Faminism in Anna Karenina

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  • Topic: Marriage, Anna Karenina, Love
  • Pages : 2 (873 words )
  • Download(s) : 28
  • Published : April 23, 2013
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In the closing chapters of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina (Penguin Books, 2003), Dolly, Anna’s sister-in-law, reveals that “Whatever way one lives, there’s a penalty.” This is the central message in Tolstoy’s work, a tragedy whose themes include aristocracy, faith, hypocrisy, love, marriage, family, infidelity, greed, and every other issue prevalent among human beings. Anna Karenina is a tragic figure, but she can also be considered a feminist one. Her experiences resonate with female readers because she does the unexpected: she moves against the grain. And with any woman—at least in literature—who accomplishes the unexpected, the inappropriate, she pays the price for it. A Princess, an aristocrat married to Count Alexei Karenin, an important man twenty years her senior, Anna Karenina is a socialite, a respected woman, a wife, and a mother. It seems as if she has it all, until she meets the handsome and charming young Count Alexei Vronsky. He stirs things in her—physical and emotional—that she has never experienced. This lack of experience in the spaces of love and desire is common—historically—for women. They married who they were told to marry—for money, for titles, and for security. Not for love. Anna Karenina is not in love with her husband. She tolerates him, but secretly she feels repulsed by this rigid, domineering, and paternal man twice her age. Vronsky’s wooing of her endanger s her place in society, her marriage, and even her role as mother. When she succumbs to an affair with him, she does so with open eyes, aware of all that she is sacrificing for the sake of love. And this isn’t the tragedy of the novel, of the situation. The tragedy is that she is a woman in a man’s world: “It was fate; she was doomed” from the start. And she was doomed because she was a woman acting out on her desires. Paralleled to her brother, Stiva, and his insuppressible and known womanizing, the novel demonstrates the evident attitudes society had at this time toward men and...
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