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30 Day Book Challenge: Book I’ve Read the Most Number of Times  

Anna Karenina is a novel embedded with several different themes and morals. It is nearly impossible to read without noticing both theimplicit and explicit misogyny throughout the text. The plots of the novel are directly related to the way human relationships function or fail to function within the constraints of societal expectations altered along gender lines which are heavily influenced by patriarchy. Problems occur when those expectations are altered and people’s lives are influenced by the judgments of others.

 What makes Anna Karenina a statement about relationships of men and women is the idea that much of what occurs between and among its characters represents the oppression of women in heterosexual relationships at the time it was written. In the case of the marriage of Alexei Alexandrovich and Anna; they can be viewed as unique because of their particular personalities, class status, and the ways in which the two of them react to the world around them. But, their marriage is similar to many others in upper class Russian society because it has been arranged for them. In this way the roles of husband and wife are performed for a public audience. Alexei is the husband and provider, meeting all his duties as the man of the house. Where there is a lack of love on both sides, there is no lack of pride in a public setting experienced by Alexei for the beauty and admiration Anna receives from everyone, Anna knows that her husband only relies on her to perpetuate his self-image of the successful, intelligent, and lucky man who possesses it all, including the wife everyone else wishes to have. But having no personal relationship with a spouse and detecting no emotion or appreciation year after year becomes stressful for a passionate women like Anna. When a woman realizes the world holds other possibilities and true passion is with in her reach she may consider reevaluating her situation.

Anna Karenina makes a choice between her husband and lover. Perhaps she sought love, happiness, freedom, or change. What she finds is more pain and oppression coming from other sources. As a woman no matter which man Anna chooses, she will never truly be her own independent person. She must always depend on a man for financial security and social standing.  The feelings of imprisonment she feels in Alexei’s home as a wife have also continued with Vronsky. Leaving her husband’s home with her lover brings shame to her name; she can no longer present herself in society. When she decides to rebel against the constraints the world has made for her because she cannot live as freely as a man, she decides to go to the theater where she is shunned by Mme Kartasov. Ironically, patriarchy has the power to make women oppress each other.

Anna is frustrated with her position in society, while Vronsky continues to prosper. He makes her situation worse by telling her she must conform to her new life when he is partially to blame for her condemnation. He doesn’t see that she is being forced into new imprisonment for something they both did.  After attending the theater Anna tells Vronsky, ‘You’re to blame for it all.’ If Anna had resisted her attraction to Vronsky she would not be his mistress, he should never had pursued her. But is her treatment and new societal standing really warranted?  She is not necessarily the shamed women society depicts her to be.  She has not been with several men. If she feels shame it is due to  her own guilt.  Anna expresses real passion and feelings for Vronsky that should be forgiven, as Alexei comes to realize.

Vronsky is a man who is liked by many people as opposed to Alexandrovich.  But, Vronsky does do several things thinking only of himself. Having led Kitty, Anna’s young a young sweet aristocrat, to think he would marry her for his own pleasure had been cruel. Even worse, if he really loved Anna he would not have allowed her to leave her husband and disgrace her name. With his money, social standing, and most importantly, gender, Vronsky is well aware his life will not be much altered socially by an out-of wedlock relationship. He claims to feel guilt for Anna’s position, yet never considers what he can do to help her. In fact, he goes as far as to say he won’t discontinue his “male activities” for her. Anna knows that her situation will continue to deteriorate; she can never live a normal life again.

A woman who was once loved and admired by every person she came in contact with is detained indoors alone where she must remain. Anna takes opium and morphine to numb the pain she experiences. She is confused and almost living in an alternate reality. Each time Vronsky leaves; she is alone, feeling abandoned by the person who caused her life to change, the only one she has left. Other women who have conformed to the ways of patriarchy are able to meet with and flirt with Vronsky in public, furthering Anna’s misery.  Her mind becomes clouded with drugs and depression takes over, convincing her life is hopeless.

In many ways, her situation is hopeless. As she considers where she might go if she leaves Vronsky, the reader realizes along with her that Anna will never be truly happy with or without him. Her life has been ruined because she wanted to be free, something Victorian women cannot be.

