Characters Discussed

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1040

Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina (AH-nah kah-REH-nee-nah), Karenin’s beautiful, wayward wife. After meeting the handsome Count Vronsky, she falls completely in love with him, even though she realizes what the consequences of this act of infidelity may be. In spite of love for her child, she cannot give up Vronsky. Estranged from her husband, this unhappy woman, once so generous and respected, has an illegitimate child, runs off with Vronsky, and finally, when his love seems to wane, commits suicide by throwing herself in front of an approaching railway engine.

Count Alexey Kirilich Vronsky

Count Alexey Kirilich Vronsky (ah-lehk-SAY kee-REE-lihch VROHN-skihy), a wealthy army officer who eagerly returns Anna Karenina’s love. He is not a bad man; in fact, he is thoughtful and generous in many ways, as he proved when he gave part of his inheritance to his brother. Yet he thinks nothing of taking Anna away from her husband. Actually, such behavior is part of his code, which approves patronizing his inferiors. After Anna’s death, he becomes a gloomy seeker after death.

Alexei Karenin

Alexei Karenin (ah-lehk-SAY kah-REH-neen), a public official and a cold-blooded, ambitious man whose main desire is to rise in government service. Seemingly incapable of jealousy or love (except self-love), he allows Anna to see Vronsky. He is afraid only that his reputation will be blemished by his wife’s infidelity. In spite of his cold temperament, he is a good official who knows how to cut red tape and bureaucratic inefficiency.

Sergey Alexeyich Karenin

Sergey Alexeyich Karenin (sehr-GAY ah-lehk-SEH-ihch), called Serezha (sehr-EH-zhah), Anna Karenina’s bewildered young son. Recognizing the schism between his father and mother, he is often distraught by what he senses but does not understand.

Konstantine Levin

Konstantine Levin (kohn-stan-TEENLEE-vihn), a prosperous landowner. A fine, decent man, he intensely dislikes all forms of chicanery and hypocrisy. With his generous spirit and democratic outlook, he wants to help his peasants by giving them larger profits from their work on his estate. In return, he believes they will work better in his behalf. Forgetting his pride, he finally marries Kitty Shtcherbatskaya, and together they work hard to make his agricultural theories succeed.

Prince Stepan Oblonsky

Prince Stepan Oblonsky (steh-PAHN oh-BLON-skihy), a high government official and Anna’s brother. With his strong, well-fed body, he is the very picture of robust energy. A kind, often guilt-ridden man, he has a bachelor’s temperament, and he finds it practically impossible to be true to his unattractive, jealous wife. After each affair, he strongly feels his guilt and tries to make amends, only to be smitten by the next pretty face he sees. He is so cheerful and happy that people like to be around him.

Princess Darya Oblonskaya

Princess Darya Oblonskaya (oh-BLON-skah-yah), called Dolly, Oblonsky’s long-suffering and unattractive wife. Faced with her husband’s infidelity, she finds solace in her six children. Although she often threatens to leave him, she never does, and she becomes partly reconciled to his philandering.

Princess Catharine Shtcherbatskaya

Princess Catharine Shtcherbatskaya (shchehr-BAHT-skah-yah), called Kitty, Dolly’s younger sister, who cannot choose between sober, generous Konstantine Levin and the more dashing Count Vronsky. When she learns that Vronsky obviously is not interested in marriage, she knows she has made an error in refusing Levin’s proposal. After a short period of despondency, she realizes that the future is not completely gloomy, and she marries Levin.

Prince Alexander Shtcherbatsky

Prince Alexander Shtcherbatsky (shchehr-BAHT -skihy), a bluff, hardy man, the father of Kitty and...

(This entire section contains 1040 words.)

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Dolly. He likes Levin as Kitty’s suitor because he is often suspicious of Vronsky’s intentions toward his daughter. His cheerfulness lifts the spirits of his associates.

Princess Shtcherbatskaya

Princess Shtcherbatskaya, Dolly and Kitty’s ambitious mother. At first, she hopes that Kitty will marry Vronsky. Later, she is willing to accept Levin as Kitty’s husband.

Nicholas Levin

Nicholas Levin, Konstantine’s brother. A rather pitiful figure, he is aware of his approaching death from tuberculosis. Dreading his fate, he is a somber man, subject to violent rages and childish behavior.

Sergius Ivanich Koznyshev

Sergius Ivanich Koznyshev (SUR-gee-uhs ee-VAHN-ihch kos-NIHY-shehv), Konstantine Levin’s half brother, a noted novelist and philosopher whose favorite pastime is debating the issues of the day. Although he has many convincing arguments, it is doubtful that he understands the peasants as well as his less articulate brother does.

Countess Vronskaya

Countess Vronskaya (VROHN-skah-yah), Count Vronsky’s mother. An emaciated old woman, she tries to keep her favorite son under close watch. Failing in this effort, she withholds his allowance.

Mary Nikolavna

Mary Nikolavna (nee-koh-LAH-ehv-nah), called Masha, Nicholas Levin’s mistress. She looks after the sick man as she would a child, even though he does not seem to appreciate her attempts to help him.

Tanya Oblonskaya

Tanya Oblonskaya, Prince Oblonsky’s daughter.


Grisha, Oblonsky’s son.

Princess Elizabeth Fëdorovna Tvershaya

Princess Elizabeth Fëdorovna Tvershaya (FYOH-doh-rov-nah TVEHR-shah-yah), called Betsy, who acts as a go-between for Vronsky and Anna. Like many women in her social set, Betsy has a lover.

Agatha Mikhaylovna

Agatha Mikhaylovna (mee-KHAY-lov-nah), Levin’s trusted housekeeper and confidante.

Princess Myagkaya

Princess Myagkaya (MYAG-kah-yah), who likes to gossip and has a sharp, vituperative tongue.

Lieutenant Petritsky

Lieutenant Petritsky (peh-TRIH-tskihy), Count Vronsky’s friend, a hard-drinking gambler. His commanding officer often threatens to expel him from the regiment.

Prince Yashvin

Prince Yashvin (YAH-shvihn), Vronsky’s friend. Like Petritsky, he is a hard drinker and an inveterate gambler.


Kuzma (kewz-MAH), Levin’s manservant.


Mikhail and


Piotr (pyohtr), Vronsky’s servants.

Piotr Ivanovich

Piotr Ivanovich, a professor.


Petrov (peh-TROHV), an invalid artist dying of tuberculosis. He is infatuated with Kitty.

Anna Pavlovna

Anna Pavlovna (PAHV-lov-nah), Petrov’s jealous wife.

Sappho Stolz

Sappho Stolz (SA-foh shtohltz), a full-blown actress.

Lisa Merkalova

Lisa Merkalova (mehr-KAH-loh-vah), Betsy Tvershaya’s friend. A beautiful, charming girl, she always has a number of ardent admirers following her.

Nicholas Ivanich Sviyazhsky

Nicholas Ivanich Sviyazhsky (SVYAZH-skihy), a wealthy landowner and a marshal of the nobility.

Mlle Varenka

Mlle Varenka (vah-REHN-kah), Kitty’s friend. She is wholesome and pure, and her greatest pleasure is caring for the sick.

Mme Stahl

Mme Stahl, Mlle Varenka’s malingering foster mother.


Annushka (AH-new-shkah), Anna Karenina’s maid.


Chapter Summaries


Critical Essays