Anna Karenina Summary

Summary (Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

The source of Tolstoy’s next great novel, Anna Karenina, lies in an idea that he conveyed to his wife in 1870. He wanted to write a story about a married woman who is disgraced by a sexual scandal. He would depict her “not as culpable, but as uniquely worthy of pity.” This story he knew from his own family: his only sister, Marya, had recently left her husband for an adulterous liaison with a Swedish viscount. Two years later, he saw firsthand the potential disastrous results of such a passion. One of his neighbors cast off his mistress, Anna Stepanovna Pirogova, who then threw herself under a train. Tolstoy viewed her remains afterward. Within the year, he began writing Anna Karenina. He was stimulated further by his reading of Alexander Pushkin’s Povesti Belkina (1831; Russian Romance, 1875), which he admired. He was struck by the phrase, “The guests were arriving at the country house,” and began to write his story around it.

Anna Karenina begins with the oft-quoted line, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” In this novel, Tolstoy portrays both a happy and an unhappy family. The happy Constantine Levin and his wife, Kitty, resemble Pierre and Natasha Bezukhov in War and Peace because of their positive attitudes in the face of adversity and their compassion toward other people. Levin and Kitty’s rapport is such that Levin exclaims that he does “not know where she ended and he began.”

The marriage of Alexey and Anna Karenin, on the other hand, is a loveless match held in place by the dictates of society. When Anna meets a dashing officer of the guards, Alexey Vronsky, she readily abandons her husband and son for the sake of illicit passion. Far from being an ennobling force, Anna and Vronsky’s love leads to chaos, ruin, and, eventually, Anna’s death under the wheels of an oncoming train.

Throughout the novel, the characters of Anna and Levin are compared and contrasted. Distantly related through marriage (Anna’s brother is married to Kitty’s sister), they make life choices that are diametrically opposed to each other. Anna is a young, beautiful, intelligent, vital woman who...

(The entire section is 916 words.)

Anna Karenina Summary (Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Anna Karenina, the sister of Stepan Oblonsky, comes to Moscow in an attempt to patch up a quarrel between her brother and his wife, Dolly. There she meets the handsome young Count Vronsky, who is rumored to be in love with Dolly’s younger sister, Kitty. Konstantine Levin, of an old Muscovite family, is also in love with Kitty, and his visit to Moscow coincides with Anna’s. Kitty refuses Levin, but to her chagrin she receives no proposal from the count. Indeed, Vronsky has no intention of proposing to Kitty. His heart goes out to Anna the first time he lays eyes on her, and when Anna returns to her home in St. Petersburg, he follows her.

Soon they begin to be seen together at soirées and at the theater, apparently unaware of gossip that circulates about them. Karenin, Anna’s husband, becomes concerned. A coldly ambitious and dispassionate man, he believes that his social position is at stake. One night, he discusses these rumors with Anna and points out the danger of her flirtation, as he calls it. He forbids her to entertain Vronsky at home and cautions her to be more careful. He is not jealous of his wife, only worried over the social consequences of her behavior. He reminds her of her duty to her young son, Seryozha. Anna says she will obey him, and there the matter rests.

Anna, however, is unable to conceal her true feelings when Vronsky is injured in a racetrack accident. Karenin upbraids her for her indiscreet behavior in public. He considers a duel, separation, and divorce but rejects all these courses. When he finally decides to keep Anna under his roof, he reflects that he is acting in accordance with the laws of religion. Anna continues to meet Vronsky in secret.

Levin returns to his country estate after Kitty refuses him, and he busies himself there in problems of agriculture and peasant labor. One day, he goes into the fields and works with a scythe along with the serfs. He believes that he is beginning to understand the old primitive philosophy of their lives. He plans new developments, among them a cooperative enterprise system. When he hears that Kitty is not married after all and that she was ill but will soon be returning to Moscow, he resolves to seek her hand in marriage once more. Secretly, he knows she loves him. His pride, as well as hers, keeps them apart. Accordingly, Levin makes the journey to Moscow with new hope that soon Kitty will be his wife.

Against her husband’s orders, Anna sends for Vronsky and tells him that she is pregnant. Aware of...

(The entire section is 1031 words.)

Anna Karenina Chapter Summaries

Part 1, Chapter 1 Summary

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” At the Oblonsky house, everything is in confusion. Three days ago the wife discovered that her husband is having an affair with their former French governess, and she told him she cannot go on living in the same house with him. Now everyone in the family is conscious of the chasm and acts like strangers. The wife has not left her room and the husband is gone; the children have taken over the house; the English governess is looking for a new job after fighting with the housekeeper; the chef left yesterday just before dinner, and two other servants have given their notice.

On the third morning out of the house, Prince Stepan Arkadyevitch Oblonsky (“Stiva,” to the society world) wakes up at his usual 8:00 a.m. on the leather sofa in his study. He turns his “stout, well-cared-for” body over as if he will fall asleep again, but then he suddenly sits up and remembers the delightful dream he had been having. It was a dream of fine dining, opera music, and fashionable people—including women.

He puts on his slippers, the fine gold-colored Moroccan slippers his wife made him, and reaches for his dressing gown as he has for the past nine years. Then he remembers that he is not sleeping in his wife’s room. When he remembers why, the smile vanishes from his face. He recalls every detail of the argument, feels again the hopelessness of his situation, and knows it is all his fault. He moans in despair at the pain he is feeling because of this quarrel.

The most unpleasant memory for him is the moment he arrived home in such a good mood after the theater, a huge pear in his hand, to discover his wife sitting in her bedroom with the revelatory letter in her hand. He was used to seeing Darya Alexandrovna (“Dolly”) fuss with the details of the house, but then she looked at him with a expression of “horror, despair, and indignation.” She asked him about the letter, and he did what so many people do when they have been caught in a disgrace.

Instead of trying to defend himself or beg for forgiveness—or even feign indifference—Stepan Arkadyevitch simply gave her an idiotic smile. Darya Alexandrovna was infuriated at that smirk and berated him cruelly; she has refused to see him ever since. Stepan Arkadyevitch regrets that smile more than anything and blames it for his problems. Again he despairs and wonders what can be done to remedy his situation.

Part 1, Chapter 2 Summary

Stepan Arkadyevitch is incapable of deceiving himself into thinking he has repented of his unacceptable behavior. He knows he is a thirty-four-year-old man who is not in love with his wife and the mother of his seven children, two dead and five living. He also knows the only thing he feels remorse about is getting caught in the affair and should have anticipated his wife’s reaction. Stepan Arkadyevitch had assumed that his wife understood that he no longer found her attractive, that she was a washed-up, tired-looking, middle-aged, uninteresting woman, though she was only a year younger than him. He had assumed that she knew he was unfaithful and had simply chosen to ignore it. In fact, he believed it was only fair that she be indulgent out of fairness for his intolerable position. Instead, she had been appalled and angry.

Before this rift, they had been content. She was happy to raise the children and run the household with absolutely no interference from him, and he was happy with Mademoiselle Roland, the governess. Stepan Arkadyevitch is proud of the fact that he had enough self-control not to dally with her in their home. And the woman is now gone, after all. If he cannot go back to his dream, he must move forward with his day.

He puts on his dressing gown, lined with blue silk, and takes a deep breath before opening the blinds of his study and ringing the bell loudly. Matvey, his long-time valet and friend, arrives immediately with his clothes, his boots, and a telegram. After him comes the barber with shaving equipment. Stepan Arkadyevitch asks for any office paperwork, and with a sly grin Matvey says there are papers from the carriage-jobbers, but he told them to come on Sunday and not to trouble Stepan Arkadyevitch before then.

The telegram is from Stepan Arkadyevitch’s sister and it makes him smile. Anna Arkadyevna, his sister, is coming for a visit and will be here tomorrow. Matvey is also pleased. Both men...

(The entire section is 555 words.)

Part 1, Chapter 3 Summary

Stepan Arkadyevitch dresses himself meticulously, feeling good about his physical condition even though he is unhappy on the inside. He reads some business letters while he drinks his coffee, and then he reads the paper. It is a liberal newspaper that reflects the views of the majority, which is always the view he takes. If the views of the majority change, his views change as well because he did not choose them to begin with. He has no interest in science, art, or politics; however, he believes whatever the majority believes about each of them. In his social circles, it is important to have views on such things. Though he could have chosen either liberal or conservative views and still been accepted in those social circles, he...

(The entire section is 542 words.)

Part 1, Chapter 4 Summary

Darya Alexandrovna is a worn-out woman doing her best to take her children and leave her husband, but she is too much in the habit of loving him to do so. She knows she is ineffectual with her children even in ideal circumstances, and she knows things would be worse if she left. Still, when she hears her husband walk into her room, she assumes the pretense of packing to leave, though her face betrays her “bewilderment and suffering.” He calls her Dolly and tries to look humble and pitiful, but she can see that he is robust and healthy and she hates his good nature.

Stepan Arkadyevitch tells her his sister is coming, but his wife begins shrieking at him to go away. Stepan Arkadyevitch can usually be calm and pursue...

(The entire section is 526 words.)

Part 1, Chapter 5 Summary

Though Stepan Arkadyevitch learned easily in school, he was one of the lowest in his class because he was lazy and mischievous. He was fortunate that his sister’s husband, Alexey Alexandrovitch Karenin, got him an honorable position as president of a government board, and thankfully it paid well because his financial situation was embarrassing, despite his wife’s considerable property.

Half of the citizens in Moscow and Petersburg are related to Stepan Arkadyevitch, who was born among people of great power, and they took care of him as one of their own. People like him for his good nature as well as his “unquestionable honesty,” and he is met with delight nearly everywhere he goes no matter how often people see...

(The entire section is 508 words.)

Part 1, Chapter 6 Summary

Konstantin Levin recalls blushing when Stepan Arkadyevitch asked him why he came to town, and that was because he could not tell him the truth: he had come to town to make Kitty Shtcherbatsky an offer. The Levins and the Shtcherbatskys are old, noble Moscow families, and the young people of both families grew up together. Levin prepared for and entered university with Prince Shtcherbatsky, the brother of Dolly and Kitty. In those days, Levin was often in their home and was much in love with the entire family. His mother and father had died and his only sister was much older, so it was in this household that Levin learned what an “old, noble, cultivated, and honorable” family was.

Because of that, Levin has always...

(The entire section is 544 words.)

Part 1, Chapter 7 Summary

After Levin arrived in Moscow by train this morning, he came to his half-brother’s house. After changing clothes and refreshing himself, Levin entered Sergey Ivanovitch Koznishev’s study and intended to talk with him about his plans and ask his advice, but his brother was not alone. He was engaged in a discussion with a professor of philosophy who is writing a series of articles against materialists. After the most recent article, Koznishev wrote the professor a letter stating his objections to the professor’s positions and now the man is here to debate the issue in person.

After greeting Levin with the chilly smile he gives everyone and introducing him to the professor, Koznishev resumes his conversation and both...

(The entire section is 385 words.)

Part 1, Chapter 8 Summary

Once the professor leaves, Koznishev expresses his delight at seeing his brother and asks if Levin is here for a long visit and how the farming is going. Levin knows his brother has no interest in farming, so he only relates a few details connected to money. Until now, Levin had intended to tell his brother about his plan to marry and get his advice on the matter; now, however, he is reluctant to do so. The discussion with the professor along with his brother’s patronizing manner when he asked about the farm (which belongs to them equally though Levin manages both their shares) have created doubt.

What is important to Koznishev are the local boards and politics in the country, but when he asks about them, Levin does...

(The entire section is 433 words.)

Part 1, Chapter 9 Summary

Levin arrives at the Zoological Gardens at four o’clock and walks the path to the skating area. The more he tries to compose himself, the more breathless he gets. An acquaintance calls his name but Levin does not even recognize him as he moves closer to the ice rink. As soon as he sees the skaters he recognizes the one he came to see because he feels his heart constrict.

Kitty is talking to another lady and there is nothing about her which particularly distinguishes her from anyone else in the crowd; for Levin, though, she is as striking and noticeable as a rose among thorns. Where she stands is holy ground to Levin, and he wonders if he dares to approach her. In fact, for a moment he considers retreating, but he...

(The entire section is 528 words.)

Part 1, Chapter 10 Summary

Stepan Arkadyevitch works the restaurant as he would a social gathering, making himself at home and others at ease. Levin refrains from having any vodka and is glowing with happiness. The two men are treated like royalty by the staff and Levin allows the other man to order for them both, as he knows his more rustic tastes will be ridiculed here. Though he knows exactly what he wants, Stepan Arkadyevitch refuses to call the dishes by their proper French names.

As they eat, Stepan Arkadyevitch can see that Levin is a bit ill at ease. When he asks about it, Levin explains that life in the city, including the rich foods and fancy manners surrounding them here, makes him uncomfortable. He prefers to be a savage if this is...

(The entire section is 544 words.)

Part 1, Chapter 11 Summary

As they finish their meal, Stepan Arkadyevitch orders another bottle of champagne and tells Levin he should know that he has a rival for Kitty’s love, a man named Vronsky. Suddenly Levin’s hopefulness turns to anger and it shows in his unpleasant expression.

Vronsky is the son of a count and is one of the most commendable men among the “gilded youth” of St. Petersburg. Stepan Arkadyevitch met Vronsky once, a young man of great wealth, exceptional good looks, and powerful connections; in addition, the young man is personable, cultivated, and intelligent. Vronsky is a man who will “make his mark.” Levin scowls and says nothing as Stepan Arkadyevitch recalls that Vronsky came around shortly after Levin left and...