Much of Anna Karenina indicates that male-female relationships are extremely difficult, but society is what truly makes people miserable. It’s one thing to allow individuals to make choices in life, it’s another to decide their fate for them in a public sphere.  Keeping men and women divided by basic rights and societal access creates a barrier that would not otherwise exist and allows for people’s private lives to be dictated by the public. The novel is true to life in the sense that all actions have consequences and life is not always fair, especially for women.  Though the reader may sympathize with Anna for her hopeless situation at the end of her life, she makes her own decisions publicly, knowing what will become of her. Ultimately we must all live and eventually die with the choices we have made and so does Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina is a novel embedded with several different themes and morals. It is nearly impossible to read without noticing both the implicit and explicit misogyny throughout the text.  The plots of the novel are directly related to the way human relationships function or fail to function within the constraints of societal expectations altered along gender lines which are heavily influenced by patriarchy. Problems occur when those expectations are altered and people’s lives are influenced by the judgments of others

What makes Anna Karenina a statement about relationships of men and women is the idea that much of what occurs between and among its characters represents the oppression of women in heterosexual relationships at the time it was written. In the case of the marriage of Alexei Alexandrovich and Anna; they can be viewed as unique because of their particular personalities, class status, and the ways in which the two of them react to the world around them. But, their marriage is similar to many others in upper class Russian society because it has been arranged for them. In this way the roles of husband and wife are performed for a public audience. Alexei is the husband and provider, meeting all his duties as the man of the house. Where there is a lack of love on both sides, there is no lack of pride in a public setting experienced by Alexei for the beauty and admiration Anna receives from everyone, Anna knows that her husband only relies on her to perpetuate his self-image of the successful, intelligent, and lucky man who possesses it all, including the wife everyone else wishes to have. But having no personal relationship with a spouse and detecting no emotion or appreciation year after year becomes stressful for a passionate women like Anna. When a woman realizes the world holds other possibilities and true passion is with in her reach she may consider reevaluating her situation.

Anna Karenina makes a choice between her husband and lover. Perhaps she sought love, happiness, freedom, or change. What she finds is more pain and oppression coming from other sources. As a woman no matter which man Anna chooses, she will never truly be her own independent person. She must always depend on a man for financial security and social standing.  The feelings of imprisonment she feels in Alexei’s home as a wife have also continued with Vronsky. Leaving her husband’s home with her lover brings shame to her name; she can no longer present herself in society. When she decides to rebel against the constraints the world has made for her because she cannot live as freely as a man, she decides to go to the theater where she is shunned by Mme Kartasov. Ironically, patriarchy has the power to make women oppress each other.

Anna is frustrated with her position in society, while Vronsky continues to prosper. He makes her situation worse by telling her she must conform to her new life when he is partially to blame for her condemnation. He doesn’t see that she is being forced into new imprisonment for something they both did.  After attending the theater Anna tells Vronsky, ‘You’re to blame for it all.’ If Anna had resisted her attraction to Vronsky she would not be his mistress, he should never had pursued her. But is her treatment and new societal standing really warranted?  She is not necessarily the shamed women society depicts her to be.  She has not been with several men. If she feels shame it is due to  her own guilt.  Anna expresses real passion and feelings for Vronsky that should be forgiven, as Alexei comes to realize.

Vronsky is a man who is liked by many people as opposed to Alexandrovich.  But, Vronsky does do several things thinking only of himself.  Having led Kitty to think he would marry her for his own pleasure had been cruel. Even worse, if he really loved Anna he would not have allowed her to leave her husband and disgrace her name. With his money, social standing, and most importantly, gender, Vronsky is well aware his life will not be much altered socially by an out-of wedlock relationship. He claims to feel guilt for Anna’s position, yet never considers what he can do to help her. In fact, he goes as far as to say he won’t discontinue his “male activities” for her. Anna knows that her situation will continue to deteriorate; she can never live a normal life again.

A woman who was once loved and admired by every person she came in contact with is detained indoors alone where she must remain. Anna takes opium and morphine to numb the pain she experiences. She is confused and almost living in an alternate reality. Each time Vronsky leaves; she is alone, feeling abandoned by the person who caused her life to change, the only one she has left. Other women who have conformed to the ways of patriarchy are able to meet with and flirt with Vronsky in public, furthering Anna’s misery.  Her mind becomes clouded with drugs and depression takes over, convincing her life is hopeless.

In many ways, her situation is hopeless. As she considers where she might go if she leaves Vronsky, the reader realizes along with her that Anna will never be truly happy with or without him. Her life has been ruined because she wanted to be free, something Victorian women cannot be.

Much of Anna Karenina indicates that male-female relationships are extremely difficult, but society is what truly makes people miserable. It’s one thing to allow individuals to make choices in life, it’s another to decide their fate for them in a public sphere.  Keeping men and women divided by basic rights and societal access creates a barrier that would not otherwise exist and allows for people’s private lives to be dictated by the public. The novel is true to life in the sense that all actions have consequences and life is not always fair, especially for women.  Though the reader may sympathize with Anna for her hopeless situation at the end of her life, she makes her own decisions publicly, knowing what will become of her. Ultimately we must all live and eventually die with the choices we have made and so does Anna Karenina.

Final Rating: 5 out 5 Stars

For more information:

About the author: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_Tolstoy

Film- The Last Station(2009) is about his adult life http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Station

http://www.oprah.com/oprahsbookclub/Your-Guide-to-Understanding-Tolstoys-Anna-Karenina