by Leo Tolstoy
Anna Karenina Gender 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.
"No; if so, I should have felt a little, apart from my feeling" (he could not say love before them) "and happiness, a certain regret at losing my freedom.... On the contrary, I am glad at the very loss of my freedom."
"Awful! It's a hopeless case!" said Katavasov. "Well, let's drink to his recovery, or wish that a hundredth part of his dreams may be realized – and that would be happiness such as never has been seen on earth!"
When he was left alone, and recalled the conversation of these bachelor friends, Levin asked himself: had he in his heart that regret for his freedom of which they had spoken? He smiled at the question. "Freedom! What is freedom for? Happiness is only in loving and wishing her wishes, thinking her thoughts, that is to say, not freedom at all–that's happiness!" (5.2.25-29)
During his "bachelor party," Levin's friends warn him of a loss of masculine freedom that comes with marriage, but Levin is so happy to be getting married that he disregards their warnings. He's eager to start a family, thinking that will cure all of his angst. For more on Levin and family, check out his "Character Analysis."
Levin thought of the text, not because he considered himself "wise and prudent." He did not so consider himself, but he could not help knowing that he had more intellect than his wife and Agafea Mihalovna, and he could not help knowing that when he thought of death, he thought with all the force of his intellect. He knew too that the brains of many great men, whose thoughts he had read, had brooded over death and yet knew not a hundredth part of what his wife and Agafea Mihalovna knew about it. Different as those two women were, Agafea Mihalovna and Katya, as his brother Nikolay had called her, and as Levin particularly liked to call her now, they were quite alike in this. Both knew, without a shade of doubt, what sort of thing life was and what was death, and though neither of them could have answered, and would even not have understood the questions that presented themselves to Levin, both had no doubt of the significance of this event, and were precisely alike in their way of looking at it, which they shared with millions of people. The proof that they knew for a certainty the nature of death lay in the fact that they knew without a second of hesitation how to deal with the dying, and were not frightened of them. Levin and other men like him, though they could have said a great deal about death, obviously did not know this since they were afraid of death, and were absolutely at a loss what to do when people were dying. If Levin had been alone now with his brother Nikolay, he would have looked at him with terror, and with still greater terror waited, and would not have known what else to do. (5.19.2)
Levin is astonished that women, whom he considers to be less intelligent, are infinitely better at coping with death and dying. Tolstoy's portrayals of women, and particularly Kitty, seem to indicate that women naturally are care takers, and better at dealing with death, sickness, and children, too. For more on this topic, check out Kitty's "Character Analysis."
Kitty felt a peculiar pleasure in being able now to talk to her mother on equal terms about those questions of such paramount interest in a woman's life. (6.2.30)
During this scene Kitty is asking her mom about how her dad proposed marriage. Now that Kitty is a married woman, she can speak with her mother on more equal footing, and feels as though she has reached another milestone in her womanhood.