Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy, is first a tragedy, by which is meant “a story about a fall from a high place” In this case the “high place” is the status of Anna and her husband, Karenin, an impending fall caused by her affair with a Count Vronsky, a bachelor (foreshadowed by her brother’s affairs). If the affair is made known, the Karenina family will lose a great deal of their social standing, and with it, economic consequenses). Vronsky and Anna go to Italy together to continue their affair, but cannot find friends there. Her return to Russia results in her being shunned and ostracized, and her mistrust of Vronsky’s faithfulness, because he continues to engage in his social sphere’s life without her at his side. She becomes possessive and paranoid, leading to despair and ending with her sudden, unplanned suicide bt throwing herself in front of a train (giving just enough speculation to “society” that it may have been an accident.) The long novel itself, however, is more about Russian feudal politics and changing social strata – to some degree the “love story” is just a vehicle for the detailed portrait of Tolstoy’s Russia. The reasons for her suicide, then, are rather complex, and include her grief over losing Vronsky, her shame at her cheating on her husband, her fear of losing social status, and perhaps even her despair at the social trap she finds herself in, unable to free herself from the “gender prison” of a 19th century Russian woman.
Popular QuestionsBrowse All
Latest answer posted December 26, 2012 at 7:06:23 AM
Latest answer posted November 06, 2019 at 4:26:37 PM
Discuss Anna Karenina as an indictment on the religious and social milieu of the nineteenth century.
Latest answer posted January 09, 2022 at 1:26:22 PM
How does the line "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its way" indicate Anna's death in Anna Karenina?
Latest answer posted May 28, 2012 at 11:15:55 AM
Latest answer posted September 25, 2018 at 6:23:43 PM