(The entire section is 554 words.)

Part 1, Chapter 12 Summary

Princess Kitty Shtcherbatsky is eighteen years old, and nearly every man in society is in love with her after her first winter among them. Two suitors have expressed serious interest in her. The first to do so was Levin, but immediately after Levin left abruptly for the country, Vronsky made his intentions known. Even though he left, Levin’s attentions caused Kitty’s parents to have their first serious discussion about their daughter’s future.

Kitty’s father prefers Levin, but Kitty’s mother does not understand Levin and thinks her daughter can do much better. She does not understand how Levin could have spent six weeks in constant attendance on Kitty without offering for her hand, as most men would have done....

(The entire section is 508 words.)

Part 1, Chapter 13 Summary

After dinner, Kitty’s heart is pounding with the intensity of a young man’s before going into battle as she waits to see Levin this evening, an evening she believes will be the turning point in her life. As she thinks about her past, Kitty has nothing but fond memories of her relations with Levin. She feels certain of his love and finds it flattering and delightful; in contrast, there has always been an element of awkwardness in her exchanges with Vronsky.

The flaw is not in him, for he has never been anything but simple and nice to her; however, there is always a “false note” when she is with Vronsky. On the other hand, when she looks into the future, Kitty sees a life of “brilliant happiness” with Vronsky;...

(The entire section is 537 words.)

Part 1, Chapter 14 Summary

The princess arrives just at that awkward moment, horrified at seeing them alone and then, after seeing their faces, thankful to see that Kitty has refused Levin. She sits and begins questioning Levin about life in the country while he hopes fervently for more visitors so he can slip out unnoticed. Five minutes later Countess Nordston, a friend of Kitty’s, arrives. She wants her friend to marry Vronsky and has never liked Levin.

Levin and Nordston despise each other to such a degree that they do not take anything the other says seriously and are not offended by the other. They spar just a bit before a woman enters the room followed by an officer. Levin can see from the look on Kitty’s face that this is Vronsky and...

(The entire section is 468 words.)

Part 1, Chapter 15 Summary

Once the guests leave, Kitty tells her mother about the conversation with Levin and is thrilled at the thought of having received an offer despite her pity for Levin. Though she has no doubts about her decision, she has difficulty sleeping as she can still see the hurt in his kind eyes. She feels so sorry for him that tears come to her eyes until she thinks about the man for whom she let Levin go. Once again she feels gladness, thinking about her love for Vronsky and his love for her. She falls asleep to the inner turmoil of guilt, happiness, and doubts.

In the library below, Kitty’s parents are having a typical disagreement concerning their youngest daughter. The prince is outraged that his wife is disgracing herself...

(The entire section is 473 words.)

Part 1, Chapter 16 Summary

Vronsky has never really had a home life. His mother was a young, scintillating socialite who, even once she was married, was notorious in the fashionable world for her many love affairs. His father was only a dim memory to him, and Vronsky had been educated among the Corps of Pages.

He left school as a brilliant young officer and had at once been absorbed into St. Petersburg’s society of wealthy army men, though most of his love affairs have been conducted outside of that circle. It was a rather coarse and luxurious life. After coming to Moscow, he for the first time felt the charm and innocence of a girl in his own social standing who cared for him. It never occurred to him that there could be any harm in enjoying...

(The entire section is 451 words.)

Part 1, Chapter 17 Summary

The next morning, Vronsky sees Oblonsky at the St. Petersburg rail station. Vronsky is there to meet his mother, and Oblonsky is there to meet his sister, Anna Karenina. Oblonsky asks the younger man where he went after his visit to the Shtcherbatskys’, and Vronsky tells him the truth: that he felt so good after the visit that he was uninterested in going anywhere else. Oblonsky teases him about being in love. Vronsky smiles without comment and changes the subject.

Vronsky remembers something “stiff and tedious” associated with the name Karenina, but he does know her husband, Alexey Alexandrovitch, by reputation and by sight. The celebrated man is known to be a learned and somewhat religious man, something with...

(The entire section is 503 words.)

Part 1, Chapter 18 Summary

On his way to his mother’s compartment, Vronsky passes a woman striking enough to make him look at her again once he passes her. She is obviously a woman of the best society but is not particularly beautiful; however, there is a light in her eyes which, when she looks back at him and then promptly away again, displays a “suppressed eagerness” which also shows in her faint smile. It as if she tries to shroud the brilliance in her eyes but it shows nonetheless.

When Vronsky steps into the carriage, his “dried-up” old mother smiles at him tightly and squints at him with her black eyes. He asks about her journey, but he is listening to a voice outside of the carriage which he knows must belong to the woman he just...

(The entire section is 552 words.)

Part 1, Chapter 19 Summary

When Anna Karenina arrives in Darya Alexandrovna’s room, her sister-in-law is dealing with her youngest son and nervously knitting a coverlet. She has prepared for Anna Karenina’s arrival, despite her depressed state, because she has no reason to blame her for her brother’s behavior and she has never been anything but kind and gracious to her—despite her impression that there was something artificial in Anna Karenina’s family life. Darya Alexandrovna is torn between the need to talk to someone about her problems and sharing her humiliation with her husband’s sister.

Anna Karenina’s greeting is warm, but she is in no hurry to have a private discussion just yet; instead she meets all the children and...

(The entire section is 504 words.)

Part 1, Chapter 20 Summary

During her first day in Moscow, Anna Karenina receives no visitors, though several of her friends call on her; instead she spends the day with Darya Alexandrovna and her children. At dinner, the entire family gathers, and she calls her husband “Stiva” as she once used to do. Right after dinner Kitty arrives, feeling some trepidation about meeting such a fashionable St. Petersburg woman about whom everyone speaks so highly. In no time at all, however, Anna Karenina wins Kitty over by her charm and youthful eagerness more befitting a woman of twenty than a mother of an eight-year-old. In fact, Kitty adores her, feeling as if there is much to be learned from such a woman.

After dinner Darya Alexandrovna retires to her...

(The entire section is 439 words.)

Part 1, Chapter 21 Summary

At teatime, Darya Alexandrovna appears but her husband does not; she worries about Anna Karenina’s comfort and plans to move her so she will be warmer. From her tone, Anna Karenina cannot determine whether a reconciliation has happened, but once Stepan Arkadyevitch enters the room both she and Kitty can tell that the couple has made their peace.

During the entire evening, Darya Alexandrovitch’s tone is slightly mocking and her husband is happy and cheerful (mindful that he has been forgiven but his offense has not been forgotten). At nine-thirty, this simple, peaceful family gathering is interrupted by an apparently simple incident which nevertheless seems strange to them all.

As the group discusses...

(The entire section is 409 words.)

Part 1, Chapter 22 Summary

Kitty and her mother arrive just as the ball is beginning, and the young girl is a stunningly beautiful tonight. She is elaborately coiffured and dressed, though it appears none of her preparations cost her any time or preparation, that it was all done with ease. It is one of Kitty’s best days, and she feels as if everything must be nice and graceful and in place. Everything from her hair to her slippers is perfect in her eyes on this most important night. Both outside and in, she is scintillating.

She is swept into her first dance, a waltz, with one of the most important men at the ball and he flatters her—as he does every partner with whom he dances—that she is exquisite precision on the dance floor. Kitty...

(The entire section is 445 words.)

Part 1, Chapter 23 Summary

Vronsky and Kitty waltz around the room several times and Kitty barely has time to visit with friends before he is back for their quadrille. Their conversation is inconsequential and rather stilted, but Kitty is not dismayed and has put all her hopes on the mazurka, assuming they will dance together as always and turning down five other young men in anticipation of Vronsky’s invitation. During this dance, she imagines everything will be decided.

As Kitty watches Anna Karenina, she sees an intoxication which she recognizes from her own experience, a euphoria and deliberate precision which is feeding on admiration. What she does not know is if it is the admiration of the crowd or of one in particular, and as the evening...

(The entire section is 525 words.)

Part 1, Chapter 24 Summary

As he leaves the Shtcherbatskys’ and walks toward his brother’s house, Levin thinks there is something hateful and repulsive in him since he does not get along well with other people. It is clear he has no pride; if he did, he would not have subjected himself to a humiliation such as he suffered earlier this evening. He berates himself, believing no one would ever choose him over a man like Vronsky, and is angry at himself for ignoring his brother tonight just so he could make this social call. Levin calls for a sledge and gives the driver Nikolay’s address.

On the way to his brother’s house, Levin remembers Nikolay as he was in college, living like a monk and renouncing all forms of pleasure, despite the...

(The entire section is 473 words.)

Part 1, Chapter 25 Summary

Nikolay has trouble stringing several thoughts together, but Levin is not really listening anyway. He is looking at his brother and feeling sorrier for him as Nikolay talks about a new venture which is clearly nothing more than a diversion to save himself from self-contempt. Nikolay finishes his speech with a diatribe against the social system which treats workers as beasts and gives all profits to the merchants and landowners. Levin simply nods in agreement when Nikolay stops for breath.

The three of them are founding a locksmith association in a village where all profits and productions will be shared in common. Levin sighs, which exasperates Nikolay into a tirade against both Levin’s and Sergey Ivanovitch’s...

(The entire section is 546 words.)

Part 1, Chapter 26 Summary

Levin leaves Moscow the next morning and reaches home in the evening. On the journey he talks with others and is still consumed by shame and confused by new ideas, along with feeling a general sense of dissatisfaction. When he gets off the train, Levin is met by his old driver Ignat, and begins to hear the news about all the minor things which happened when he was gone. Levin feels the confusion and shame begin to dissipate. He feels himself once again and is content; he has no desire to be anyone else. Now all he wants is to be better than he was before, and he begins by resolving never to expect such an extraordinary happiness as marriage and will therefore appreciate what he has.

He will never again let his passions...

(The entire section is 420 words.)

Part 1, Chapter 27 Summary

The morning after the ball, Anna Karenina sends her husband a telegram saying she will be leaving Moscow today. Her sister-in-law pleads with her to stay, but she claims she has so many things to do she cannot even number them all. Stepan Arkadyevitch is out but has promised to come see his sister off at seven o’clock. Kitty has sent a note saying she is ill, so Darya Alexandrovitch and Anna Karenina dine with the children and the governess. The children, for whatever reason, are no longer enamored of their aunt and are indifferent at the thought of her leaving.

Anna Karenina spends the morning preparing for her departure, writing notes to her acquaintances in Moscow, getting her accounts in order, and packing her...

(The entire section is 544 words.)

Part 1, Chapter 28 Summary

After she has said her last good-bye and is on the train, Anna Karenina is relieved that the connection to Vronsky is over and tomorrow she will be home with her son and husband. Life will continue as it always has, nice and usual.

She settles into her compartment along with other ladies and knows she is not likely to find much entertainment among the group. Instead she gets out an English novel and tries to read. Unfortunately, she is finding it difficult to concentrate. There is the fuss and movement of an entire train getting settled in, and outside the wet snow is pelting against the train window. A muffled guard walks the aisle and people are fretting about the snowstorm outside.

There is shaking and...

(The entire section is 411 words.)

Part 1, Chapter 29 Summary

As Anna Karenina stands under the carriage stand at the train station, the snow and wind whip around her in a tempest. There is much activity around her, men banging doors closed and muffled, snow-covered people bustling on the platform. Just as she withdraws her hand from her muff to reach for the door so she can re-board the train, a nearby man in a military overcoat steps into the light between her and the lamp post. As she looks toward him, Anna Karenina recognizes Vronsky’s face.

Vronsky puts his hand on the peak of his cap and asks if there is anything he can do for her. For a long time she simply stands and looks at him. Even in the shadows, she can see (or imagines she can see) the same look of “reverential...

(The entire section is 540 words.)

Part 1, Chapter 30-31 Summary

Vronsky does not even try to sleep that night on the train. Anyone who thought he was haughty and overly composed before would have seen an even greater example of his air of unhesitating control this night. He sees no one or nothing around him, seeing himself as a king not because he believes he has made an impression on her but because of the impression she has made on him, filling his heart with happiness and pride.

What will happen after this he does not know or even think about; he only knows that his energies before now have been wasted. All his energy is now focused on one blissful goal, and this makes him very happy. Vronsky told Anna Karenina the truth, that he had to follow her for she is the only source of happiness...

(The entire section is 520 words.)

Part 1, Chapter 32 Summary

The first person who meets Anna Karenina at home is her son, Seryozha. He races down the stairs and shrieks at her in his joy at seeing her again before attaching himself to her neck. When she sees her son, Anna Karenina is struck with the same disappointment she felt when she saw her husband; she imagined him better than he is in reality. Though he is a charming child, she must lower herself back to reality before she is able to enjoy him.

Anna Karenina has not had time to drink her coffee before she is visited by the Countess Lidia Ivanovna, a statuesque woman with defects Anna Karenina sees for the first time today. The visitor asks about the reconciliation but, as is typical, is not particularly interested in the...

(The entire section is 452 words.)

Part 1, Chapter 33 Summary

Alexey Alexandrovitch arrives home at four o’clock but, as usual, he does not have time to see his wife until dinner, as he must see the petitioners who have come to see him once he arrives home. He comes to dinner in his evening attire, as he will be going out after dinner. His motto is “unhasting and unresting,” and every moment of every day is filled.

