Anna Karenina Anna Karenina discussion


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Did anyone else absolutely loathe Anna?

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message 1: by Ian (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ian As one of the reviewers mentioned, Tolstoy has a way of presenting a character in a disagreeable light and then later showing us their point of view. With Anna, however, I just could not follow her with any real sympathy. First, the way she suddenly became disgusted by Karenin and could not even bear to be in the room with him and her later development of extreme jealousy of Vronsky aggravated me. She seemed like a capricious child throughout, giving absolute control over to her emotions and then lamenting the consequences of her actions. Could anyone support me or show me how Anna could be loved for herself?


message 2: by Al (new) - rated it 5 stars

Al I loved Anna. I was disappointed in her... like watching your friend make really stupid life-decisions... But, I read that Tolstoy himself did not like Anna. He origonally wrote her as fat and selfish.


Alison Great description! A friend that you are watching make stupid decisions. I completely agree with that. In the end I didn't feel sorry for her, because I feel she chose to be miserable.


message 4: by Al (new) - rated it 5 stars

Al Oh, I felt sorry for her. In fact the last few chapters took me FOREVER to read, because I knew what was going to happen. I hated what happened to Anna (both emotionally and her ending), but the character who I strongly disliked was Vronsky. I hold him accountable for Anna's dismise, and for allowing his life to continue as usual while her's crumbled.


Luca Yes. I thought she was shallow. Much preferred Levin & Kitty.


message 6: by Jacqueline (new)

Jacqueline George I'm sorry, but I can not abide women who let themselves be pushed around so much by society and the moralists of the day. Tess of the D'Ubervilles, is another, and The French Lieutenant's Woman...

I keep wanting to give them a good shaking and say "Stand up for yourself, girl!" A lot easier in our modern society, of course, but surely they could have had more pride.

Tolstoy did not have a high opinion of women in general, and I can not recall him writing a sympathetic portrait of a strong, independent woman (please correct me here if I'm wrong).


Linda I also felt sorry for her, but she brought it all upon herself. The end was depressing. I liked Levin and Kitty better as well.


Lauren I found Anna very frustrating and confusing and yet, she was probably one of the best characters I have encountered. There were times when I was infatuated with her (i.e. when she first meets Vronsky at the ball) and so very interested in who she was and what she was like. As I went on, I was increasingly disappointed with her. I did not like how she treated her husband and I was very upset when she left Seryozha to be with Vronsky. Not too long after she breaks away and is with Vronsky, the reader finds him/herself yet again with an unsatisfied Anna. After completing the book, I felt sad that she did what she did but I wonder what else she would have done. She was so mercurial and emotional and there was no sign of dramatic improvement in her situation. I also preferred Levin and Kitty. I absolutely loved Levin actually - strong, silent type. He was wonderful.


message 9: by Amanda (last edited Jul 29, 2008 08:19AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Amanda Perhaps one of the reason that Anna is so hard to like is that she only defines herself in relation to other people. Wife to a husband. Mother to a son. Lover to Vronsky. Who was Anna? What did she like? What were her passions (besides men)? Did she respect herself or know anything about her own likes/dislike? She seemed to live a completely unexamined life, and in the end felt she had nothing to live for when her lover withdrew.

Didn't Vronsky say that while Anna seemed only to have him to care for, he had many friends and many interests and responsibilities. Adults usually do. Anna was an eternal child, wanting gratification, indulgence, entertainment. In the end she had nothing, not even the strength of will to start over. Anna didn't have the strength of will or self-love that Nora in A Doll's House had to start again.


message 10: by Kate (new)

Kate Oh thank goodness for this thread - I'm only about half finished and I keep wondering why I'm even bothering...I'm so frustrated to follow the tale of a woman who has neither the gumption (nor the desire, it seems) to set her own course in life.

I agree with the fact that Anna is quite flat - I have no attachments to her other than those which the rest of the characters project on her, for me, this is like hearing gossip about a friend of a friend, I have no investment in her and can only sympathize so much before I'm fed up with her lack of strength.


message 11: by Shatterlings (new)

Shatterlings i didnt like her and she doesnt seem to ever think about what she is doing, she just does it. even her suicide just seems to be done in a little tantrum with no thought about her children.


message 12: by Tyler (last edited Sep 02, 2008 10:08AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Tyler Hi Ian --

She seemed like a capricious child throughout, giving absolute control over to her emotions...

