Anna Karenina Part 7, Chapter 23 Summary
by Leo Tolstoy

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Part 7, Chapter 23 Summary

In a family, there must either be complete division or loving agreement. If the couple is vacillating, nothing will be accomplished or changed. Even if both are miserable, they will generally do nothing because they have neither complete agreement nor complete disagreement between them. Both Vronsky and Anna Karenina find life in Moscow impossible during the summer, but they do not go to the country. They stay in the place they both loathe because there is no agreement between them.

There is no external cause for their disagreement, and everything they do to ameliorate it only makes it worse. In fact, any attempts to come to an understanding create more irritation. She is convinced that Vronsky’s love is waning; he regrets he has put himself in this difficult position which she does not lighten but makes even more difficult. Neither of them speaks these things aloud, but they are convinced the other person is in the wrong and use every opportunity to prove it to one another.

To Anna Karenina, every part of Vronsky’s love ought to be concentrated on her; since it is not, she reasons that he must have transferred at least part of his love to one or several other woman. She is jealous not of anyone in particular; she is jealous because his love for her has decreased, and she transfers that jealousy easily from one thing to another. Anna Karenina has been jealous of many women and finds grounds for indignation in everything.

All the agonizing things about living in Moscow—the inability of Alexey Alexandrovitch to decide on the divorce, the waiting and suspense, her solitude—she blames on Vronsky. If he had loved her, Vronsky would have seen the bitterness of her position and rescued her from it. In her mind, it is also his fault that they are living in Moscow and not in the country since he could not live in isolation from society. And, as always, it is his fault she has lost her son. Even the rare moments of tenderness he occasionally gives her do not soothe her; she sees in them a kind of complacency and...

(The entire section is 541 words.)