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Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina

by Leo Tolstoy

Love Theme

Love is a big deal in Anna Karenina. It is both a destructive and a productive force in the novel, and is understood inside and outside the context of marriage. The title character's adulterous affair is the main drama of the novel. Because Anna can't find love inside her marriage, she looks for it outside, which ultimately leads to her suicide. Familial love – especially Anna's love for her son – comes in conflict with her passionate romantic feelings for her lover, Vronsky. In fact, Anna's eventual abandonment of her son winds up destroying her ability to love Vronsky – or anyone – with depth or trust. In contrast, wholesome Levin and Kitty find happiness through marrying for love. It is Levin's love for Kitty and, eventually, his son Dmitri, that gives Levin's life meaning.

Questions About Love

  1. Does Karenin love Anna? Does Vronsky love Anna? Is either man worthy of her love?
  2. Why doesn't Anna love her daughter Annie? What is different between the powerful love she has for her son and her less emotional relationship with her daughter?
  3. In Anna Karenina, is love necessary for the success of a relationship?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

In Anna Karenina, mutual respect and compromise are more important to the success of a relationship than love.

In Anna Karenina, love is essential to forgiveness.

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