Anna Karenina Part 5, Chapter 8 Summary
by Leo Tolstoy

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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 things. She committed an evil action and someone was badly damaged, but it was the only way to escape and is not worth brooding about today.

One reflection consoles her. Anna Karenina has made her husband wretched, but she does not want to profit from his misery. She, too, shall suffer. She has lost her good name and her son. There will be no happiness for her; she has done wrong and will suffer the consequences. However sincerely she believes this, though, Anna Karenina is not suffering.

There has been no shame, for they have never placed themselves in circumstances which might cause shame; everywhere they have met people who pretend to understand their circumstances. Even losing her son has not been particularly traumatic, since her baby girl has totally won her heart and she rarely even thinks about him. Anna Karenina’s desire for life grows each day, as does her love for Vronsky. She loves him for loving her so completely and sacrificially, and everything he does and is seems noble to her. Anna Karenina is perfectly happy.

Vronsky, on the other hand, is not perfectly happy. The realization of his desires has given him no more than “a grain of sand out of the mountain of happiness he had expected.” For a short time after they left Russia, Vronsky reveled in his freedom, something he had never really experienced in his life. Soon, though, he is aware of a kind of ennui, a desire for desires,...

(The entire section is 555 words.)