There are always guests at the couple’s dinner table, and as he sits down Alexey Alexandrovitch remarks that his solitude is over and he no longer has to be uncomfortable dining alone. During the meal he talks a bit with his wife about matters in Moscow but does so with sarcasm, as usual.

After dinner, Alexey Alexandrovitch leaves but Anna Karenina...

(The entire section is 489 words.)

Part 1, Chapter 34 Summary

When Vronsky left St. Petersburg for Moscow, he left his large apartment for one of his favorite friends, Petritsky. He is a young lieutenant and he is not well connected or rich; in fact, he is nearly always in great debt. Most evenings Petritsky ends up drunk, and he has often been locked up after ridiculous and sometimes disgraceful scandals. Despite all this, he is a favorite of both his peers and his superiors.

Vronsky arrives at his rooms at noon and sees a familiar carriage outside the building. As he rings the bell, he hears voices inside and tells his servant not to announce him. He sneaks into the room and sees Petritsky and another officer sitting on either side of Baroness Shilton, resplendent in her finery,...

(The entire section is 496 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 1 Summary

At the end of winter, a conference is held by the Shtcherbatskys about what to do concerning Kitty’s failing health. Several doctors have tried common cures, but nothing has worked. Next they call in a celebrated doctor. He insists that female modesty is no longer necessary, and he must examine the patient without her clothing. Despite disagreements among themselves and some claims that he is a bad doctor, Kitty’s family decides he has some kind of special knowledge; they believe he is the only one who can save Kitty.

After the embarrassing examination, the doctor goes to the drawing room to talk to the prince—the last person with whom he should be speaking. The prince does not have faith in physicians; moreover,...

(The entire section is 547 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 2 Summary

Although Darya Alexandrovitch has recently given birth to a baby girl, she arrives at her parents’ home shortly after the doctor. She knows this is the day on which Kitty’s fate is to be decided. When she asks the doctor’s diagnosis, no one can give her much information. The only thing they all know is that Kitty is going abroad.

Her sister is going away, and Darya Alexandrovitch is sad at the thought because her life has been quite cheerless this winter. The reconciliation which Anna Karenina began has not gone well, and Darya Alexandrovitch’s relationship with her husband is falling apart again over the same issue: She continually suspects him of infidelities. Although nothing specific has been said about the...

(The entire section is 557 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 3 Summary

Kitty’s room is pink and pretty and happy—just as she had been only two months earlier. Darya Alexandrovitch is there to console her, but she does not have much hope for it when she sees Kitty sitting sullenly. Explaining that she may be quarantined soon, Darya Alexandrovitch wants to talk to her sister now about Kitty's "trouble."

Kitty denies having any trouble, but Darya Alexandrovitch assures her that "[w]e've all been through it"; Vronsky is not worth her sister's grief, she counsels. Kitty begs her not to talk about the subject. When Darya Alexandrovitch adds that she is certain Vronsky had once been in love with her sister, Kitty interrupts, shrieking that she hates sympathy most of all.


(The entire section is 538 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 4 Summary

The ruling society of St. Petersburg is one social set comprising several distinct social circles. Anna Karenina moves within three of them. She knows her husband’s government colleagues well, but their masculine, political world does not interest her. She avoids this group whenever she can.

Anna Karenina had been more interested in the social circle that helped make her husband’s career possible: older women—benevolent, ugly, godly, and elderly—and ambitious, clever, educated men. At the center is Countess Lidia Ivanovna. Alexey Alexandrovitch esteems these people most highly. Anna Karenina has also made friends in this circle; however, since her return from Moscow, it seems she and they are all quite...

(The entire section is 470 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 5 Summary

Though it is rather indiscreet of him, Vronsky settles in to tell his cousin a story about two young soldiers, in "a festive state of mind," driving to dinner with a friend. A woman in a sledge catches up to them, nods, and laughs—or at least it appears so to them. They follow her at full gallop until she arrives at the very place where they are to dine. The woman goes to the top story of the building, and the young men go to their comrade’s farewell dinner where they drink more than they should.

At dinner, the men ask who lives in the upstairs apartment; the valet tells them there are many young women about the place. The two friends go to their comrade’s study and compose a letter, a declaration of love, and...

(The entire section is 517 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 6 Summary

After the opera, Princess Betsy has just enough time to go home and refresh herself before her guests arrive at her huge, sumptuous house. Soon the guests have gathered into one of two circles, either around their hostess or at the other end of the room around an ambassador’s wife. Conversations are a bit disjointed as new guests arrive and are greeted.

As if she were holding court, Princess Myakaya sits between the two groups and contributes to both conversations. The small talk grows rather stale until the ambassador’s wife asks that anyone in the room share something amusing but not spiteful. Someone tries, but everyone knows that nothing is amusing if it is not spiteful, and everything clever is stale. Soon they...

(The entire section is 465 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 7 Summary

Anna Karenina enters the room simply and beautifully and immediately greets her hostess. As she shakes Princess Betsy’s hand, Anna Karenina finds Vronsky, who makes a low bow and pushes a chair up for her. She acknowledges the gesture with a slight nod.

Anna Karenina was delayed because she was at the countess’s house listening to a missionary to India. Soon the room begins to gossip about marriage. The consensus is that marrying for love is an old-fashioned idea, a foolish notion; most marriages today are marriages of prudence in which both parties have already “sown their wild oats.”

The group agrees that people find love only after making mistakes and correcting them, even after marriage. When...

(The entire section is 547 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 8 Summary

Though Alexey Alexandrovitch had seen nothing improper in his wife sitting with Vronsky and engaging in “eager conversation,” he knows others felt the impropriety and now he, too, feels the wrongness of it. He waits up for her so he can talk with her about it. After he has done his nightly reading and prepared himself for bed, he does not go to bed as usual but paces the floor with his hands clasped behind his back. He cannot sleep until he thinks the matter through thoroughly.

It was easy for him to decide to talk with his wife, but when he imagines the actual conversation, suddenly things seem complicated. He is not jealous because that implies a lack of confidence in his wife, and he has no experience in that...

(The entire section is 495 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 9 Summary

Anna Karenina comes up the stairs and her face is brilliant and glowing, though not out of brightness; instead it hints at a conflagration on a dark night. When she sees her husband still up, she smiles as though she has just woken up and tells him it is late and he should be in bed. Alexey Alexandrovitch tells her he must have a talk with her.

She speaks as if she is surprised and as she sits down, suggesting that he would be better off sleeping than talking. Anna Karenina is speaking without thinking and she is surprised at her own capacity for lying, at how simple and easy it is for her to mask the truth. Alexey Alexandrovitch begins his prepared lecture by telling her he must warn her about something.


(The entire section is 535 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 10 Summary

Ever since their discussion that night, things have been different between Alexey Alexandrovitch and Anna Karenina. On the surface, nothing has changed and nothing of any significance has happened. Anna Karenina is still actively attending her usual social gatherings, and she often ends up at her friend Princess Betsy’s home. Everywhere she goes, of course, she meets Vronsky.

Alexey Alexandrovitch sees all of it happening but feels he can do nothing to change it or repair it. Every effort he makes to draw his wife out, to have an open discussion of where things stand, is met with a barrier which Anna Karenina has erected and which he is unable to penetrate. This barrier is the pretense of amused perplexity, and he...

(The entire section is 405 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 11 Summary

A year after meeting, Anna Karenina and Vronsky have finally consummated their love. For him it was the culmination of everything he ever desired; for her it was an impossible, terrible, and blissful fulfillment of her desire. Now he stands before her, jaw quivering a bit, unsuccessfully trying to calm her but not really understanding what has upset her so badly.

Anna Karenina is filled with shame and bows her head as she sinks from the sofa to the floor at Vronsky’s feet. She keeps sobbing a prayer for God to forgive her. She feels so full of sin, so guilty, that she is compelled to humiliate herself and beg for forgiveness; since there is now no one in her life but Vronsky, it is to him she addresses her prayers for...

(The entire section is 542 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 12 Summary

In the first days after Levin returned to the country from Moscow, he would shudder and turn red when he thought about his humiliating rejection. Nevertheless, he always told himself it would soon be like many other embarrassing moments in his life which seemed mortifying at the time but have since diminished into minor incidents.

Three months have passed and the humiliation is just as painful now as it was at the time it happened. He has no peace because he had dreamed so long about having a family and felt so ready for it and now he is even further from that goal than he ever was. Levin and everyone around him are aware that a man of his age should not be alone, that marriage is the expectation and the norm.


(The entire section is 473 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 13 Summary

“Spring is the time of plans and projects.” Levin puts on his boots and prepares to do something, though he hardly knows what undertaking he will attempt first. In any case, the work of the farm is important and exciting to him, and he begins his day admiring the cattle which have been let into their paddock. As they bask in the sunlight, Levin turns his attention to their calves. He knows each of these creatures well and he admires their appreciation for the freedom of spring.

All is not well on the farm, however; it appears that many of the farm repairs which he ordered to be done over the winter (and for which he hired three carpenters) have not been done. Observing these things is upsetting to Levin and he calls...

(The entire section is 480 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 14 Summary

As Levin rides up to the house, he hears a visitor and hopes it is his brother, but it is Stepan Arkadyevitch. Levin is genuinely delighted to see him because he can now find out for certain about Kitty. His visitor has come to do some hunting and to sell the forest at Ergushavo. The host shows his guest to his room and soon they are sitting and visiting.

Stepan Arkadyevitch loves the house, exclaiming that it is bright and cheery but forgetting that it is not always so. It is this lovely spring day which places the house at its best advantage. He is anxious to try to understand what Levin finds so intriguing about the country, and he shares all the news from Moscow, including the fact that Levin’s half-brother Sergey...

(The entire section is 430 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 15 Summary

Stepan Arkadyevitch and Levin arrive at the stand-shooting site, and the men and Laska the dog settle in to watch and wait. As Levin looks around, he notices each wet blade of grass and feels as if he can actually see and hear the grass growing all around him. They hear the sound of a cuckoo and an owl before they finally hear the shrill whistle in the distance for which they have all been waiting.

Stepan Arkadyevitch lights a cigarette and cocks his rifle and then they hear an odd whinnying sound, a prolonged cry as if a colt were frolicking nearby. Levin says it is the sound of the hare and hurriedly readies his own gun.

The next sound they hear is well known to an experienced hunter, a shrill whistle...

(The entire section is 477 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 16 Summary

On the way back from their hunting trip, Levin hears all the particulars of Kitty’s illness from Stepan Arkadyevitch, and though he should have been ashamed to admit it, he is somewhat glad at what he hears. Kitty is still available, but she has also experienced some of the same suffering she inflicted on him. When Stepan Arkadyevitch mentions Vronsky’s name as part of the cause for Kitty’s illness, Levin stops him.

The forest Stepan Arkadyevitch came to the country to sell has been sold at a price he is quite happy with, though Levin says it is worth almost five times what is to be paid for it. Stepan Arkadyevitch is dismissive of that claim, saying Levin has been too long in the country to know effective...

(The entire section is 514 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 17 Summary

Stepan Arkadyevitch is content in every way. He has money in his pockets from the sale of the forest land, and the day’s hunting had been quite successful. He now wants to dispel Levin’s ill humor so that he can end the day as pleasantly as he began it.

Levin is not mollified, however; his mood has only grown worse as the news of Kitty’s unexpected availability has “gradually begun to work on him.” It is true that Kitty is not married; however, she is ill because the man she loved instead of him slighted her. By extension, Levin now sees Vronsky as his enemy and he feels insulted by the man. That disgruntled feeling has now seeped into his dealings with Stepan Arkadyevitch and he is exasperated at the man’s...

(The entire section is 542 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 18 Summary

Although Vronsky’s personal life is consumed with his passion, his professional life is still taken up with his military career and, particularly, his regiment. It is an important part of his life, both because he genuinely likes his regiment but also because he is a favorite of the men of his regiment.

The men in his unit not only respect him and are proud of him, but they also truly like him. They are proud to say that this man of immense wealth, extraordinary education, superior abilities, and many levels of success and ambition disregarded all of his other opportunities so he could be one of them and have the regiment’s interests be the closest thing to his heart. Vronsky is well aware of his comrades’...

(The entire section is 527 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 19 Summary

On the day of the horse races, Vronsky comes early to the regiment’s mess hall and eats carefully so he will not gain any weight. While he waits for his steak, he feigns reading a novel to avoid conversation with any of the others. He is thinking about Anna Karenina’s promise to see him after the races today. He has not seen her for three days, but her husband has just arrived home from abroad, so he is not sure she will be able to make it or how he can find out for certain.

Their last meeting had been at his cousin Betsy’s summer villa, and they have occasionally gone to the Karenins’ summer villa. Vronsky decides he will go to see Anna Karenina, claiming his cousin wants to know if she will be at the races; he...

(The entire section is 461 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 20 Summary

Vronsky shares a Finnish hut with Petritsky, and he is asleep when Vronsky and Yashvin arrive. Petritsky is lying face down on his pillow, his hair is mussed, and Yashvin prods his shoulder and hollers for him to get up. A startled Petritsky raises himself suddenly and tells Vronsky that his brother woke him up and will return later for Vronsky; then he throws a blanket over himself and tries to go back to sleep.

Yashvin persists in tormenting the man in the bed, pulling the blanket off him and speaking with his booming voice. Finally Petritsky gets up, wraps the blanket around himself, and prepares to join Yashvin for a drink. As his friends tussle back and forth, Vronsky puts on his coat and prepares to leave.