Tolstoy's characterization of Anna was meant to show readers what nihilism leads to. While no longer a subject of much concern today, nihilism fascinated Russians in the 1860's and '70's. So ...

Could anyone support me or show me how Anna could be loved for herself?

Nihilism is the opposite of the fear of God, so Tolstoy is saying that without God, there is no way to find anything within Anna to love.

This is a problem with Anna Karenina. Tolstoy is building characters out of ideas, and this falls flat. Kitty (Katya), for example, is Tolstoy's idea of perfect, Godly virtue. But after hundreds of pages of hearing just how perfect Kitty is, her character gets mighty old.

What bothered me more about this book is that Tolstoy constantly disturbs his narrative to weave some ideological point into it, and it gets really obvious. The author interrupts the flow of his own story, so the story never gets a chance to breathe.

I won't even get into all the other problems of the book. But because the only possible good thing in Anna Karenina is the prose, these interruptions made it impossible for me to like the book.




Cathy I loved Anna Karenina, and I thought that Anna described in many ways her own frustrations and emotions. She was torn: she was unhappy; she was happy; she loved her son; she loved Vronsky; she was jealous; she was paranoid. Her death description is haunting to me -- how as soon as she jumped, she regretted it but it was too late.

Because we live in a world where women have much more freedom, it doesn't mean that we can translate those feelings to women of different ages or cultures. If I were to get pregnant by a lover and leave my husband, it would be damaging to me and to him; but to society, it would mostly be unnoticed. It was quite different in her day and place.

Of course she and Vronsky brought the situation upon themselves. But her decision to leave her son was torment; at least this is how I felt as I read--as a mother it would be unthinkable. And when Anna visited him on his "name-day" I cried.

Besides, Anna Karenina is a banned book, and how can you hate a banned book? It makes it yummier.


message 14: by Wendy (new) - rated it 1 star

Wendy Did no one notice that Anna was not loved by her husband? I cannot condone what she did, but it didn't surprise me that she became dissatisfied with her husband when compared with Vronsky's passion for her. And when confronted with the facts, all her husband tried to do was save face. He never tried to heal his marriage.

Tyler, bravo to you for your post. You managed to put perfect words to my greatest frustration with the book: "Tolstoy constantly disturbs his narrative to weave some ideological point into it, and it gets really obvious. The author interrupts the flow of his own story, so the story never gets a chance to breathe."


message 15: by Jaz (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jaz I loathed Anna from the start. I found her to be essentially a selfish person. Her actions are typical and dishonest. She makes it easy to see the other characters in such a positive way. I also think that if it was not so easy to hate Anna in this book, it would be harder to fall in love with characters like Kitty and Levin. The story seems to wrap around their love interests just as much as it does Anna's personal destruction.


Grace Al wrote: "Oh, I felt sorry for her. In fact the last few chapters took me FOREVER to read, because I knew what was going to happen. I hated what happened to Anna (both emotionally and her ending), but the ..."

Very good point. I mostly hold Vronsky accountable too. I didn't LOVE Anna, but she was certainly not as bad as Levin who went on and on about farming methods and how he didn't understand politics. Anna was probably the best character.


Lady Jane Anna is just the painting of a tragedy incarnate. She is not of her time, and hence she is trapped in the prison of society. I was on the train when I read the part of her suicide, and even there I could not help but shed tears of despair for her (discreetly, of course-- I did not show emotion, only I could not hold back my tears, even on the train).


A Miuda Geek I read it a few months back and the recolections that i have are that Anna started vivavious, alive, carefree, and confortable while in a loveless marriage. Then she met Vronsky and she had a few moments of happiness alongside him, while Karenin wasn´t on the them from the time that Karenin confronted her until de very end, she met no hapiness, at all.

I cried reading her description of the time when she left Sergei, when she went to visit him on his birthday; i thought that she was selfish and inprudent when she went away with Vronsky to travel around the world, not caring for her son and not really loving her daughter - she never felt any sort of attachment to her: the child was utterly neglected; i was despairing when she started to be sickly jealous of Vronksy and the life that he took back, when they returned to Russia and she felt neglected at home, feeling alone and conjuring all ghosts to torment her.

Anna, to me, is very human, even though i don´t condonne with all of her tantrums and certainly i wish i could say to her "hey, you chose this - get the best you can out of it!".
Bottom line, she chose what she thought was hapiness and a man that she loves and loved her back - it was a mistake, altogether: Vronsky did not love her and i think that maybe she got in love with the idea of love, since she didn´t knew what emotions were, because she was in a loveless marriage, an arranged one.

