Hanya
Hanya asked:

Was Anna Bi-polar or depressed? In the end when she becomes delusional, was it the opium or depression. How did she go from being this fabulous woman, intelligent, charming, etc. into this hounding, paranoid shrew? I understand her social structure had broken down, but it doesn't explain her descent into madness.

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Julie Gray
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Patricia Estrada The short answer is that women really had no agency.

Anna had to give up everything in order to be with Vronsky, but she needed that which she gave up in order to be with him in the legitimate way that she wanted to be. A lot of this was due to Karenin being petty by blackmailing her with Seryosha and then refusing to grant her the divorce because he knew this would isolate her. Without being able to establish herself as Vronsky's wife, she had no "claim" to him and he had all the power due to how society was structured (women not being able to work, especially of her class). She knew that he could leave at any moment for a legitimate bride like Sorokino (and social forces were pressuring him to do just that) and then she would be SOL, effectively.

It's also meant to be an allegorical tale. Like it or not, Toltstoy has a moralizing agenda and oftentimes dichotomous portrayal of women in most of his works and it's not exactly going to serve it well if Anna goes off and continues on her merry way with Vronsky.
Colleen I believe the guilt of choosing to leave her son explains her descent into madness!
Judy For years I thought she was just profoundly lonely, and angry that Vronsky was able to live his life and she was shunned by society because she had left her family. She wanted to live life on her own terms, but was wracked with guilt, and this guilt led to a horrible self-loathing. The self-loathing she then projected onto other people -- Karenin, society, and eventually even Vronsky himself. But my last reading of it had me thinking her opium addiction greatly exacerbated all these things, thus the descent into despair and suicide.
Stacey I think Anna was a very self centered person and liked to be the center of attention. Her social circle was what defined her, gave her purpose, etc. She thought her love for Vronsky would fill that need and was willing to give it up, but ultimately it was her undoing. Also, her depression would only be intensified by the opium.
Terry Candee I believe it was the opium causing hallucinations and paranoia
Kevin Varney I don't think it was the opium, although I am not a medical man. I wondered whether she was mentally ill. I wonder what a psychiatrist would say.
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