(The entire section is 429 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 21 Summary

Vronsky arrives at the stables and wants to see his horse; she arrived yesterday and he has no idea what her condition is today. The English trainer advises him not to see her, as she has been muzzled and is rather fidgety, but Vronsky insists. As he walks past the stalls, he catches a glimpse of his chief competitor, Gladiator, a huge chestnut horse with white legs. It is poor etiquette to gawk at someone else’s horse, so Vronsky quickly averts his eyes and walks to his own horse’s stall.

Frou-Frou is nervous, and the trainer says he has faith that Vronsky will win because the steeple chase takes a rider with energy and courage. Vronsky is certain there is no rider in the competition who will have more of either...

(The entire section is 554 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 22 Summary

The rain does not last long, and Vronsky forgets all about the muddy racecourse as he approaches Anna Karenina’s house. As always, he gets out of the carriage before he crosses the bridge so he will not attract undue attention. He enters the courtyard and asks the gardener if his master is home. He is not, and Vronsky enters the house through the garden.

Anna Karenina is not expecting him, and he is filled with anticipation at seeing her. As he walks through the house, he has already forgotten the difficulties of their relationship until he remembers the greatest impediment to their freedom—her son. When her son is present, the two of them tacitly agree not to talk about anything referencing their illicit...

(The entire section is 499 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 23 Summary

Anna Karenina’s husband does not know she is pregnant. Vronsky has had little success getting her to face the reality of their situation in the past, but he is hopeful this will finally cause her to see the hopelessness of her current situation and precipitate a change. Instead, she asks Vronsky what he suggests they do now. She had been concerned that he would take her news too lightly, but now she is annoyed that he has so quickly deduced that some action must be taken. Vronsky does not hesitate: Anna Karenina must tell her husband everything and then leave him.

She knows how such a conversation with her husband will go. He will remind her that she was warned (by him) of such possibilities and will refuse to allow...

(The entire section is 413 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 24 Summary

Vronsky is so distracted after his meeting with Anna Karenina that he does not check the time until he is back in his carriage. When he finally does, he wonders if he can fulfill his obligation to Bryansky and still get to the races on time. If he does not go, he will arrive in time to see most of the races; if he goes, he will barely arrive in time for his own race. Vronsky is a man of his word, so he tells his coachman to go to Bryansky’s as quickly as the horses will go.

On the ride home he begins forget about his feelings of uncertainty about Anna Karenina and to anticipate the race instead. At his lodgings, Vronsky changes into his riding clothes and then goes to the stables. His mare is already saddled, and the...

(The entire section is 535 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 25 Summary

Seventeen officers are riding in the three-mile race. The race begins two hundred yards before the track, and the first of nine obstacles is a seven-foot-wide stream. After three false starts, the race finally begins.

To the spectators, the horses appear to have all started simultaneously, but the riders are acutely aware of the fractions of seconds between them. For the first moment, Vronsky is not in control of the mare, and they are racing in third behind Gladiator and a horse named Diana, whose rider is nearly paralyzed with fear. As he and Frou-Frou are jumping the first stream, he sees a floundering Diana and her rider on the ground below them; only with great agility is his horse able to avoid trampling them....

(The entire section is 551 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 26 Summary

Nothing between the Karenins has changed, though Alexey Alexandrovitch is even busier than ever. He has not spoken one word of his suspicions or his jealousies since their initial conversation, though he speaks to her in his jeering tone and is a bit colder to her, as if he is vexed or annoyed. He acts as if he has vainly tried to extinguish a fire and now takes pleasure in watching her burn.

Though he is astute in his political dealings, Alexey Alexandrovitch is unaware of how senseless this attitude is with his wife because he has locked his heart and the things that matter to him the most (his wife and son) are sealed off from his real life. He used to be an attentive father, as well, but now he treats his son the...

(The entire section is 558 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 27 Summary

Anna Karenina is preparing for the races when she hears a carriage outside and sees that her husband has arrived. She is immediately afraid he intends to spend the night and rushes to greet him and his friend with a radiant smile, despite the deceitfulness in her heart, and asks if he is planning to spend the night. He tells her he will not interrupt her plans to attend the races with Betsy and will walk to the races.

Anna Karenina orders tea for all three of them and asks someone to tell Seryozha that his father is here. Though she speaks naturally, she is speaking too much and too fast and can see it on her visitor’s face. He goes to the terrace, and the Karenins speak privately for a few moments.


(The entire section is 464 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 28 Summary

When Alexey Alexandrovitch arrives at the race pavilion, his wife is already settled among the high society circle. Anna Karenina is acutely aware of his presence, just as she is her lover’s. As she watches Alexey Alexandrovitch, she is repulsed by everything he does, for she knows it is all false and motivated by ambition. She can see that he is looking for her but cannot distinguish her from among the women. Finally Betsy calls to him and he comes to greet them until he spots an adjutant-general and engages him in conversation.

Between races, she hears her husband in a good-natured disagreement with the man, and every word Alexey Alexandrovitch says strikes her as painfully false. When the steeple-chase begins, she...

(The entire section is 526 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 29 Summary

The crowd is horrified when Vronsky and his horse fall to the ground, and Anna Karenina moans out loud. Soon, though, she “utterly loses her head.” She is desperate to leave and insists Betsy leave with her, but Betsy does not notice her or her agitated state. Alexey Alexandrovitch offers his arm to take her away, but she does not notice him. Without answering him, Anna Karenina looks desperately through her opera-glasses but cannot see anything because a crowd has gathered around Vronsky and his horse.

An officer gallops to make an announcement to the Tsar, but she cannot hear what he says. Anna Karenina calls for her brother, but he does not hear her. Once again Alexey Alexandrovitch courteously reaches toward her...

(The entire section is 552 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 30 Summary

The Shtcherbatskys have established their place in the little German town with special healing waters. Another visitor to the waters is a German princess, and Kitty’s mother is desperate to present Kitty to her. She does so the day after they arrive, and Kitty makes a low and graceful curtsy before the princess, wearing an elegant dress from Paris. The princess says she hopes Kitty will soon have more color in her cheeks, making her face even prettier.

The family also makes the acquaintance of an English lady, a German countess and her wounded war-hero son, a Swedish intellectual, and Monsieur Canut and his sister. Most of the time, though, the Shtcherbatskys are in the company of a lady from Moscow, Marya Yevgenyevna...

(The entire section is 552 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 31 Summary

It has been raining all day and the invalids are walking inside the boardwalk. Kitty is walking with her mother and the colonel, trying to avoid Levin who is walking on the other side. Varenka is walking with a blind Frenchwoman, and each time she and Kitty pass they exchange friendly glances. Finally she asks her mother for permission to speak to Mademoiselle Varenka, and the princess agrees to find out more about her and meet her first, though she is not sure what Kitty is attracted to in the girl.

Levin is coming towards them, speaking loudly and angrily to his German doctor. The princess and Kitty turn to go back when suddenly the conversation has turned to shouting. Levin has stopped and is shouting at the doctor,...

(The entire section is 409 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 32 Summary

Princess Shtcherbatsky learns more about Mademoiselle Varenka and her connection to Madame Stahl, a woman she does not much like. Madame Stahl is an unhappy woman who has always suffered poor health. After she separated from her husband, she had a child who had died almost immediately. Her family, fearing the news would kill her, substituted another child for her baby. This child was born in the same hospital on the same night, the daughter of the chief cook in the Imperial Household. That child was Varenka.

Later Madame Stahl learned the truth but continued to raise Varenka as her own daughter, and shortly after that all of Varenka’s relations had died. For the past ten years, Madame Stahl has been living more than...

(The entire section is 552 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 33 Summary

Kitty meets Madame Stahl as well as Mademoiselle Varenka, and they not only have a great influence on her life here but her relationship with them helps ease her mental distress as she is exposed to an entirely different world. This world has nothing in common with her past and offers her a vantage point from which she can examine her life’s journey calmly.

One thing Kitty learns is that there is a spiritual life in addition to the physical life which is all she has ever known. This religious aspect of life has little to do with buildings or litanies or priests; instead it is connected to noble thoughts and feelings which are inspiring. Most of this Kitty learns through observation, for little is said explicitly by...

(The entire section is 545 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 34 Summary

Prince Shtcherbatsky has traveled while his wife and daughters stayed near the waters, and now he has returned. While his wife thinks everything about traveling abroad is delightful and she takes on the airs of a sophisticated European lady, the prince finds everything foreign to be detestable and keeps to his Russian habits and acts less European than he really is.

He is much thinner now, but he is in good spirits. When he sees that Kitty has completely recovered, his cheerfulness increases. He is concerned and somewhat jealous when his wife tells him of Kitty’s friendship with Madame Stahl and Mademoiselle Varenka and the resultant change in her, but he is in too positive a frame of mind to stay upset for long. The...

(The entire section is 551 words.)

Part 2, Chapter 35 Summary

After his walk with Kitty, the prince invites everyone in the building to join them for coffee. He remains in excessive good spirits and is lavish both with food and the gifts he purchased on his journey. His spirit is infectious, and Kitty has never seen Varenka helpless with laughter as she is at the prince’s jokes.

Kitty is glad for the good humor but struggles to be lighthearted. Her father has unintentionally caused her to question her views about her friends, and the situation with Petrov is distressing. She feels as she used to as a child when she was being punished in her room and heard her sisters laughing outside.

When Varenka prepares to leave Kitty follows her. Even her hero seems different to...

(The entire section is 547 words.)

Part 3, Chapter 1 Summary

In need of a vacation, Sergey Ivanovitch Koznishev goes to visit his half-brother in the country, for he believes the best sort of life is the country life. Levin is glad to see him, especially since his brother Nikolay will not be visiting this summer. However, despite his respect and love for Sergey Ivanovitch, having him visit in the country makes Levin nervous.

The two men see the country and its inhabitants in completely different ways. To Sergey Ivanovitch, the country is a place where he can escape the “corrupt influences” of life in the city, as well as rest from the rigors of working. It is a particularly good place for him because he can do nothing and feel no pangs of conscience for his idleness. To...

(The entire section is 500 words.)

Part 3, Chapter 2 Summary

In early June, Levin's housekeeper, Agafea Mihalovna, slips while carrying some pickled mushrooms down to the cellar and needs a doctor. While the district doctor is at Levin’s house tending to the old woman, he is thrilled to have a chance to spend time in conversation with the renowned Sergey Ivanovitch Koznishev. The particularly talkative young medical student is eager to share his advanced views with the learned man.

The physician shares all the local gossip and scandal and complains about how poorly the district council has been performing. Sergey Ivanovitch listens attentively and offers bits of sage advice to the rapt young man. The physician leaves quite content with his visit. Sergey Ivanovitch now wants to...

(The entire section is 487 words.)

Part 3, Chapter 3 Summary

Sergey Ivanovitch scolds his brother for not being more involved in managing the affairs of the district, but Levin is distracted by the sight of his bailiff in the distance. When his brother asks why he no longer participates in the district council, Levin explains he was unable to accomplish anything when he was part of the council, and he is simply tired of trying.

As Sergey Ivanovitch tries to make him feel guilty for not taking a greater interest in the welfare of the peasants he so loves (something Levin has never claimed), Levin is further distracted by his bailiff, who seems to be letting the peasants leave their plowing. His brother continues his diatribe regarding the need for medical care and schools for the...

(The entire section is 495 words.)

Part 3, Chapter 4 Summary

While his brother philosophizes, Levin thinks about his long-held plan to mow the hay alongside his peasants. It is an activity he finds both calming and satisfying, but he is hesitant to tell Sergey Ivanovitch of his plan and to leave his brother alone for the long days of work. Finally he realizes he is in such a foul temper that he must do the physical work in order to regain his equilibrium.

That evening, Levin sends word that the mowing will begin tomorrow and asks that his scythe be ready, for he intends to work, too. At tea, Levin tells his brother he will be mowing all day tomorrow with the peasants. Sergey Ivanovitch is rather surprised, asking if Levin can do such intense physical labor and if the peasants...

(The entire section is 439 words.)

Part 3, Chapter 5 Summary

In the afternoon, Levin mows between an old man and a young man. The old man makes the mowing seem as effortless as walking, and the young man smiles whenever anyone looks his way, never admitting how hard the job is for him. As he works between these two men, Levin revels in the sweat that eventually cools him and the sun that gives him the energy to continue. More often than before, he feels as if swinging the scythe is as natural and effortless to him as it is to the experienced mowers; the longer he mows, the more he experiences these unconscious moments. When he looks back, his rows are perfectly cut, and he feels positively blissful.

The most difficult task for Levin is mowing around obstacles in the field. The...

(The entire section is 491 words.)

Part 3, Chapter 6 Summary

The second field is mown. The happy workers begin walking home as Levin rides back to his manor, the sound of rough good humor, laughter, and clanking scythes still ringing in his ears. At the manor, Sergey Ivanovitch has already finished his dinner; when Levin arrives in all his enthusiasm, his brother reacts only to the filth and grime of a day spent in the fields.

Levin is in such good humor that even his brother’s grumbling about the dirt and the flies he is letting into the house cannot ruin his mood. Levin goes to wash and change, and then the two men meet in the dining room. Although Levin is not hungry, he sits down to eat because he does not want to offend his cook. He finds the food especially delicious and...

(The entire section is 514 words.)

Part 3, Chapter 7 Summary

Stepan Arkadyevitch has gone back to St. Petersburg to do what everyone in government service must do—remind the ministry that he exists. Having taken all the family’s available cash with him, he is now spending his days in the city quite enjoyably, being seen at the races and visiting summer villas. In the meantime, his wife and children are spending the summer in the country.