Vronky was immature and what started as an infatuation developed in to something that he was not prepared for and later on, he must have regreted getting involved with her and in all of her mistique, but it was already too late and too many strings attached to it.

I love it to bits although a bit descriptional at times - and like someone said earlier: Tolstoy tried to convey some ideological bits in to it. Would like to see the story of Dolly developed a bit more.


Rachael I wanted to hate her, and there were moments when I did. The magic of Tolstoy's writing her was that he loved her, even though he wanted to hate her. Initialy, looking at her as a person, there was nothing noteworthy or even passibly likable about her. As the story progresses, however, the sense that we know about her but we don't really know her, even the sense that she doesn't really know herself pervades.


A Miuda Geek Yes, she did not knew herself and while at first, in the begining of the book she comes across as a very confident, self-assured woman, that starts to fade when she steps out of the "confort" of her reality and starts to live off of her emotions: then we perceive that the life that she had been living up until then it was just a façade and she was not confident - just numbed. But, after that, she does not make any effort to try to know her a bit more - she just reacts the best she can within the circumstances of the moment and not try to make her own path in life. In the end, she got so utterly surpassed by all the events that the on,ly way she knew how to end the pain was to commite suicide.

I did not hate her, at all; she had atitudes that left my skin crawling but i felt that Tolstoy made her very human - not always wrong and not always right.


Neena Maria wrote: "I read it a few months back and the recolections that i have are that Anna started vivavious, alive, carefree, and confortable while in a loveless marriage. Then she met Vronsky and she had a few m..."

just want to say you said very well....exactly my thoughts:)


Amicus (David Barnett) Poor Anna.


A Miuda Geek Neena wrote: "Maria wrote: "I read it a few months back and the recolections that i have are that Anna started vivavious, alive, carefree, and confortable while in a loveless marriage. Then she met Vronsky and s..."

Thank you.


message 24: by Aziz (new) - rated it 3 stars

Aziz i totally hated her and loved Kitty.


A Miuda Geek Kitty did not hold my attention one bit - she had a broken heart, she sulked and then settled for the next best thing: a man that really loved her for what she was and had waited for her to weanne herself of Vronsky - end of story.


Karen I didn't actually loathe Anna, but she was dim, shallow, uninteresting and totally out of touch with reality. Levin, of course, is my favorite character from the book.


A Miuda Geek Levin? urgh what a dull character he was: Tolstoy inpersonated on him all of the emergin ideas of Industrial Revolution, new thinking, the new age really and he was very, but very boring with his rants about farming, and eficiency etc.

One story line i would have liked for Tolstoy to develop was Stiva and Dolly.


message 28: by Aziz (last edited Feb 11, 2012 11:41PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Aziz Maria wrote: "Levin? urgh what a dull character he was: Tolstoy inpersonated on him all of the emergin ideas of Industrial Revolution, new thinking, the new age really and he was very, but very boring with his r..." well, i agree with u, but sometimes we like people for the struggle they live, i think ,,, how about Kitty? :)


message 29: by Aziz (new) - rated it 3 stars

Aziz Aziz wrote: "Maria wrote: "Levin? urgh what a dull character he was: Tolstoy inpersonated on him all of the emergin ideas of Industrial Revolution, new thinking, the new age really and he was very, but very bor..."

ohh i just realised tht u'v mentioned Kitty in previous comments .


A Miuda Geek Aziz wrote: "Aziz wrote: "Maria wrote: "Levin? urgh what a dull character he was: Tolstoy inpersonated on him all of the emergin ideas of Industrial Revolution, new thinking, the new age really and he was very,..."

No probs - i just think that in Levin Tolstoy really pushed and shoved all of his ideas, even political ones to readers and KLitty to me, holds really no charms, whatsoever....but not all people have to like the same thing, yes? No problems come from there and we can always agree to disagree....


message 31: by Aziz (last edited Feb 12, 2012 11:54AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Aziz Maria , yeah ur right , wut i like about Kitty is that i have had almost the same of her experience specificly wen she's started to take care of the sick and poor people in her visit abroad that gave her self-releif. but so far i didn't find like the "perfect character" maybe bcoz im still now on pages 507, im pretty sure there won't be main characters still to come however.
lots of plots in AK is wut confuses me ,
and Russian people were envious and mean at the time " at least how Tolstoy portrayed most of the characters" ..



