Anna Karenina

Walking into Mr. Roach’s english class on the first day, I did not know what to expect. Frankly, because I for one, was not aware it was similar to an honors course, but two, while I heard upstanding things about Roach as a teacher, I was not sure if the class would be a calm breeze or if my classmates and I would actually have to push ourselves during the final stretch of our senior year. Taking a seat on the right side of the table, we sped through introducing ourselves and immediately dove into the novel that we would be reading for the rest of the term, Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. Opening the book, we instantly came across the line, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” and as a class we began to analyze who we thought might be saying those words. It is not until now, eight hundred and seventeen pages later, that I believe Anna was the one who declared her need for revenge. Throughout the story, Leo Tolstoy not only takes his readers on a roller coaster journey and teaches them valuable lessons, but he explores the conscious and unconscious motives of why people do the things they do along with our powerlessness against circumstances and our determination to change them.

The well known saying ‘All that glitters isn’t gold,” is a phrase that holds significant meaning throughout Anna Karenina, because it shows love depicted by comparisons. In the beginning of the novel, readers are introduced and given a glimpse of the relationship between a young eighteen year oldKitty Alexandrovna, and an older Anna Karenina, two women whose romances are casted side by side; shown explicitly during Kitty’s debutante ball. Kitty who is looking for a suitor, rejects Konstantin Levin’s marriage proposal and leaves him heartbroken even though she has love him; “And by that one glance of her involuntarily brightened eyes Levin understood that she loved this man, understood it as surely as if she had told it to him in words” (50) Despite this, Kitty is actually in love with Count Vronsky as she believes strongly that he is the better match. However, Kitty does not realize that she just refused a man who wouldnot only cherish and value her but hold her on a pedestal. “But she immediately thought of the one she had exchanged him for. She vividly recalled that manly, firm face, the noble calm and kindness that shone in him… the love for her of the one she loved, and again she felt joy in her soul” (54). Despite the strong feelings that Kitty has towards Vronsky, readers are given insight into his thoughts as it soon becomes clear that they may not be on the same page after all because both of them want different things. “Still less could he have believed that he was obliged to marry her. Marriage had never presented itself as a possibility to him. He not only did not like family life, but pictured the family as something alien, hostile, and above all ridiculous” (57).Vronsky’s bachelor mindset is similar to the independent free will thinking that Anna embodies, which is shown through their flirtatious encounter at the ball. It is not until this point when Kitty realizes her mistake, “No one except herself understood her situation. No one knew that a few days before she had (rejected) a man whom she perhaps loved, and had refused him because she trusted another” (82).As Vronsky is swept off his feet by Anna’s demeanor and beauty, resentment festers in Kitty because she realizes that Vronsky is not as taken aback withher.. Additionally, readers notice how Anna slyly but purposefully steals the limelight from Kitty by not only standing out in a seductive black dress, but it is through her confidence and persona, that one cannot help but gaze admiringly at her; “there was something terrible and cruel in her enchantment… (Kitty) felt crushed and her face showed it” (83).Even though Kitty is humiliated, Dolly appears to be the angel in disguise because through her conversation with Anna, she says, “ To tell you the truth, I don’t want this marriage for Kitty. It’s better that it comes to nothing, if he, Vronsky could fall in love with you in one day” (98). Once Anna hears this, her manipulative mind starts to turn and she begins to plot and scheme on how to get Vronsky to be all hers. Overall, this love triangle ties in to “All that glitters isn’t gold,” because while Kitty was confronted with the choice between two suitors and picked the more attractive and alluring Vronsky, he quickly falls in love with Anna; but at the end of Tolstoy’s novel, leaves her just as heartbroken as Kitty once was. This situation verifies that while someone might be the more attractive match, it is does not mean they are the better option.Vronsky demonstrates his intentions through a poor light, and towards the end he does not even show he is worth it. Eventually Kitty and Levin reunite and despite his mediocre looks, it is Levin’s heart and deep care for Kitty that proves him to be the much more reliable partner.