Ergushavo is Darya Alexandrovna’s family lodge, given as her dowry when she married. In her childhood, it had seemed a roomy and comfortable place, but that was twenty years ago; now it is rather old and dilapidated. When he was in the country to sell their forest land, Stepan Arkadyevitch was to have ordered any needed improvements before...

(The entire section is 548 words.)

Part 3, Chapter 8 Summary

Not until the end of May, after Darya Alexandrovna has gotten fairly settled at the lodge, does she receive a letter of apology from her husband for not making better preparations before she and the children arrived. He promises in his letter to come to her as soon as possible, but she should not expect him soon.

On the Sunday of St. Peter’s week, Darya Alexandrovna prepares her children for church so that they can take the sacrament. While she holds rather unorthodox views of religion, she believes in communion for her children; the fact that they have not received the sacrament in over a year troubles her. For several days, Darya Alexandrovna busily chooses her children’s clothing. Though several crises occur in...

(The entire section is 477 words.)

Part 3, Chapter 9 Summary

As they arrive home after bathing in the river, Darya Alexandrovna is delighted to see Levin waiting for them—and he is delighted to see her at this happy moment of contentment with her life. When he looks at her, Levin sees the epitome of a satisfying family life.

As they greet one another warmly, Levin gently scolds her for not letting him know she was in the country. Darya Alexandrovna is surprised that her husband cared enough to send Levin a letter asking him to come to see her. Levin begins to explain his offer to help her in any way but then stops, embarrassed, thinking she may be annoyed at an offer of help from him when it is her husband who should be helping her.

Levin is right. Darya...

(The entire section is 517 words.)

Part 3, Chapter 10 Summary

Darya Alexandrovna tells Levin that Kitty is especially looking forward to the quiet and solitude of the country, though she is now well again. Looking directly at Levin, she asks him why he is angry at her sister and why he did not visit either her or Kitty when he was last in Moscow. Levin is adamant that he is not angry with Kitty and wonders, blushing, why she says such things and does not take more pity on him. It soon becomes clear to him that Darya Alexandrovna does not know that he made Kitty an offer of marriage and was refused. Saying it out loud causes all his anger at being slighted to surface and any concern for Kitty's health to dissipate.

Darya Alexandrovna now understands her sister’s heartache and...

(The entire section is 512 words.)

Part 3, Chapter 11 Summary

It is the middle of July, and Levin is paid a visit by the elder of the village nearest his sister’s estate, fifteen miles away from Pokrovskoe, Levin's own estate. He has come to give a report on how things are going at the sister's estate, particularly the progress of the hay mowing. The primary source of income from Levin’s sister’s estate is haying the meadows. Years before, the peasants bought the hay on three acres of land for a mere twenty roubles. When Levin began managing the estate, he determined this price to be too low and increased the price to twenty-five roubles.

The peasants refused to pay and kept other buyers from purchasing the hay, so Levin made other arrangements to have the hay cut. Again,...

(The entire section is 451 words.)

Part 3, Chapter 12 Summary

When the last load of hay is finally loaded by Ivan Parmenov and his lovely wife, the couple walks the cart to the barn. Around them other men and women work merrily, and the sound of so many women in a “thunder of merriment” soon envelops Levin. He envies their health and happiness and longs to take part in their joy of living. Instead, he is helpless to do anything but watch and listen. When all the peasants finally leave for a time, Levin is left feeling an abject alienation.

Some of those merry peasants had been involved in the arguing and wrangling over the hay, but they are evidently incapable of bearing any grudge and move forward in a sea of “merry common labor.” Levin has often admired their lives;...

(The entire section is 513 words.)

Part 3, Chapter 13 Summary

Alexey Alexandrovitch is a cold and reasonable man; however, the sight of a woman or a child in tears throws him into a state of nervous agitation. On their way home from the races, his wife told him about her love for Vronsky and immediately dissolved into tears. His rigid expression and reaction reflected his desire to avoid the tears, and he simply let Anna Karenina out of the carriage, telling her he would let her know his decision tomorrow.

Alexey Alexandrovitch’s worst suspicions had been confirmed, and the pang of heartache was tempered by pity for his wife’s tears. After he leaves her, though, he is relieved. It is as if he has long been suffering from a toothache but all at once—admittedly with some...

(The entire section is 556 words.)

Part 3, Chapter 14 Summary

As he rides to St. Petersburg, Alexey Alexandrovitch composes in his mind the letter he will write his wife regarding his decision to maintain their relationship as if nothing has changed. In his study, he writes the letter in French, using the impersonal pronoun vous to avoid the question of how to address her. He writes that their life must go on as it has in the past for the good of the entire family. He says he is convinced that she has repented and will now forget about any events that happened in the past. He threatens her with dire consequences for her son if she does not comply. He expects her to return to St. Petersburg no later than Tuesday.

As Alexey Alexandrovitch rereads his letter, he is pleased...

(The entire section is 585 words.)

Part 3, Chapter 15 Summary

Anna Karenina knows her position is false and dishonorable, and she longs with her entire soul to change it. On the way home from the races, she had revealed to her husband the truth about her love for Vronsky; it had burst from her in a moment of excitement, and despite her current agony, she is relieved to have told him. The lying and deception is over; although her new situation could be bad, at least it would be honest. She sees Vronsky that night but does not tell him about her conversation with Alexey Alexandrovitch.

This morning her position again seems hopeless, and she wonders why she did not immediately tell Vronsky about the conversation with her husband. It is because she is ashamed. Now she visualizes the...

(The entire section is 531 words.)

Part 3, Chapter 16 Summary

At the summer villa, Anna Karenina is preparing to pack and leave for Moscow when she notices her husband’s courier has arrived with a delivery; opening the thick packet from Alexey Alexandrovitch, she finds a pile of money and a letter saying he expects her to join him at their home in St. Petersburg as soon as possible. This morning she had wished she had never spoken with her husband about her love for Vronsky, imagining things would have been better if she had remained silent. Now, Alexey Alexandrovitch is treating the matter as if it had never been discussed—exactly what she had thought she wanted just a few hours before. Her situation seems more awful than she had ever imagined.

Everyone sees Alexey...

(The entire section is 501 words.)

Part 3, Chapter 17 Summary

Only a few people have been invited to Princess Betsy Tverskaya’s croquet party; two of the women are part of a social circle which is “utterly hostile” to the circle in which Anna Karenina moves, and one of the men is Alexey Alexandrovitch’s political enemy. Knowing this, Anna Karenina had refused the invitation. Now she is here, arriving earlier than the other guests, hoping to see Vronsky.

While she does not see Vronsky, she does see his footman arriving with a note for Princess Betsy. Anna Karenina longs to ask the messenger where his master is, to send a letter to Vronsky with the footman, or to go herself to see him, but none of these options are available to her, and she is taken to the garden.


(The entire section is 554 words.)

Part 3, Chapter 18 Summary

When Princess Betsy’s guests arrive, her conversation with Anna Karenina is interrupted. Sappho Shtoltz is a “blond beauty with black eyes,” followed everywhere by Vaska, her ardent admirer. Sappho Shtoltz’s hairdo is a "superstructure of soft, golden hair—her own and false mixed," and her bust is overexposed. She is so bustled and corseted that it is difficult to tell where the petite woman’s actual body might be under all the flowing material. Princess Betsy quickly introduces her to Anna Karenina.

Sappho Shtoltz and Vaska are teasing one another when the woman suddenly remembers that she invited another of her admirers to the croquet party and introduces him to her hostess. This man, too, follows Sappho...

(The entire section is 507 words.)

Part 3, Chapter 19 Summary

Though Vronsky appears to live a rather frivolous life, he likes routine in regard to his financial affairs. In his early days in the Corps of Pages, he once had tried to borrow some money and was humiliated by a refusal; since then he has never put himself in the position of having to ask. To make sure his business is taken care of, he takes several days a year to put all his affairs in proper order. The day after the races is one of those days. He sets out all of his bills and other correspondence, and Petritsky makes a hasty exit when he sees what day this is.

Vronsky, like most men, prides himself on having a unique set of complexities regarding his financial affairs and on not doing anything dishonorable—as he...

(The entire section is 486 words.)

Part 3, Chapter 20 Summary

Vronsky lives his life within a certain code of principles to which he adheres religiously. While this code only covers a very small set of circumstances, the principles are clear. Because Vronsky never strays from that set of circumstances, he has never hesitated about doing what he ought to do based on his personal code.

The invariable rules of the code begin with these: he needs to pay a card debt but he does not need to pay a tailor, he must never tell a man a lie but may lie to any woman, he may not cheat anyone but he may cheat a husband, and he must never pardon an insult though he is allowed to give one. Though these rules are neither reasonable nor good, they are invariably certain and as long as he adheres to...

(The entire section is 533 words.)

Part 3, Chapter 21 Summary

Petritsky comes to get Vronsky for a party at the colonel’s, celebrating Serpuhovskoy’s arrival. He is a classmate who is now a general and expecting his own command. Vronsky tells himself that he is happy at having to sacrifice his ambition for love. Vronsky is genuinely glad for his friend’s success and is delighted to see him.

The singers and the band have begun the festivities, and there is plenty of dancing and drinking among the soldiers in attendance. Serpuhovskoy looks just the same to Vronsky except for a distinct air of contentment in success which Vronsky knows well. The two friends greet one another warmly but then get separated as the party progresses. Later they have a quiet moment to talk,...

(The entire section is 539 words.)

Part 3, Chapter 22 Summary

Vronsky is eager to see Anna Karenina, and on the way he considers why he is so content with his life. His business affairs have been sorted out, Serpuhovskoy considers him the kind of man the world needs, and he is now unexpectedly going to see the woman he loves. This “joyous sense of life” is so strong in him that he cannot help smiling, knowing he loves Anna Karenina more every time he is with her. When he finally arrives at Princess Betsy’s, he sees her waiting for him and just the sight of her causes a kind of “electric shock” to run all over his body. When he gets closer, though, he sees the serious set of her mouth and realizes this will not be the joyous meeting he had anticipated.

Vronsky has no will...

(The entire section is 540 words.)

Part 3, Chapter 23 Summary

On Monday, Alexey Alexandrovitch speaks at the meeting of the Commission of the 2nd of June. After his preparations of the night before, he feels no need to review his outline or rehearse his arguments; he knows that once he stands in front of his opponents the words will flow like molten lava. When others look at him, they see no evidence of this hidden fire and are therefore unprepared for it when it comes.

Alexey Alexandrovitch gets what he wants: three more commissions are formed. His triumph in the stormy meeting is even greater than he had anticipated. The next day, in at least his social circle, nothing else is discussed except for this rather spectacular meeting.

On Tuesday, Alexey Alexandrovitch...

(The entire section is 532 words.)

Part 3, Chapter 24 Summary

Levin is revolted by how he has been managing his land and has lost all attraction to it. Despite the magnificent harvest, he does not remember ever having so many hindrances and disagreements; a night spent under the stars has enlightened him as to the cause of his problems. Watching the peasants’ delight and joy has made Levin envious, and he now understands that the way he has been farming will never be anything but a “stubborn struggle” between him and his laborers in which he will always be the only victor. The result is that neither side is content, and the peasants would only enjoy their work if it were done for themselves.

The landowner must fight for every cent of his profit so he can pay the laborers,...

(The entire section is 541 words.)

Part 3, Chapter 25 Summary

Levin drives to his friend Nikolay Ivanovitch Sviazhsky’s estate in his carriage, as it is remote and inaccessible by any other means. Halfway through his journey, he stops to water his horses at the home of a well-to-do peasant. After he directs the coachman where to care for the horses, the old peasant invites Levin into his parlor. A young, cleanly dressed woman, barefoot and in clogs, is washing the floor. She shrieks in fear at the dog that appears behind Levin but then laughs at her reaction after she is told the dog is harmless. She points Levin to the parlor and resumes her scrubbing.

The room is well appointed and so neat that Levin is afraid his dog will muddy the floor. Levin orders her into a spot in a...

(The entire section is 483 words.)

Part 3, Chapter 26 Summary

Levin’s friend Sviazhsky is a happily married man five years his senior, and his young sister-in-law lives with him and his wife. Though no one has ever spoken of it, Levin knows (with a sense “so-called eligible young men” all have) his friend and his wife would love for him to marry the girl. While he knows the girl is quite attractive and would make him a good wife, Levin could never marry her even if he had not been in love with Kitty Shtcherbatsky.

After receiving the invitation from his friend, Levin had immediately thought of this and thought it might taint his visit, but he determines to go and he even sees it as an opportunity to test his heart. Sviazhsky is both interesting and involved in local affairs...

(The entire section is 546 words.)

Part 3, Chapter 27 Summary

The farmer sitting across from Sviazhsky is not a rich man, but he is full of complaints. He is tired of farming but will never give it up; he is disgusted at the poor behavior and performance of the local peasants he hires, and he believes the local justice system is full of cheats and thieves. Sviazhsky is amused and tells the man that he, Levin, and other gentlemen are able to manage their lands quite nicely.

Levin listens to the second man’s argument that the Russian emancipation of peasants is what has ruined farming productivity. Under the serf system and with good management, the land yields nine to one; when crops are divided between farmer and serf, productivity drops and yields only three to one. Sviazhsky...

(The entire section is 545 words.)

