Anna Karenina

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Anna Karenina by Mind Map: Anna Karenina

1. Symbols

1.1. Trains

1.2. Vronsky’s racehorse

1.3. Levin and Kitty’s marriage

2. Action Points

2.1. Rising action · Anna meets Vronsky in the train station, initiating an acquaintance that grows into adulterous passion and family upheaval; their consummation of the affair leads to Anna’s abandonment of her husband and son. Meanwhile, Kitty rebuffs Levin’s marriage proposal, prompting him to withdraw to his estate in the country and reflect on the meaning of life.

2.2. Climax · Anna makes a public appearance at the opera, forcing a confrontation between her desire to live life on her own terms and the hostile opinions of St. Petersburg society, which scorns and rejects her; this episode seals her fate as a social outcast and fallen woman. Meanwhile, Levin’s search for meaning is rewarded by marriage to Kitty, stable family life, and an understanding of faith.

2.3. Falling action · Anna commits suicide, unable to bear her lack of social freedom and the jealousy and suspicion arising from her unstable relationship with Vronsky. Meanwhile, Levin continues his new life as enlightened husband, father, and landowner

3. Characters

3.1. Anna Arkadyevna Karenina - A beautiful, aristocratic married woman from St. Petersburg whose pursuit of love and emotional honesty makes her an outcast from society. Anna’s adulterous affair catapults her into social exile, misery, and finally suicide. Anna is a beautiful person in every sense: intelligent and literate, she reads voraciously, writes children’s books, and shows an innate ability to appreciate art. Physically ravishing yet tastefully reserved, she captures the attentions of virtually everyone in high society. Anna believes in love—not only romantic love but family love and friendship as well, as we see from her devotion to her son, her fervent efforts to reconcile Stiva and Dolly Oblonsky in their marital troubles, and her warm reception of Dolly at her country home.

3.2. Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin - Anna’s husband, a high-ranking government minister and one of the most important men in St. Petersburg. Karenin is formal and duty-bound. He is cowed by social convention and constantly presents a flawless façade of a cultivated and capable man. There is something empty about almost everything Karenin does in the novel, however: he reads poetry but has no poetic sentiments, he reads world history but seems remarkably narrow-minded. He cannot be accused of being a poor husband or father, but he shows little tenderness toward his wife, Anna, or his son, Seryozha.

3.3. Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky - A wealthy and dashing military officer whose love for Anna prompts her to desert her husband and son. Vronsky is passionate and caring toward Anna but clearly disappointed when their affair forces him to give up his dreams of career advancement. Vronsky, whom Tolstoy originally modeled on the Romantic heroes of an earlier age of literature, has something of the idealistic loner in him. Yet there is a dark spot at the core of his personality, as if Tolstoy refuses to let us get too close to Vronsky’s true nature. Indeed, Tolstoy gives us far less access to Vronsky’s thoughts than to other major characters in the novel.

4. Themes

4.1. Social change in nineteenth-century Russia

4.2. The blessings of family life

4.3. The philosophical value of farming

5. Problem

5.1. Anna struggles between her passion for Vronsky and her desire for independence on the one hand, and her marital duty, social convention, and maternal love on the other.

5.2. Levin struggles to define his own identity and reach an understanding of faith in an alienating and confusing world.