Preview
Preview

Judgment in Anna Karenina Essay

:: 1 Works Cited
Length: 1793 words (5.1 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Blue      
Open Document




- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The question of judgment and sympathies in Anna Karenina is one that seems to become more complicated each time I read the novel. The basic problem with locating the voice of judgment is that throughout the novel, there are places where we feel less than comfortable with the seemingly straightforward, at times even didactic presentation of Anna and Vronsky's fall into sin alongside Levin's constant moral struggle. As Anna's story unfolds in its episodic manner within the context of the rest of the novel, Tolstoy seems to be trying to make the fact of her guilt more and more clear to us; at the same time though, we have more and more difficulty in tracing out the specific locus of that guilt. In a novel as consummately constructed as this one is, we are tempted to look for places where the undercurrents of the text, the places where the text takes on its own life and force, run against, or at least complicate, the discernment of authorial judgment. By closely examining Tolstoy's treatment of Anna's moral crisis as compared with his handling of Levin, we might attempt to unravel the book's rather layered and complex system of condemnation.

The novel's epigraph sets a certain tone for us before we even begin reading; the biblically inflected "Vengeance is mine; I will repay," plants in our heads the idea that wrong will be done and punishment exacted. Indeed, we come across a wrong in the very first lines of the opening chapter, in Stepan Arkadyich's dalliance with the French governess, which has thrown the Oblonsky house into "confusion."(1) Tolstoy's descriptions of Stepan Arkadyich as a pleasant, honest, well-liked bon vivant seem at times to drip with contempt. He is "lazy and mischievous"(14), his life...


... middle of paper ...


...he end, perhaps because Tolstoy was a better writer than he was true moralist, I'm not sure that Tolstoy ever reconciled the novel's judgment of Anna with his own sympathy and love for her. The result is a novel divided, uneasy with the Œvengefulness' of its own condemnation, perhaps proud of its over-riding message of living for truth and "the good"(817) in life, but ultimately unable to fully convince us that it gravitates toward its own confused and forced moral center.

Works Cited and Consulted

Cherneshevsky, Nikolai. "The Anthropological Principle in Philosophy" in Edie, Scanlan and Zeldin, eds., Russian Philosophy Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1965.

Tolstoy, Leo. Anna Karenina, trans. Constance Garnett New York: The Modern Library, 1993.

Turgenev, Ivan. Sketches From a Hunter's Album, trans. Richard Freeborn London: Penguin Books, 1990.


Click the button above to view the complete essay, speech, term paper, or research paper

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »







This essay is 100% guaranteed.