Part 3, Chapter 28 Summary

Levin is stirred by the idea that he is not alone in his dissatisfaction with the current system of managing the land. He determines that the problem can be solved and he must try to solve it. After promising his hostess to stay for another day, Levin goes to Sviazhsky’s study to gather some books on the labor question which his host offered him. As Levin is standing and reading one of the articles, Sviazhsky begins to talk to him about one of the points in the article. As Sviazhsky talks, however, Levin wonders why his friend is so interested in this particular issue and asks him a follow-up question. Sviazhsky has nothing more to offer; it is simply an interesting point to him and he has no interest at all in the why....

(The entire section is 521 words.)

Part 3, Chapter 29 Summary

Carrying out Levin’s plan to revolutionize his system of farming is difficult, but he continues struggling until he achieves a result which is not astounding but is enough for him to believe it is worth the trouble. One of the major difficulties is that he does not have the luxury of stopping everything and restarting the entire process. He will have to “mend the machine” while it is in motion.

On the evening he arrives home, Levin informs his bailiff of his plan and is met with great and visible agreement that the current system is broken and must be fixed. When Levin outlines his plan for laborers to become shareholders, however, the bailiff looks despondent and offers no definite opinion before changing the...

(The entire section is 483 words.)

Part 3, Chapter 30 Summary

By the end of September, all the profits for the shared work have been paid to the peasants. Levin, at least, considers the venture to be a success. Now, to finish his book and, he hopes, revolutionize his country’s political economy, Levin must travel abroad for more research. His dream is to create a new science of agriculture—a new way of looking at the relationship between people and the land. All he is waiting on is the delivery of his wheat crop.

Unfortunately, the rains begin and everything on the farm is mired in mud; all work must be stopped. Even his wheat cannot be delivered. On the last day of September, the sun is shining and Levin determines to leave. After giving a few last directions for the care of...

(The entire section is 486 words.)

Part 3, Chapter 31 Summary

Levin runs down the staircase to greet his unknown visitor until he hears a familiar racking cough in the hallway. He hopes he is wrong, that it is not his brother Nikolay, but it is he. Although Levin loves his brother, being around him consistently is “torture.” Just now, in his rather depressed state of mind, he is dismayed at the thought of such a difficult visitor. Nikolay knows him well and will bully his younger brother into sharing his current thoughts, which Levin does not feel disposed to do.

Levin feels angry with himself as greets his brother affectionately, and immediately his disappointment turns to pity. Nikolay had not been well the last time Levin saw him; now he looks emaciated with sickness. As...

(The entire section is 554 words.)

Part 3, Chapter 32 Summary

Nikolay’s gentleness does not last long. The next morning he begins to show his irritability and find fault with his brother. Levin blames himself and does not know how to make things right between them. He feels as if they each need to speak honestly about what they are feeling and thinking—then Levin could acknowledge that his brother is dying and Nikolay could say he is afraid. Nothing more would have to be said for them to know what is in one another’s hearts. But that is not possible, so things continue miserably for both of them; the falseness of one is detected by the other until both are exasperated.

On the third day of his visit, Nikolay induces Levin to tell him again of his plan for agricultural...

(The entire section is 523 words.)

Part 4, Chapter 1 Summary

Alexey Alexandrovitch and his wife continue to live in the same house, but they are complete strangers to one another. He makes a point of seeing his wife once each day to keep up the pretense in front of the servants, but he never dines at home. Vronsky never appears at the house, but Anna Karenina sees him elsewhere and Alexey Alexandrovitch knows it. All three of them are miserable.

The only way they all tolerate their miserable circumstances for even one day is their expectation that theirs is a temporary ordeal that must be endured until things change—and they will. Alexey Alexandrovitch believes his wife’s passion for Vronsky will pass, his name will remain unsullied, and everyone will forget about the...

(The entire section is 478 words.)

Part 4, Chapter 2 Summary

After leaving the prince at the rail station and returning home, Vronsky finds a note from Anna Karenina. She writes that she is ill, unhappy, and unable to leave her house; she asks him to come see her tonight between seven o'clock and ten o'clock, while Alexey Alexandrovitch is at his council meeting. For a moment, Vronsky hesitates because her husband has strictly forbidden her to have Vronsky in his home, but he decides to go.

Vronsky has gotten his promotion to colonel, left the regimental quarters, and gotten a home by himself. That afternoon, he takes a nap and immediately he dreams; many of the disgusting scenes from the past week are melding with images of Anna Karenina in a nightmarish confusion. At the end,...

(The entire section is 552 words.)

Part 4, Chapter 3 Summary

Vronsky is ashamed to tell Anna Karenina he was late because he overslept, so he tells her he had to make a report about the prince’s departure and is glad the ordeal with the visiting royal is now finished. Anna Karenina picks up her crochet work and studiously avoids looking at Vronsky as she tells him she heard from one of her friends about the evenings of debauchery he spent with the prince. When he protests that he was equally sickened by the activities he was forced to arrange (in part because he was reminded of his former self), Anna Karenina begins a jealous tirade. She tells him that he and all men are disgusting and that she has no way of knowing anything except what he tells her and cannot know whether he is telling...

(The entire section is 549 words.)

Part 4, Chapter 4 Summary

After Alexey Alexandrovitch met Vronsky on his doorstep, he attends the opera as planned. He stays for two acts, sees and is seen by everyone who matters to him, and returns home. He does not see Vronsky’s military overcoat on his coatrack, and so goes to his room as usual. Tonight, though, he cannot sleep, pacing the room until three o’clock.

He is furious with his wife, who has not kept the proprieties and has violated the one stipulation he gave her: not to bring her lover into his house. Because she did not comply, he must punish her by obtaining a divorce and taking away her son. It is an act fraught with difficulties, but he said he would do it and now he must follow through on his threat. He has been...

(The entire section is 546 words.)

Part 4, Chapter 5 Summary

The waiting room of a famous St. Petersburg lawyer is full when Alexey Alexandrovitch arrives, and a harrowed clerk tells him he must wait his turn to see the busy lawyer. Alexey Alexandrovitch realizes it will be impossible to maintain his anonymity, so he gives the clerk his card and asks him to deliver it. The clerk is not impressed by what he reads but delivers the card.

The lawyer soon appears, a squat little man dressed as if for a wedding. His face is clever but his clothes are "dandified" and in bad taste. He invites Alexey Alexandrovitch into his office, and Alexey Alexandrovitch insists on strict privacy. The lawyer smiles and says that is the nature of his job, and it is obvious to Alexey Alexandrovitch that...

(The entire section is 547 words.)

Part 4, Chapter 6 Summary

Alexey Alexandrovitch won a brilliant victory at the last Commission of the 17th of August, but a subsequent event is devastating to him. The new investigation into the condition of the native tribes was quite thorough, covering political, administrative, economic, ethnographic, material, and religious aspects. The data were gathered officially, and the recommendation was in alignment with Alexey Alexandrovitch’s contention; however, Stremov (the man who lost this battle to Alexey Alexandrovitch) has resorted to devious and unexpected tactics.

Stremov and several other members of the committee suddenly transfer their allegiance to Alexey Alexandrovitch’s position, but now Stremov proposes even more extreme measures...

(The entire section is 527 words.)

Part 4, Chapter 7 Summary

It is Sunday, and Stepan Arkadyevitch attends a ballet rehearsal at the Grand Theater; afterward, he gives one of the dancers the coral necklace he had promised her the night before. He kisses her and promises to come for the last act of tonight’s ballet performance and to take her to dinner afterward. By noon, he is at the hotel where he has to see three people: Levin, who has recently returned from his travels abroad; the recently appointed head of his department; and Alexey Alexandrovitch, whom he must ensure comes home with him to dinner.

Stepan Arkadyevitch enjoys dining out, but he enjoys hosting a dinner even more. Tonight he and his wife will host several people, including Levin and Kitty Shtcherbatsky as well...

(The entire section is 503 words.)

Part 4, Chapter 8 Summary

After church, Alexey Alexandrovitch spends his entire morning indoors. He has two items of business to accomplish. The first is to receive and send on to St. Petersburg a delegation from the native tribes. Though he had summoned the group, Alexey Alexandrovitch is glad he caught the delegates here because they have absolutely no idea what is expected of them.

He is horrified to discover that they naively intended to appear before the commission and outline their actual needs, report on their true condition, and ask the government for assistance. They are totally unaware that doing so would support his enemies’ contentions, so Alexey Alexandrovitch spends a long time with them and draws up an agenda to which they are...

(The entire section is 534 words.)

Part 4, Chapter 9 Summary

Stepan Arkadyevitch gets home late, and several guests have already arrived. Two of Moscow’s intellectuals are there, men who are respected for their character and intelligence but who do not agree on any opinion. One of them is Levin’s brother, Sergey Ivanovitch. Also in attendance are Prince Shtcherbatsky, a young Shtcherbatsky cousin, Turovtsin (a family friend), Kitty, and Alexey Alexandrovitch. It is clear to Stepan Arkadyevitch that his wife is too worried about the children to be an effective hostess, and all of his guests are uncomfortable.

In moments he has made introductions, started conversations, and offered compliments to his guests, and the entire tone of the gathering has changed to one of liveliness...

(The entire section is 559 words.)

Part 4, Chapter 10 Summary

The members of the dinner party continue to discuss the best method of influencing people toward higher development. One argues for more classical studies, such as languages and culture, while another favors the natural sciences, such as astrology, botany, and zoology. Alexey Alexandrovitch finds himself favoring the classical studies, though he sees merit in the scientific studies. Studying the classical authors is apt to promote a higher morality, though, while the study of natural sciences is associated with many of the “false and noxious” current doctrines.

Levin’s brother, Sergey Ivanovitch, finishes the argument by claiming that it is classical studies, which are distinctly antinihilistic, that have shaped...

(The entire section is 470 words.)

Part 4, Chapter 11 Summary

Everyone in the room is involved in the philosophical discussions except for Levin and Kitty Shtcherbatsky. Levin should have been interested in the discussion of how people can best be influenced, as this is the very thing about which he has been thinking, studying, and writing. Instead, this topic that had once seemed so important no longer holds the slightest interest for him.

Kitty should have been intensely interested in a conversation about the rights and education of women. It is a subject she has often thought about, especially as she considers the painful dependence of her friend Varenka, whom she met while abroad. She has also wondered about her own fate if she were to remain unmarried, and she has had...

(The entire section is 446 words.)

Part 4, Chapter 12 Summary

The discussion about the rights of women includes the inequality of their rights in marriage, but Stepan Arkadyevitch changes the subject while the women are present. When the ladies leave, Pestsov claims that the primary inequality between men and women in marriage is that the infidelity of women is punished differently than the infidelity of men, both by law and by public opinion. Stepan Arkadyevitch hurriedly interrupts him; however, Alexey Alexandrovitch remains calm, determined to show that he is unafraid of the subject.

Turovtsin, warmed by the wine he has drunk, joins the conversation and tells the men of the duel which had been fought earlier that day. Stepan Arkadyevitch is dismayed, fearing the conversation...

(The entire section is 541 words.)

Part 4, Chapter 13 Summary

When the women left the dining room, Levin would have liked to have followed Kitty, but he was afraid she would have disliked such obvious attention from him. Instead he sits with the men but watches Kitty’s every movement in the drawing room. Levin keeps the promise he made her to think well of all men. The men’s conversation turns to the idea of a village commune, and the two scholars disagree, of course.

Thinking neither man is right, Levin tries to soften and reconcile their differences. None of the discussion matters to him; he wants only peace between them. All that is important to Levin is in the next room. Heading to the drawing room, he comes to a standstill as he sees Kitty in the doorway with her cousin,...

(The entire section is 536 words.)

Part 4, Chapter 14 Summary

After Kitty leaves, Levin feels uneasy. He will see her again in just fourteen short hours, when he will pledge his life to her forever, but his emotions are so strong that he is afraid he might die before then. To pass the time, Levin needs company and Stepan Arkadyevitch is the one he would choose as the most congenial; however, his host has said he is leaving for a soiree, though he is actually going to meet his lover at the ballet.

Levin has time only to tell Stepan Arkadyevitch that he loves him and will never forget what he did to bring Kitty back to him. His host teases him about not wanting to die anymore, and Darya Alexandrovna says she is glad he has reconnected with Kitty. This annoys Levin, for she clearly...

(The entire section is 533 words.)

Part 4, Chapter 15 Summary

The streets are empty as Levin arrives at the Shtcherbatsky residence; it is clear everyone is still asleep. He walks back to his hotel and orders coffee in his room. He tries to drink the coffee and eat the roll he was served, but it is as if his mouth does not quite know what to do anymore. He goes back outside for a walk and reaches the Shtcherbatskys’ for the second time at nine o’clock. The family is just rising, so Levin has to endure another two hours, at least.

That entire night and morning, Levin has felt himself living perfectly unconsciously, far above the conditions of normal material life. He has not eaten or slept for two days, and he had spent the night nearly undressed in the freezing night air, yet...

(The entire section is 462 words.)

Part 4, Chapter 16 Summary

When Princess Shtcherbatsky asks Levin when the wedding will be, he tells her he would like to have the benediction and announcement today and the wedding tomorrow, but Kitty’s mother says that is quite mad. There is the trousseau to think about, among other preparations, and Levin admits he knows nothing about such things and only spoke what he would like to have happen. Before they leave the room, Kitty’s parents display affection as if it were they who shared a newly discovered love.