A Miuda Geek Aziz, there are no other main characters to appear, by the page that you are on - but as there are no perfect human beings, so fictional characters, the good tri-dimensional one´s are not perfect at all; they are flawed and that is wonderfull - nothing more dull and tedious then cardboard cut-ot characters!

You like Kitty because, at some level, you can relate to her - i like some points of Anna because i can relate to her and i also like some things about Dolly because she also has some touching-points with me - so, you see, it´s very similar to you. Since you haven´t finished yet, i will not give spoilers out - when you finish, take a peek at my review of it and see what you make of it - if you agree or not: i wrotte it a few monts later after reading it and maybe i got some points wrong.


Holly I didn't loathe her I believe she was just very unhappy with herself. I think she seems whiny because Tolstoy gave us access to all of her thoughts as she is thinking them.


Jennifer Boettcher I don't like or dislike Anna. I've been building in my mind a list of characters like her..

Anna Karenina
Tess of D'Uberville
Madame Bovary
Revolutionary Road (April Wheeler)
to name a few.

As an emotional reader, it is difficult to detatch my personal feelings about the characters from a potentially larger picture. I think there is a good thesis buried in these women about gender, opportunity, happiness and the society we live in.

I would contrast them with Scarlett O'Hara and maybe Lady Chatterley.

All of these women, had no good choices available. How could they have pursued a happy and fufilling life within the society they lived in? So in that sense, I feel terrible for them. And why do authors always seem to kill them? As if to punish them for their poor choices. Men typically do not get the same treatment in literature.


Alison I couldn't stand Anna. I found the description of her as "a capricious child" to be very true and, to be quite candid, by the time she finally got around to killing herself I thought it was about time! Throughout the book I was sick of her flirting and taunting just to see the reactions she could get out of other people. At times she was downright mean (flirting with a man she knew had feelings for her even though she had no interest in him) and I didn't see a reason for any of that.

When she regretted throwing herself in front of the train at the last second I thought "Good! That's what you get for making hasty decisions without thinking them through!" Not to mention her total lack of consideration for the effect her suicide might have on OTHER PEOPLE! She was so self-centered throughout the whole book that I just wanted to strangle her!


message 36: by A Miuda Geek (last edited Feb 26, 2012 09:58AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

A Miuda Geek Tolstoy did not make easy characters for us to love...Anna was very self-centered, for sure, but i think it was because she was awake by the misery in her life, the lack of emotions that happened throughout the majority of her adult life and she wanted to persue happiness at all costs, all of the time not recognizing that hapiness is but fleeting moments and that´s what makes it special - happiness all the time would become usual and not special.


EllaP Tolstoy at the greatest,, Anna will remain number one book in the classic literature,,


EllaP Jennifer wrote: "I don't like or dislike Anna. I've been building in my mind a list of characters like her..

Anna Karenina
Tess of D'Uberville
Madame Bovary
Revolutionary Road (April Wheeler)
to name a few...."
Madam Bovary and Anna Karenina so different charachters


A Miuda Geek I am reading Revolutionary Road and to this point - page 78 - i haven´t seen any similarity between April and Anna - i might have to read all the way through to see if this assessment is right. But for now, nothing.


message 40: by Aziz (new) - rated it 3 stars

Aziz Kevin Spacey in " the life of David Gale " somehow resembles Anna, in a way tht both chosen death as a result of wrong conduct..


Michelle No, Anna wasn't a bad person, just in a bad situation, in a society that gave women absolutely NO rights, in a society where women were treated as "less than human". Men were ALWAYS doing selfish things, emotional things (like having mistresses and going to visit prostitutes) with little or no consequences, but the second a woman does a similar thing, *gasp* - she's no longer able to see her child and cast out of society by her friends... Her husband was the true egocentric. Really, keep the child from her? Tell the child she's dead? Simply because his pride was hurt... and he never even stopped to think about how he was hurting his child. A true narcissist he was... out to destroy anyone else's love cuz he was incapable of it himself.


Michelle had men been forced to tolerate their wives cheating - as women were forced to tolerate their husbands cheating... Would Anna still be alive? Would she have been separated from her child? I mean, THIS is what I thought Tolstoy was getting at and making a point about, until I read his essay on women and whether we deserve rights... Yikes!


