by Leo Tolstoy
Anna Karenina Theme of Jealousy
Anna, the leading lady of Anna Karenina goes mad with jealousy as a result of isolation and guilt: having committed adultery, she can't seem to believe that anyone would be faithful to her. She becomes absolutely incapable of trusting her lover, Vronsky, which in turn drives him further away. Her husband Karenin is initially not prone to jealousy, because he thinks of Anna mainly as a cog in the clockwork that is his life. He doesn't think of her as an individual. His jealousy of her only really emerges once 1) she stops obeying him, and 2) everyone in Petersburg society knows about her affair. We can contrast these two major examples of jealousy with Kitty and Levin. This couple has their own petty jealousies (Kitty over Anna and Levin over Vronsky), but they overcome them through the strength of their attachment to each other.
Questions About Jealousy
- Is Anna's jealousy justified? Why or why not? Consider this same question for Kitty and Levin, and also Dolly and Oblonsky.
- Why does Tolstoy emphasize Levin and Kitty's occasional moments of jealousy? How does their marriage survive these moments?
- Is Karenin jealous over Anna's relationship with Vronsky?
Chew on This
Anna's jealousy is both justified and unavoidable because Vronsky is her entire life.
Dolly's jealousy is not justified because Oblonsky's affairs never interfere with her management of the household or children.