When they are alone, Levin and Kitty can finally say some things they have wanted to say; however, Levin tells her only that he always felt as if their being together was ordained. He does not tell her the two things he most wants...

(The entire section is 495 words.)

Part 4, Chapter 17 Summary

Alexey Alexandrovitch returns to his room alone, reflecting on Darya Alexandrovna’s words about forgiveness, words that annoy him since he has already decided this Christian precept is not applicable to his situation. What he most remembers from this evening is Turovtsin’s comment that men must defend their honor by dueling. Everyone in the room tacitly agreed with that sentiment, though they did not speak the words. Alexey Alexandrovitch’s matter has been settled another way, so he tells himself it is useless to think about such things.

He receives two telegrams. The first is an announcement of Stremov’s appointment to a position Alexey Alexandrovitch coveted. He is annoyed that he was passed over for the...

(The entire section is 558 words.)

Part 4, Chapter 18 Summary

Alexey Alexandrovitch has said he forgives his wife unconditionally, will never abandon her, and will never speak a word of reproach to Vronsky, and this causes a turmoil of emotions in Vronsky. He feels disgraced, humiliated, guilty, and deprived of all possibility of washing away his humiliation. He feels as if all the rules he has lived by have suddenly become false and inapplicable. Alexey Alexandrovitch had been a weak and rather ludicrous figure, but he has now been elevated to “an awe-inspiring pinnacle” of honesty, grandness, and forgiveness. Even worse, Vronsky feels as if their positions have been reversed, and he is now the base character in this drama.

Vronsky is also miserable because his feelings for...

(The entire section is 547 words.)

Part 4, Chapter 19 Summary

Alexey Alexandrovitch had not expected to find his wife genuinely repentant, to forgive her—and to see her live through her illness. Two months afterward, he realizes his mistake in not being prepared for such contingencies, but until that moment at Anna Karenina’s bedside, he had not known his own heart. In forgiving her and Vronsky, Alexey Alexandrovitch was relieved of the burden of his own guilt, shame, weakness, and suffering, and he experienced a spiritual peace he had never before known. The very source of his suffering, hate, and judgment had become the source of his simple spiritual joy.

After hearing of Vronsky’s attempted suicide, Alexey Alexandrovitch pities the man even more. Alexey Alexandrovitch has...

(The entire section is 556 words.)

Part 4, Chapter 20 Summary

After he sees Princess Betsy out, Alexey Alexandrovitch goes back to his wife. Anna Karenina looks frightened and has been crying. He gently tells her he appreciates her confidence in him and sits down beside her bed. He speaks in Russian, using the Russian “thou” used to denote intimacy and affection, which is insufferably irritating to Anna Karenina. Alexey Alexandrovitch says he is grateful for her decision and agrees with her that since Vronsky is going away, there is no need for him to come and say good-bye.

Unable to suppress her irritation, Anna Karenina interrupts her husband and asks why, since she has already said so, he feels he must repeat it. She thinks to herself that a man so consumed with love that...

(The entire section is 552 words.)

Part 4, Chapter 21 Summary

As Princess Betsy is leaving the Karenins’ home, she is met by Stepan Arkadyevitch, who is delighted to see her. He hints to her that he is here from St. Petersburg to help his sister somehow, and Princess Betsy is thrilled. They huddle in a corner of the drawing room, and she whispers that Alexey Alexandrovitch is “killing” Anna Karenina with this impossible situation, which is being talked about by everyone in town.

It is clear Alexey Alexandrovitch does not know his wife and does not understand that she is pining for Vronsky because she is not the kind of woman who can love casually. Princess Betsy says one of two things must happen: Alexey Alexandrovitch must act decisively and either let Anna Karenina go with...

(The entire section is 541 words.)

Part 4, Chapter 22 Summary

Stepan Arkadyevitch walks solemnly into Alexey Alexandrovitch’s room and finds him pacing, deep in thought about the direness of his current situation. With unaccustomed embarrassment and timidity, Stepan Arkadyevitch asks to talk to him about his sister and their current situation. With a mournful smile, Alexey Alexandrovitch picks up an unfinished letter and hands it to his brother-in-law.

He was writing a letter to express his thoughts, because he knows his presence irritates his wife. Stepan Arkadyevitch reads that Alexey Alexandrovitch is dismayed by his wife’s misery, is honest in his forgiveness of her, and is now resolved to forget the past and begin a new life with her. While he has no regret about these...

(The entire section is 550 words.)

Part 4, Chapter 23 Summary

Though Vronsky’s shot did not hit his heart, he was badly wounded and vacillated between life and death for several days after the incident. When he finally opens his eyes with lucidity, Vronsky sees his sister-in-law Varya and tells her the shooting was an accident and she must never speak of it; and she is to tell everyone else the same thing on his behalf or else it is “too ridiculous.” Varya assures him that no one is suggesting otherwise, but she looks at him questioningly and hopes he will not accidentally shoot himself again. He assures her he would not do such a thing, though he says it would have been better if his aim had been true.

Vronsky is better after the shooting in one sense: his action has erased...

(The entire section is 533 words.)

Part 5, Chapter 1 Summary

The wedding will take place before Lent. Though only half of Kitty’s trousseau will be finished, she has an aunt who is near death, and if the wedding does not happen soon, it will have to be further postponed by a period of family mourning. Kitty is content, knowing she will not need fancy clothing to live in the country; Levin is happy to leave all the planning to others and is guided by his brother, Stepan Arkadyevitch, and the princess. He agrees to everything they suggest, content in his state of bliss.

Kitty does not want to go abroad after the wedding, knowing how important the country is to Levin and eager to begin her new life in her new home; though Levin finds her insistence on this a bit surprising, he...

(The entire section is 548 words.)

Part 5, Chapter 2 Summary

On the wedding day, Levin follows tradition and does not see his bride until the ceremony. Instead, he dines with three friends: Sergey Ivanovitch, his half-brother; Katavasov, an old university friend and current professor of natural science; and Tchirikov, his best man and hunting companion. They are an animated and original bunch.

They conduct a lively conversation regarding the benefits and drawbacks of marriage, and the general consensus of all but Levin is that being married is likely to keep a man from everything he loves, such as hunting, and take all the joy from pursuits such as farming. Levin does not want to disillusion his bachelor friends by telling them that there are wonderful things in marriage, as...

(The entire section is 537 words.)

Part 5, Chapter 3 Summary

A throng primarily of women is gathered around the church, waiting for the wedding. Those who cannot fit into the building crowd and push to peek through the gratings. More than twenty carriages have arrived and more are driving up to deliver men and women in fine dress. The church is warm with color and flowers, velvets and satins, frock coats and long gloves. Quiet but lively conversations come to an abrupt halt every time the door creaks open, and everyone looks around expecting the bride and groom.

Soon the crowd realizes the ceremony is late; people watch the door apprehensively, trying to appear as if they are not worried. The head deacon coughs discreetly, as if to remind everyone his time is valuable, and the...

(The entire section is 408 words.)

Part 5, Chapter 4 Summary

The crowd is thrilled Levin has arrived, and when Stepan Arkadyevitch relates what caused the delay, there are smiles and whispers. Levin is aware only of his beautiful bride. Everyone says Kitty has lost some beauty over the past year, but Levin looks only at her eyes and sweet expression and feels she is more beautiful than ever.

Kitty smiles and says she thought he might have run away. Levin is so embarrassed he cannot speak about the missing shirt. Stepan Arkadyevitch interrupts to ask a foolish question, and Kitty’s sisters fuss with her attire. Neither Kitty nor Levin give them much attention.

After the priest and deacon put on their vestments again, the priest gives Levin simple instructions about...

(The entire section is 420 words.)

Part 5, Chapter 5 Summary

The elite of Moscow have gathered for the wedding of Levin and Kitty Shtcherbatsky. Around the room, hushed conversations of all kinds are being carried on by the guests. One wonders why the couple chose an evening wedding, something only “shop-people” usually do; another wonders why the bride’s oldest sister is wearing lilac, which is as bad as black at a wedding. One man remarks that it is believed that if a man acts as best man ten times, he is destined to remain unmarried; this same man also regrets he is not best man at this wedding, making it his tenth time to do so. The woman next to him only smiles at him, thinking about marrying him in the spring and reminding of him of the joke he just made. One thinks Kitty should...

(The entire section is 401 words.)

Part 5, Chapter 6 Summary

After the ceremony of plighting troth is over, a pink satin cloth is placed on the ground as the choir sings a complicated song. The couple walks to the altar to meet the priest, and there is much speculation in the room about who stepped on the pink carpet first; the tradition is that the one who steps on the carpet first will be head of the household. The couple pays no attention to the crowd or the carpet as they move to the altar. (Some say he stepped on the carpet first; others say they stepped on it at the same time.)

There the priest asks the customary questions about whether they are free to marry, and their answers sound strange even to themselves. Kitty tries to listen to the prayers but is too swept away by a...

(The entire section is 406 words.)

Part 5, Chapter 7 Summary

Vronsky and Anna Karenina have been traveling together for three months in Europe, and they have arrived in a small Italian town where they will stay. The rather contemptuous and condescending Italian waiter turns deferential when he sees the Russian count who has taken the hotel’s best rooms. Vronsky has changed. His hair is longer and combed over the bald patch on his head, and he is longing to find some relief from the boredom of his monotonous life.

Across the room, a gentleman waits for him; after a moment, Vronsky recognizes his old classmate Golenishtchev. The men have met only once since their days together in the Corps of Pages, and that meeting was filled with arrogance and contempt, leaving the men...

(The entire section is 552 words.)

Part 5, Chapter 8 Summary

After leaving her husband and recovering her health, Anna Karenina feels “unpardonably happy” about her life. The thought of her husband’s unhappiness should poison that happiness, but it does not. While her husband’s wretchedness is too awful for her to think about, Alexey Alexandrovitch’s misery gives her too much happiness to feel any regret. Everything that happened after her illness seems a dream to her now. The reconciliation with her husband, the subsequent breakdown of that reconciliation, the news of Vronsky’s self-inflicted wound, the preparations for divorce, the departure from her home, the parting from her son—all of these things are like a delirious dream. She feels nothing but repulsion for these...

(The entire section is 555 words.)

Part 5, Chapter 9 Summary

The old palazzo into which Levin and Anna Karenina are moving is old but grand in an Italian way. This setting allows Vronsky to imagine himself less as a Russian count than an Italian patron of the arts. He has abandoned everything to pursue his two passions: his art and the woman he loves.

Vronsky is satisfied for awhile, studying Medieval Italian life and painting under the guidance of an Italian professor of painting. One morning, Golenishtchev comes to visit and asks Vronsky if he has seen a painting by Mihailov, an artist who is living in the same town. Mihailov has just finished a painting which has been talked about for a long time and bought before it was ever finished. A newspaper article scolded the Russian...

(The entire section is 540 words.)

Part 5, Chapter 10 Summary

Mihailov is working when the cards of Golenishtchev and Count Vronsky are delivered to him. That morning he had been working on his most famous picture, but when he arrived home he flew into a rage at his wife because she had not been able to deter the landlady who wanted the money they owed her. His wife, of course, blamed him for not letting them get so far behind on the rent, and Mihailov ends the argument by screaming at her to leave him in peace. He stalks off to his workroom and works with special fervor on a sketch he had begun.

Mihailov always did some of his best work after quarreling with his wife, and now he is making a sketch of a man in a violent rage. It is similar to a drawing he had made before,...

(The entire section is 550 words.)

Part 5, Chapter 11 Summary

As Mihailov admits the visitors into his studio, he captures subtle mental impressions of each of them. He remembers Golenishtchev, though he does not remember the man’s name, where they met, or what either of them said. All Mihailov remembers is his face, just as he remembers all the faces he has ever seen. The one thing he does remember about Golenishtchev’s face is that it belongs to the immense class of men who are “falsely consequential and poor in expression.”

Vronsky and Anna Karenina seem to Mihailov to be distinguished and wealthy Russians who know nothing about art, posing as connoisseurs. He assumes they have probably already examined everything in the world of antiques and are now beginning their...

(The entire section is 555 words.)

Part 5, Chapter 12 Summary

Anna Karenina and Vronsky exchange uncomfortable glances as their companion debates with the artist, and soon they walk around the studio until they stop before one small painting. Their exclamations of delight at the exquisite work capture the artist’s attention, and he wonders what they are so pleased to see.

Mihailov had forgotten about this painting that he had done three years ago and the three months of agonizing it had cost him. Once it was completed, however, he had forgotten it, just as he does all of his finished works. In fact, he does not even like to look at them again; he only has this one out because he is expecting an Englishman who wants to buy it. Even Golenishtchev is sincere in his praise for the...

(The entire section is 501 words.)

Part 5, Chapter 13 Summary

Mihailov sold Vronsky his painting and agrees to paint a portrait of Anna Karenina. After just the fifth sitting, the portrait impresses everyone who sees it. Not only has Mihailov portrayed her beauty, but he has also captured her beautiful nature. Vronsky is perplexed and wonders how this stranger has discovered the “sweetest expression of her soul,” though Vronsky himself only learned that secret after seeing the portrait. Vronsky, after working so long on his own portrait of her, is amazed that Mihailov simply looks, sees, and paints.

Golenishtchev assures Vronsky he will one day be able to paint in such a way, partly because he believes Vronsky has talent and partly because he needs Vronsky’s...

(The entire section is 559 words.)