EllaP Michelle wrote: "had men been forced to tolerate their wives cheating - as women were forced to tolerate their husbands cheating... Would Anna still be alive? Would she have been separated from her child? I mean, T..."

Absolutly we (women) deserve rights to custody of the children we bear and raise. Eventhough Anna has beauty, social possition, a wealthy husband she will pursue her passsionate nature and will reject and empty existence. I think Tolstoy is a master when it comes to give a panorama of personal conflicts,he does not make a point..he wants us to have a wider perception of human drama


Jennifer Boettcher Ella wrote: "Jennifer wrote: "I don't like or dislike Anna. I've been building in my mind a list of characters like her..

Anna Karenina
Tess of D'Uberville
Madame Bovary
Revolutionary Road (April Wheeler..."


They are, I think the similarity is in their fate. Perhaps a better comparison for Anna would be Scarlett O'Hara. I didn't add her, because she wasn't axed at the end of her novel (created by a woman..?) As we read these novels today, many dislike both of these characters. I understand, neither one strike me as friend material, but given their choices, their situations - what would the better choice have been? To live a life only for others? To never pursue their own desires or security(in Scarlett's case)?

Let me throw another one out there. Jane Eyre. Rothschild is one of those heartthrobs of English lit. The tortured brooder. But really? He kept his crazy wife locked up in an attic! And he chose to endanger his "love" Jane so he could bed her. Completely selfsish and almost never questioned. (I know Rothschild has been addressed by Jean Rhys in Wide Sargossa Sea at least)

I really feel the way we understand these characters, all characters,reflect upon the way we view ourselves and what women should be.


A Miuda Geek Jennifer - it´s Rochester, from Jane Eyre.

As for comparing Anna to Scarlett...i beg to disagree: Scarlett made her own way, struggled through hunger, war, deprivation and she rose thought the latter, re-gaoned her social status (or money, that to her was the same) and she made the choices she had to: she chose to marry her 2nd husband because she knew she could manipulate him and had more wits for business; she did not took Ashley because he refused, but either, she would have gotten him - lock, stock and bottom; she chose to meet Rhett when she had to pay the taxes over Tara and later she married him,for security. She was not one to be runned down by adversity - she kicked and screamed along the way.
The death of her daughter and the consequent leave of Rhett brought to her attention that she actually loved him, even though she always said otherwise.

Now Anna - she lived a sterile existence with Karenin; she did not know emotions even if they kicked her in the rear end and when the most desirable young man of the Moscow society took a fancy to her, her whole world of certainties collapsed and she started to live off the emotions, wanting more and more to the point of obcession with him: he could not leave the house for 2 secs that she would frantand thnk that he hadlovers everywhere. I don´t mean to condone with the ideas of the time or those of Tolstoy - he was a man of his time - and women had no rights whatsoever, and if they comitted adultery then they would stand to loose everything and become strangers to all. Anna did not choose for herself - she was forced to choose or rather the circumstances forced her, or made it impossible for her not to take that direction, but she chose Vronsky almost kicking and screaming,not free-willing, and flowy and in love as she was - she went with him to Venice because she had no alternative: everyone knew what was going on,Karenin was on the to themand she was almost forced to go along and playu the innocent lovers.


message 46: by [deleted user] (new)

Nope, I enjoyed it. Would reread it.


message 47: by [deleted user] (new)

Ugh. Anna. I thought she was whiny, and by the end of the book I was sick of her, and her always starting arguments with Vronsky and than blaming him. All in all, I felt bad for Vronsky. I was actually quite happy when she died, but dissapointed that I had spent all my time reading for an ending like that.


Ivana Al wrote: "I loved Anna. I was disappointed in her... But, I read that Tolstoy himself did not like Anna. He origonally wrote her as fat and se..."
It is not truth that Tolstoy did not like Anna. In his wife`s diary we can see that Tolstoy never wanted us to judge Anna. He wanted us to see a desperate woman who`s making bad decisions and who we should feel sorry for.


Camille I hated her in the very end. I couldn`t stand her whiny complainy attitude. In the end I still hated the fact that she (view spoiler) . It made me so mad.....


Patricia Anna cannot be viewed with 21stC sensibilities.

She was a woman of her time, late 1870's, and forced to behave as such.

She had no possibility of fulfillment with Karenin and took a big chance with the charismatic Vronsky. She loved her children, so ending her "shameless life" was the only way to insure they were not social pariahs.

That such vehemence is expressed over a central character only shows how very well Tolstoy articulated his character.


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