Title Length Color Rating  
Trading Salvation for Personal Gratification in Anna Karenina Essay - Trading Salvation for Personal Gratification in Anna Karenina The epigraph of Anna Karenina: "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord," implies that judgment is a theological entitlement  (Romans, 12:19).  Tolstoy uses both social and moral issues to illustrate his characters' attitudes towards religion.  For Oblonsky, Vronsky, and Karenin, religious values are secondary.  Their lives are devoted to establishing a social position and monetary gain.  Levin finds salvation and happiness because they learn to live for something beyond themselves and devote their lives to spreading the goodness of the Lord.  Like Levin, Anna responds to her emotional instincts, but she is hindered by...   [tags: Tolstoy Anna Karenina Essays]
:: 1 Works Cited
1289 words
(3.7 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Regaining Control in Anna Karenina Essay - Regaining Control in Anna Karenina Anna Karenina features significant clusters of scenes, all of which describe notable moments in the development of the novel's major figures. One of the most important clusters is when Anna travels to see Vronsky. On her way her perceptions change; she throws her "searchlight" upon herself. Arriving at the next station she sees the rails and knows what must be done. Anna has had control over her own life taken away from her, due to the societal limitations on her choices as a woman....   [tags: Tolstoy Anna Karenina Essays]
:: 1 Works Cited
2239 words
(6.4 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Foreshadowing in Anna Karenina Essay - Foreshadowing in Anna Karenina Throughout life there are situations which arise that seem to have been hinted earlier. You might not have noticed the hint when it first appeared, but suddenly at one point it finally dawns on you. The same goes for the literary aspect of foreshadowing. The novel Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy has many instances where the situations are similar to the one described above. The following paragraphs will present the foreshadowing that is included in this novel....   [tags: Tolstoy Anna Karenina Essays] 478 words
(1.4 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay about Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy - Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy is a novel about love and marriage among the Russian aristocracy in the 1870s. Anna is young, beautiful woman married to a powerful government minister, Karenin. She falls in love with the elegant Count Vronsky and after becoming pregnant by him, leaves her husband Karenin and her son Seryozha to live with her lover. Despite the intervention of friends such as her brother Oblonsky, an adulterer himself, she is unable to obtain a divorce, and lives isolated from the society that once glorified her....   [tags: Tolstoy Anna Karenina Russian Literature] 1560 words
(4.5 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Themes of Life and Death in Anna Karenina Essay - Themes of Life and Death in Anna Karenina The novel, Anna Karenina, parallels its heroine's, Anna Karenina, moral and social conflicts with Constantin Levin's internal struggle to find the meaning of life. There are many other underlying themes which links the novel as a whole, yet many critics at the time only looked upon its critical view of Russian life. Henry James called Tolstoy's novels as "loose and baggy monsters' of stylessness, but Tolstoy stated of Anna Karenina ".....I am very proud of its architecture--its vaults are joined so that one cannot even notice where the keystone is." That is absolutely correct, because within Anna Karenina, there exists many themes that are all lin...   [tags: Tolstoy Anna Karenina Essays]
:: 1 Works Cited
1344 words
(3.8 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Less Could be More in Anna Karenina Essay - Less Could be More in Anna Karenina Anna Karenina was well-written, with a good plot, and valuable themes. But it fell short in each of these categories, because Tolstoy simply tried to do too much. The language was beautiful but, at times, far too descriptive. The plot was also well written, but tedious and hard to follow in many parts of the book. And the Themes were great and important, but they were many, and at times, not appropriate for this book. The book was great, but it could have said much more, and been better, if Tolstoy had said a little less....   [tags: Tolstoy Anna Karenina Essays] 827 words
(2.4 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on Use Of Indirect Characterization in Anna Karenina - Use Of Indirect Characterization in Anna Karenina          Russian author, Leo Tolstoy, is famous for his novels, among them, Anna Karenina . It is said that Tolstoy reaches "unsurpassed perfection in the realistic art of the novel" with Anna Karenina . In the novel Anna Karenina , Tolstoy leads the reader through Anna Arkadyevna Karenin's life and all the people who surround her. The reader follows Anna as she sorts out a fight between her brother Stepan and his wife Dolly. Next the reader finds themselves trailing Anna as she dances away from a Moscow ball with Count Vronsky's heart....   [tags: Tolstoy Anna Karenina Essays] 897 words
(2.6 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
The Characters of Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina Essay - The Characters of Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina       By examining the character list, one immediately notices the value Tolstoy places on character.  With one hundred and forty named characters and several other unnamed characters,  Tolstoy places his central focus in Anna Karenina on the characters. He uses their actions and behavior to develop the plot and exemplify the major themes of the novel.  Tolstoy wishes to examine life as it really is.  Tolstoy gives us a lifelike representation in Anna Karenina by creating  characters, both major and minor, that contribute to the sense of realism....   [tags: Tolstoy Anna Karenina Essays]
:: 1 Works Cited
1685 words
(4.8 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Essay about Tolstoy's Anna Karenina - Tolstoy's Anna Karenina By examining the character list, one immediately notices the value Tolstoy places on character. With one hundred and forty named characters and several other unnamed characters, Tolstoy places his central focus in Anna Karenina on the characters. He uses their actions and behavior to develop the plot and exemplify the major themes of the novel. In contrast to Flaubert's Madame Bovary, Tolstoy wishes to examine life as it really is. Both novels have relationships and adultery as a central theme....   [tags: Anna Karenina Tolstoy] 1653 words
(4.7 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Tolstoy's Anna Karenina Essay - Tolstoy's Anna Karenina The world of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina is a world ruled by chance. From the very opening chapters, where a watchman is accidentally run over by a train at Moscow's Petersburg station, to the final, climactic scenes of arbitrary destruction when Levin searches for Kitty in a forest beset by lightning, characters are brought together and forced into action against their will by coincidence and, sometimes, misfortune. That Anna and Vronsky ever meet and begin the fateful affair that becomes the centerpiece of the novel is itself a consequence of a long chain of unrelated events: culminating Anna's sharing a berth with Vronsky's mother on her way to reconcile D...   [tags: Tolstoy's Anna Karenina] 3028 words
(8.7 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]