater world of our day remains painfully unromantic. This what makes Anna Karenina devastating and timeless.

I have read the story of Anna Karenina four times. After finishing the book for the second time, I began to see the deeper parable of Tolstoy's story. I saw that a second, less obvious story existed in the novel that bears the lesson of Tolstoy's opening sentence of the book, a great classic among opening lines . . ."Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way..."

The story of Kitty and Levin lend the very human wisdom of this legendary first sentence. Though less dramatic than Anna and certainly more conventional, Kitty and Levin are as much tortured by their desire to find true love as Anna.

In contrast to Anna and Vronsky's characters, Kitty and Levin choose to stay within prescribed boundaries of their societal positions. Tolstoy accurately portrays Kitty's severe depression at being jilted by Vronsky for Anna and Levin's (Tolstoy's autobiographical character in the novel) frustrated withdrawal after rejection by Kitty takes him into a self-imposed exile where he attempts liberal reform of his country estate. At this point in the story, Levin can been seen as a leading actor in drama of ethics played out in story.

"Anna Karenina' is a classic study of the human condition, examined from the heart and viewed from within...

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Uploaded by:   SchoolStinks!

Date:   06/19/2005

Category:   Literature

Length:   3 pages (582 words)

Views:   8210

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