Part 5, Chapter 14 Summary

After three months, Levin’s life is not as he had expected it to be. He finds his former dreams disappointed while experiencing new and unexpected surprises of happiness. Levin is happy, but family life is not what he expected it to be. It is as if he had been admiring a little boat floating on a lake and now he is in the boat, discovering that there are things he must do to maintain balance, account for the fluidity of water, steer a safe course, and deal with sore hands. Looking at it was easy; actually doing it is quite delightful but quite difficult.

He always though the petty squabbles and quarrels he had seen in other marriages were for others, and he had smiled contemptuously, knowing his married life...

(The entire section is 552 words.)

Part 5, Chapter 15 Summary

Home from Moscow, Kitty and Levin have settled into their home. Levin is working on his land and his book but not as he once had. Neither of these passions has been abandoned, but his priorities have changed. Just as he once saw them as trivial and unimportant compared to the darkness of his lonely life, now farming and his book are insignificant when compared to the brilliant happiness and light of his marriage to Kitty.

Levin’s center of gravity and attention have moved to something else. At one time, his work was his escape from life, and his world would have been gloomy and dismal without it; now they are necessary so his life is not too glowingly bright. Looking at his manuscript, though, Levin is pleased to...

(The entire section is 550 words.)

Part 5, Chapter 16 Summary

Levin joins his wife for tea, and Kitty is reading a letter from her sister Dolly. Agafea Mihalovna is also there, a testament to Kitty’s graciousness. After an uncomfortable beginning in which the housekeeper’s feelings were hurt by a new mistress taking over the duties of the house, Kitty has “conquered her and made her love her.” Kitty hands Levin a letter from Marya Nikolaevna, his brother Nikolay’s former mistress. This is the second letter he has received from her. In the first one, Marya assured him that Nikolay sent her away for no fault of hers, and though she was in want, all she was concerned about was that Nikolay was suffering without her help because his health was so poor. She begged Levin to look after...

(The entire section is 554 words.)

Part 5, Chapter 17 Summary

The hotel was constructed as a modern building with the best intentions of cleanliness and even elegance; however, it has been diminished to a filthy, dusty, disorderly place. Levin feels a physical pain when he enters, and when he is told there is only one filthy room available, he feels anger. What he feared has happened; instead of immediately going to his brother’s bedside, Levin must worry about the conditions to which Kitty is being exposed.

Levin takes her to their room, and she tells him with guilty eyes to go to Nikolay. He leaves without a word and nearly trips over Marya Nikolaevna who heard he arrived and came to him immediately. She looks as common as she did when he last saw her, and she hesitantly asks...

(The entire section is 482 words.)

Part 5, Chapter 18 Summary

Levin finds it impossible to be calm and act naturally in his dying brother’s presence. He is inescapably aware of the awful sights and smells, and it never occurs to him that anything can be done to help or change these conditions. He does not think about his brother’s body lying all huddled up under a quilt or that it might be made more comfortable. In fact, Levin is absolutely convinced there is nothing which can be done to alleviate his brother’s suffering or prolong his life in any way. Unfortunately, Nikolay senses his brother’s feeling of helplessness and is exasperated by it, making everything even worse for Levin. Being in the sick room is agony to him; not being there is even worse. Levin is constantly leaving...

(The entire section is 560 words.)

Part 5, Chapter 19 Summary

Levin is like every other man of intellect, men who can talk about death and its eternal consequences but do not know how to act when faced with it. Kitty, though less intellectually developed, understands death and its significance; she knows what sort of thing life is and what death is and would not have even understood the questions Levin has about the end of life. She and millions of others like her look at death, are not frightened of it, and know without hesitation how to deal with the dying. If Levin had been here alone with his dying brother, he would have looked at him with terror and with even greater terror waited, not knowing what else to do.

Even more, Levin does not know what to say, how to look, or how to...

(The entire section is 540 words.)

Part 5, Chapter 20 Summary

The next day Nikolay receives the sacrament and extreme unction; he prays with such desperate hope that it is awful for Levin to see. He understands that this will make Nikolay even bitterer about leaving this life. This sudden return to religion is not a legitimate one, inspired by his intellect; instead it is a temporary and desperate hope for recovery. As the rite is performed, Levin makes a familiar deathbed request that if God exists He should save them both.

After the ritual, Nikolay becomes suddenly much better. He seems strong and even has an appetite. Despite the fact that he seems so hopelessly ill he will never recover, Levin and Kitty are both happy in that first hour. The self-deception is short-lived when...

(The entire section is 553 words.)

Part 5, Chapter 21 Summary

After Princess Betsy and Stepan Arkadyevitch explain to him that all his wife wants is for him to stay away from her, Alexey Alexandrovitch is so distraught that he can make no decisions for himself. Whenever people step in to decide things for him, he readily assents. Only after Anna Karenina has gone and the English governess asks if she should dine with him or by herself does he clearly comprehend his position—and he is appalled by it.

The most difficult thing for him is reconciling his past with his present. He is not troubled by memories of his happy past with Anna Karenina; and, though it is painful to think about, he understands his wife’s unfaithfulness. Even if she had left him after declaring her...

(The entire section is 532 words.)

Part 5, Chapter 22 Summary

Though Alexey Alexandrovitch has forgotten about Countess Lidia Ivanovna, she has not forgotten about him. At his greatest moment of despair, she comes to see him and walks unannounced into his study where he is sitting with his head in his hands. She walks straight to him, takes his hand in both of hers, looks warmly into his eyes, and tells him she has heard all about his troubles. Alexey Alexandrovitch is upset, and he tells the countess he is not receiving visitors because he is unwell. The countess never takes her eyes from his, and he can see that she is about to cry in her sorrow for him. This softens Alexey Alexandrovitch, and he kisses Lidia Ivanovna’s hand.

Dropping her hand but keeping his gaze on her...

(The entire section is 552 words.)

Part 5, Chapter 23 Summary

When she was a young, sentimental girl, Countess Lidia Ivanovna was married to a wealthy man of high rank. Though he was jovial and good-natured, he was also an “extremely dissipated rake” who abandoned her just two months after the marriage. When the countess protested passionately and professed her love for him, her husband mocked her and was even hostile. People who knew his good heart and her sentimental nature were at a loss to explain why the couple got divorced. They lived apart and he had his freedom, yet every time the husband met the wife he invariably treated her malignantly, though she never understood why.

The countess has long ago given up being in love with her husband, but since then she has not...

(The entire section is 544 words.)

Part 5, Chapter 24 Summary

The official reception has ended and people are openly making comments about Alexey Alexandrovitch. Some say he looks older, some say he looks happier than he has ever looked; all either find fault with him or laugh at him. The man himself is blocking the exit of a member of the Imperial Council, explaining his new financial project point by point. Alexey Alexandrovitch keeps talking for fear the man should escape and he will be left alone in the crowd.

Almost at the same time Anna Karenina left him, Alexey Alexandrovitch experienced the most bitter moment in the life of an official—though he is the only one who does not know it. It is the moment when his upward career comes to a complete stop. Everyone around him...

(The entire section is 539 words.)

Part 5, Chapter 25 Summary

Alexey Alexandrovitch is waiting for Lidia Ivanovna in her boudoir. When she enters they have tea, and then with some trepidation and great blushing the countess shows him the letter she received from Anna Karenina. After he reads it, Alexey Alexandrovitch sits for a long while in silence. Finally he says he does not think he has the right to refuse his wife’s request.

The countess exclaims that he sees no evil in anyone; he assures her that all he sees in this is evil. His face shows irresolution, however, and it is clear he is seeking her support and guidance in this matter which he does not completely understand. The countess is adamant that there are limits to everything and cannot understand what drives...

(The entire section is 547 words.)

Part 5, Chapter 26 Summary

The day before his birthday, Seryozha cheerfully enters his house after a walk and asks the hall porter if the bandaged clerk has been here today; the tall servant winks at him good-naturedly as he tells him the man was announced as soon as was possible. Seryozha’s feeble-voiced tutor speaks but the boy does not listen; he wants to hear what happened to the bandaged man.

The clerk with the bandaged face has been to see Alexey Alexandrovitch seven times to ask various favors. Seryozha has met him twice in the hallway and now has a great interest in the man. The porter says the bandaged man was almost dancing when he left. After a short pause, Seryozha asks if anything has been left for him today, and the...

(The entire section is 513 words.)

Part 5, Chapter 27 Summary

After the lesson with his tutor, Seryozha daydreams before his Bible history lesson with his father. One of the boy’s favorite things to do is to search for his mother during his walks. He does not particularly believe in death, and his recent experiences help confirm that belief: Lidia Ivanovna told him his mother was dead, his father confirmed it, he accidentally learned Anna Karenina is still alive, and the countess then explained that his mother is only dead to him because she is wicked.

Seryozha cannot believe his mother is evil, so he continues to look for her. Every woman who has Anna Karenina’s figure and dark hair is his mother, and every time he sees such a woman he is moved with tenderness. In his...

(The entire section is 549 words.)

Part 5, Chapter 28 Summary

In one of the best hotels in St. Petersburg, Anna Karenina, her daughter, and maid stay in one suite of rooms. Vronsky stays in a separate room. Once they arrive, Vronsky visits his brother and finds that his mother is also there, visiting from Moscow. She and his sister-in-law visit with him as always, and neither of them mentions one word about Anna Karenina. Vronsky’s brother visits him the next day and asks about her directly. Vronsky says he considers Anna Karenina to be his wife; he hopes to secure a divorce and then marry her, and he asks his brother to report his intentions to his wife and their mother. The older brother has nothing against the arrangement, no matter what society has said, and he spends some time visiting...

(The entire section is 555 words.)

Part 5, Chapter 29 Summary

One of Anna Karenina’s primary objectives in coming back to St. Petersburg is to see her son, and ever since she and Vronsky left Italy the thought of it has kept her in a constant state of agitation. The closer they get to her former home, the more important this meeting grows in her mind. She does not even bother to wonder how she will arrange a meeting, as it seems a natural and simple thing for her to see her son when she is in the same town as he. Once they arrive, however, Anna Karenina is acutely aware of her fallen position in society and realizes it could be difficult for her to see Seryozha.

It has been two days and she has not yet seen him. She feels she has no right to go to the house where she might also...

(The entire section is 475 words.)

Part 5, Chapter 30 Summary

Seryozha’s tutor, Vassily Lukitch, is just growing alert enough to realize that the boy’s mother (whom he had heard about but never seen) is here with her son. Lukitch is unsure whether he should stay or go, or if he should let Alexey Alexandrovitch know his wife is here. He decides just to do his duty and go get the boy up for the day. When he opens the door and overhears part of their quiet conversation and sees their embraces, the tutor changes his mind and decides to give them ten more minutes alone.

The rest of the household is in a state of excitement, for they have all heard that their former mistress has come home. Alexey Alexandrovitch is in the habit of going to the nursery to see his son at nine o’clock...

(The entire section is 550 words.)

Part 5, Chapter 31 Summary

Though she had prepared for it, Anna Karenina is stunned at how deeply seeing her son has affected her. She is too distracted to dress or eat, and only when the Italian nurse brings baby Anna to her does she exhibit some life. While she touches her happy and well fed little girl in all the affectionate and appropriate ways, Anna Karenina realizes more than ever that the feeling she has for this child cannot be called love when compared with what she feels for her son.

Everything about this baby girl is charming, but that is as far as it goes with Anna Karenina. The circumstances surrounding baby Anna’s birth had been painful, and for this little girl everything is still in the future. Though Seryozha had been born to...

(The entire section is 530 words.)

Part 5, Chapter 32 Summary

When Vronsky returns home, Anna Karenina is not there. The servants tell him that a lady came and they left together. He is unsettled that she left without leaving word about where she was going, that she has not yet returned, and that she had gone somewhere that morning without telling him anything about it. All of these things add to his recollection of her hostile tone when they last saw one another, her grabbing the pictures of her son from his hand earlier in the day, and the strange look of excitement on her face that morning. He begins thinking seriously and decides he absolutely must speak with her openly.

Anna Karenina does not return alone. She brings with her an old, unmarried aunt with whom she had been...

(The entire section is 545 words.)

Part 5, Chapter 33 Summary

For the first time, Vronsky feels anger—almost hatred—toward Anna Karenina for willfully refusing to understand her own position. This anger is aggravated by his own inability to tell her what he is thinking: that she will be issuing an open challenge to society which will cut her off from it forever. He wonders how she cannot see this obvious truth for herself. His respect for her has diminished while his appreciation of her beauty has intensified. Vronsky goes down to his room and paces, thinking about everyone in society who will be at the theater tonight; from every point of view, Anna Karenina’s going is “stupid.” In despair, he wonders why she is determined to put him in this position.

He leaves for the...

(The entire section is 532 words.)

Part 6, Chapter 1 Summary

Darya Alexandrovna and her children spend the summer with her sister, Kitty Levin. Her own house in the area is in ruins, and both Kitty and Levin persuaded her to spend the summer with them. Stepan Arkadyevitch is happy with the arrangement. Though his duties keep him in Moscow much of the time, he does come to the country to visit his family for several days at a time throughout the summer. The old princess also spends her summer in the country, seeing it as her duty to oversee her inexperienced daughter’s pregnancy. And, as she promised to do when she married, Kitty’s friend from abroad, Varenka, comes to visit.

All of these visitors are from Kitty’s side of the family, and Levin often regrets not being able to...

(The entire section is 490 words.)

Part 6, Chapter 2 Summary