Although Vronsky and Anna fall in love with each other, their relationship starts to negatively affect their lives, taking a turn for the worst. According to Merriam Webster, the word‘sacrifice’ is defined as ‘something given up or lost. In Tolstoy’s novel, Anna Karenina,Anna literally risks everything she has such as, her role in society, her husband, and her child, all in pursuit of true love and happiness. Although Anna’s sacrifice of her own life seemed to be rewarding at first, it does not benefit her in the long run, because those who cared about her most end up getting hurt in the process. “His wife’s words,confirming his worst doubts, produced a cruel pain in Alexei Alexandrovich’ heart. This pain was further intensified by a strange pain of physical pity for her…” (280).When Anna tells Alexei that she is Vronsky’s mistress, she has high hopes that Alexei will want nothing to do with her so she can live her life freely with Vronsky. However, Alexei refuses to grant her divorce in fear that it will become too public in society and reflect poorly on his reputation.This outcome results in many arguments between Vronsky and Anna, and Vronsky starts to spend less time with her, which puts much strain on their relationship. Thus, because Anna no longer has anyone to turn to, the selfishness of her own needs causes her to use any instance of altercations as leverage against Vronsky, in order to guilt trip him into sympathy so he can be with her; “He assured her of his love, because he saw that that alone could calm her now, and he did not reproach her in words, but in his soul he did reproach her” (549). However, with everything that Anna has given up, she does not feel that Vronsky has done the same, because she had more to lose. Although Vronsky is with Anna, readers cannot help but feel that he wishes he was not in this predicament. While the chase of trying to get Anna in the beginning was fun, along with the thrill of hiding and sneaking around, now that much time has passed, it is as ifVronsky is bored and tired of her and is only with her out of obligation. Additionally, it seems that Vronsky will never truly be satisfied, because he does not show genuine commitment towards Anna. There is anunderlying notion that Vronsky wishes to go back to his old womanizing days of being a ‘free man,’ instead of being someone who is tied down. Even though Vronsky is Anna’s greatest love, he is also her greatest enemy, and while they dohave moments of pure joy together, the multiple problems they face outweigh the good; with neither one of them seeming as happy together as they once were. The overall love that Vronsky and Anna have is hasty and egocentric, and Anna’s despair throughout their relationship ultimately results in her taking her own life, just to revenge herself on him one last time. By Anna throwing herself in front of a train as an act of suicide, she only hopes to cause Vronsky the same frustrations that she felt during the time they were together. “The love that she felt should have been concentrated on her alone, had diminished. She blamed him for everything that was difficult in her situation...The cruelty with which he had destroyed the world she had so laboriously built up for herself” (744). At this point, Anna is extremely fed up with the relationship, which has turned out to be such a burden in the life they have created. It is clear that Anna is spiteful towards Vronsky because of how unhappy she is, along with the rejection she feels from her family and social circle.Additionally, since Anna doesn not believe that Vronsky loves her, her retaliation of committing suicide is validated in the fact that she hopes to make him as miserable as she was. It also proves that she may not have loved him as much as readers believed she did. This is because when you love someone, you do not want to see them go through physical or emotional pain, nor be the cause of it. As Deuteronomy 32:35 states, “ Vengeance is mine, and recompense. Their foot shall slip in due time . For the day of their calamity is at hand and the things to come hasten upon them.” All in all, while it seemed that Vronsky and Anna had a strong connection going, they each took turns dividing their relationship to a point where it could not even be salvaged.

In conclusion, throughout Anna Karenina, Tolstoy explores many themes and teaches his readers many valuable lessons, especially in terms of love and relationships. In Anna and Vronsky’s love affair, one can see that their bond was based solely on passion and lust, instead of tender deep care and affection for their significant other. Vronsky and Anna did not compliment each other as their love only proved to be a destructive force as it was solely based on vanity.Additionally, when it comes to finding a partner, one should focus more on personality instead of depending solely on looks, because that will eventually fade over time. While Levin was less attractive than Vronsky, he had the better heart and was patient, kind, and caring from the beginning. There was never any doubt that he loved Kitty for who she was and he admired her more once they were married. Kitty and Levin did not rush into their relationship as they had time to grow into themselves resulting in a blossoming happy couple. Overall, Tolstoy’s novel, Anna Karenina emphasizes the importance of truly taking the time to find ‘the one.’