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Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina


by Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina Compassion and Forgiveness Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Part.Chapter.Paragraph). We used Constance Garnett's translation in the "Quotes" section, but referred to Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky's translation in other parts of the guide.

Quote #1

"Well, what now?" he asked disconsolately.

"Go to her, sir; own your fault again. Maybe God will aid you. She is suffering so, it's sad to see her; and besides, everything in the house is topsy-turvy. You must have pity, sir, on the children. Beg her forgiveness, sir. There's no help for it! One must take the consequences..." (1.2.30-31)

The children's nurse urges Oblonsky to throw himself at his wife's mercy for the sake of the children. Oblonsky eventually agrees, which provides and interesting contrast to Anna's later behavior – she does not save her marriage for the sake of her son.

Quote #2

"But if it is repeated?"

"It cannot be, as I understand it..."

"Yes, but could you forgive it?"

"I don't know, I can't judge.... Yes, I can," said Anna, thinking a moment; and grasping the position in her thought and weighing it in her inner balance, she added: "Yes, I can, I can, I can. Yes, I could forgive it. I could not be the same, no; but I could forgive it, and forgive it as though it had never been, never been at all..."

"Oh, of course," Dolly interposed quickly, as though saying what she had more than once thought, "else it would not be forgiveness. If one forgives, it must be completely, completely. Come, let us go; I'll take you to your room," she said, getting up, and on the way she embraced Anna. "My dear, how glad I am you came. It has made things better, ever so much better." (1.19.50)

Anna argues that she could forgive repeated infidelity, and would forgive it as though it never happened. Dolly replies that that's the only kind of forgiveness there is. But do you believe Anna? Maybe she could forgive Karenin if he were unfaithful to her, since she doesn't love him anyway. But could she forgive Vronsky if he cheated on her? After all, in the last parts of the novel, Anna is consumed with jealousy over Vronsky. What do you think?

Quote #3

"My God! Forgive me!" she said, sobbing, pressing his hands to her bosom.

She felt so sinful, so guilty, that nothing was left her but to humiliate herself and beg forgiveness; and as now there was no one in her life but him, to him she addressed her prayer for forgiveness. Looking at him, she had a physical sense of her humiliation, and she could say nothing more. (2.11.4-5)

After she sleeps with Vronsky, Anna begs God for forgiveness, and then, feeling that there's no one in her life but Vronsky, addresses her plea for forgiveness to him. Why doesn't Anna ask Karenin for forgiveness? Why Vronsky instead?

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