The story Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy is a story in Moscow about a husband named Stiva Oblonsky that has had an affair with another woman and his wife Dolly Oblonsky is very upset and won’t come out of her room. They have children and Dolly is upset with Stiva because he is hurting the family and making it hard to trust him anymore. Stiva decided to go to his business because it’s a very comfortable and he need to calm down with what is happening at his house hold. An old friend named Konstantin Levin makes a surprise visit while Stiva is in his office. Konstantin doesn’t live in Moscow so he traveled far to visit him. Stiva plans a dinner the next night for them to discuss the problem, Stiva believes that Konstantin will talk to him about his sister-in-law Kitty which he is madly in love with. Konstantin is staying with his half-brother Koznyshev in Moscow and they are both making a plan to visit their third brother Nikolai who is back in Moscow with his new girlfriend. Koznyshev believes that Nikolai can’t be helped; Konstantin believes that he can get through to him but Koznyshev advises him not to go see Nikolai. Konstantin than goes to the skating rink to see Kitty, when they meet at the skating rink they start to chat about everything but when Konstantin tells Kitty that he feels comfortable when she leans on him while they skate she yells at him and tells him to leave her alone. Konstantin leaves the skating rink and goes to the planned dinner with Stiva and starts confessing to him about how much he is in love with Kitty. Stiva tells him about Kitty’s other guy friend named Alexei Vronsky who is an officer. Konstantin asks Kitty to accompany her one night but Kitty is madly in love with Alexei and not Konstantin. Kitty accepts and finds Konstantin in a garden proposing to her but Kitty rejects him and runs back to her home in tears. The next morning Alexei Vronsky goes to the train station to meet his mother and turns out finding Stiva waiting at the train station for his sister Anna Karenina who is leaving her home life because of all the affairs she has had and all of the things people are saying about her. Alexei talks to Stiva about Konstantin being awkward all the time but Stiva defends him and argues with him intensely. Stiva than finds his sister Anna Karenina getting off the train while Alexei still waits for his mother at the train station. Kitty ends up loving Konstantin because she sees how nice and caring he is to her. Anna ends up falling in love with Alexei and they start their own family together and they have a child.
Anna Karenina is the main character in the story because she symbolizes the lust for love and the carelessness of reality. She is a beautiful aristocrat whose pursuit of love and emotional honesty makes her an outcast of society. Anna has many affairs with men which makes her miserable because society exiles her. Anna believes in love and wants to love everyone and be with everyone in the story. She is smart and beautiful and the upper class and lower class men love her for it. She is a symbol of love and what it could be if it gets out of hand. She is the sister of Stiva and has a husband that is not mentioned much in the story. When she is rejected from society she kills herself because no one will accept her for who she is and what she believes.
Stiva Oblonsky is the first character that appears in the story; he is an aristocrat that puts personal fulfillment over his family and job. He has an affair with the governess and destroys his family relationship; he is friends with Konstantin and Alexei but favors Konstantin more. He tries to get Kitty to fall in love with Konstantin and he wants to see his sister Anna Karenina. Stiva symbolizes the corruption of the big city and contrasts with moral conscience but it is very hard to scorn him.
Dolly Oblonsky is Stiva’s wife that was cheated on and lied to at the beginning of the story. She is the sister of Anna Karenina and she believes that Anna is a good person and is trying to live life to the fullest. Dolly is the nicest one in the story and wants the best for everyone and will help anybody out if they need it.
Konstantin Levin is one of the main characters in the story because he is always trying to find love and when he meets Kitty he falls hard for her. He is socially awkward throughout the story but is very kind hearted to everyone. He is always trying to woo Kitty so that she falls in love with him. He is a co-protagonist character because he is always being rejected by Kitty but at the end of the story he marries her. He is very smart and he wants to be sincere and productive in everything he does, he leaves his post in the local government because he sees it as useless and bureaucratic. Konstantin shows faith at the end of the story which finally gets Kitty to fall in love with him.
Alexei Vronsky is the military officer that falls in love with Kitty and Woo’s her throughout the story. He is a strong individual that doesn’t like to lose and doesn’t mind hurting someone to get what he wants. The reader can’t tell Alexei’s secrets and what his real and personal side is in the story. He is very rude to women and he treats people very badly but he is showing us that he is a mistake when falling in love and he shouldn’t be trusted throughout the story.
Kitty is Stiva’s sister-in-law and she has a natural beauty and personality that every guy wants. She is sensitive and over protected when it comes to Konstantin ad Alexei. She is stuck between the two of them and she is very caring for both but very unsure with whom she is in love with. She doesn’t like the bad parts of reality and will try to stop them before they grow. She cares for Konstantin’s dying brother Nikolai which shows courage and compassion which helps her realize that Konstantin is the right man for her.
