Theme and Undertones of Love in Anna Karenina

August 29, 2022 by Essay Writer

Anna Karenina is one of Leo Tolstoy’s most famous novels, it begins with a phrase that became an aphorism: ‘All happy families resemble one another each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way’ (1). This is a book that vividly depicts the eternal values of love, family, faith and human dignity. In the book Anna Karenina is the main character, a beautiful woman with a husband and adored son who possesses status in society and wealth. In the beginning, she has strong personal beliefs of what constitutes right and wrong and a keen sense of justice. These closely held principles and values that are deeply ingrained in her personal character will abruptly change when she meets the Officer Count Vronsky when she arrives in Moscow. She travels there with her brothers’ request to attempt to convince his wife Dolly to forgive him. She was warned by her husband about trying to fix the personal problems of others, but Anna ignores the warnings and leaves anyway, leaving behind her son Serezha who didn’t want her to go either. Soon after this fateful meeting with Count Vronsky she loses her sense of moral bearing and rejects her marriage and turns to Vronsky to fulfill her passionate nature with devastating results.

At its core Anna Karenina is a love story. Tolstoy brings the theme of love to life in his writing in all of its yearning, blissful, and heartbreaking aspects. He creates in detail warm and comforting images of family and romantic love and merciless heartache from love lost. Love is portrayed by the writer in this book in all its power, but in the end, love is not enough to sustain. Tolstoy renders through excruciating images of pain, rejection, and loss hardships that every reader can understand and identify with. His writing is emotionally charged and floods the reader with feelings of sympathy and empathy for the characters facing a multitude of personal hardships. Tolstoy’s writing is so captivating that readers are consumed with finding out what happens next in the story and are often slow to appreciate the depth of the tragedies his characters suffer. He brings to life the personal impact and cost of marital disintegration on the couple involved, their children, extended family, friends and the society in which they live. The characters are realistically portrayed through their thoughts, actions and decision making clearly illustrating all of the best and worst in human nature leading the heroine to her eventful demise. Tolstoy leaves his readers with a painful understanding of heartbreak and loss through passages of unreciprocated love and death.

While reading this book the reader goes through a continuously changing set of emotions and impressions of the characters. At some moments one can come to feel love or hate towards the characters or be ashamed for the characters. But Tolstoy’s writing makes this all feel natural and enables the reader to experience the morphing of their feelings with each of the characters. It is fair to say that Tolstoy certainly was successful in making his readers care about all of his characters, and very fair to say this book was written by a man who was infinitely knowledgeable of human nature and profoundly in love with life. Grandmother’s words that her sweet little girl should read this book by the ‘fat lion’ when the time is right, rang true. To appreciate all aspects of this literary masterpiece readers must have their adolescent years behind them with the beginnings of an understanding of human nature and life’s hardships, and of the driving forces behind interactions within society.


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