The setting of this story takes place in downtown Moscow during the late 1830’s. The story was written because of how the government and economy was in Russia at this time. Adultery was spreading through Russia at the time and Leo Tolstoy was against this and created a story to show that love has no boundaries. The political issues were bad during the late 1830’s and Leo Tolstoy believed that if he wrote this story than the government and the people would read it and react to it in a positive way to change the politics. All of the character in the story mean something about the politics and government in Russia and are used in ways to show what is wrong with the government. The city in Moscow is very expensive to live and the people are very judgmental and are all into politics. The characters in the story have to find their true selves and accept the way they are to the people of Moscow and they accept society for what it is.
Man v. Man is Konstantin and Alexei because they are both fighting over Kitty. They are trying to outdo each other and to impress Kitty and her parents so they can have her hand in marriage. Konstantin ends up wining Kitty because of his kind emotions and caring compassion and Alexei ends up breaking her heart.
Man v. Self is Anna Karenina always fighting with herself because she is always finding new men and loving them just as much as the last man. She doesn’t feel right because she is always being turned down by people and she can’t accept reality. She doesn’t feel right inside and she is confused on what to do to stop her sad and emotional feelings.
Man v. Society is Anna Karenina because she is always with new men and the society doesn’t like the idea of that. Society bans and shuns her away from the town and they don’t want her ruining any more marriages. Anna can’t accept society and will not find just one man so society doesn’t accept her and will not forgive her of what she does.
Social change in Russia during the nineteenth century is one of the themes that are represented in this story. Adultery was spreading throughout Russia and Leo Tolstoy was against the idea of adultery and wanted to create a story that shows that there are no boundaries on love and you can’t stop someone from loving someone else. Leo Tolstoy was liberal and believed in freethinking which led up to technology, rationalism and democracy. The characters in the story are all revolting to different jobs and ideas the government is establishing in the story. Western social progress is moving towards Russia and is giving people ideas to change the way that the government works and how the politics are set up. This shows the reader that the social change in Russia was harsh against some people and that it is very hard to deal with it.
The blessings of family life are the second theme in the story that is shown with all of the characters. When families are together than it is a blessing but if the family is like Stiva and Dolly Oblonsky than the family life is a disaster. Family life is difficult and frustrating but when the family undergoes something dramatic than the family either gets stronger or they give up. Family life is a source of comfort and happiness and when you put faith and trust into it than it is worth having. This shows the reader how important family was in the story and when you don’t have a family you start to reject reality and what is going on in the society.
Adultery is the last theme in the story that is shown by most of the characters. Russia established adultery and caused many problems throughout society. Adultery is in the story but it is not as strong when it comes to religion in the story because the characters aren’t very religious. Adultery is a social issue in the story because the relationship that Anna has with Vronsky makes people of that society dislike them and look down on them. The characters try to look good and decent in front of the people in society so they are not shunned and judged for what they are doing secretly. This story shows the readers that the society was harsh and wouldn’t understand the love that people could have for each other.
The first symbol is a train; this is a negative symbol in the story because Anna describes her husband as a train because since he is working so hard she will never see him again because he will have left the station. Anna meets Vronsky at a train station which creates a tension in the story. Anna also sees a dead railroad worker at a train station which creates a bad omen for the symbol train. When the train left the station it took Anna’s morals, love, social life, physical life and her family life away from her. The readers see that the train takes away Anna’s problems and morals when she leaves the station and the train is a bad sign in the story because of what happens with Anna at the station.
The second symbol in this story is Vronsky’s racehorse because it is a symbol of Anna’s relationship with Vronsky. Vronsky buys the horse because it is fast, smart, beautiful and a great thing to have. Vronsky then runs the horse into the ground and ruins the horse just like he ruined their relationship. The horse and Vronsky are both destroyed which symbolizes that his relationship with Anna is destroyed. The readers can tell that Vronsky has ruined his chance with Anna and that love can’t be tamed or bought.
The last symbol in the story is Konstantin and Kitty’s marriage. This symbol shows that both individuals are stubborn and won’t accept morals in society. They both find each other and end up loving each other at the end of the story; they put their differences and ideas aside to see what is right in front of them, their stubbornness is forgotten and they end up marrying each other. The two characters put their faith into the relationship and end up being a great couple and starting a family by having a baby. The reader can see that their marriage means that people that are stubborn and different from society can put their differences away for love.