Anna Karenina Fridays – Week 5

This week for the Anna Karenina read-along hosted by Wallace at Unputdownables, I completed the third part.  This week’s reading was somewhat different from last week’s.  This week, we learned more about Anna and Vronsky, and in particular, what Anna’s husband, Alex, was going to handle the situation.  We also discovered more about Levin’s political viewpoints on a variety of topics.

This week, I’ll address the questions posed in this week’s post at Unputdownables.

Question 1:  What advice would you have given Karenin?

Obviously, Alex Karenin is clearly more concerned with how his political enemies in government view Anna’s infidelity.  While he seemed quite oblivious to the affair from the beginning, he doesn’t seem to express any emotional disappointment to his marital situation.  Clearly, Alex Karenin, has married for a dowry or for an enhanced social status, at least in my opinion.  Since he’s more concerned with his political future, it paints the picture that Anna’s feelings were spot on, he really didn’t show much affection and/or love toward her.  Also, there is clearly a negative social stigma, at this particular time in czarist Russia, if a wife cheats on her husband, and he wants to curb that perception as much as possible, especially with his solution to this issue.

I’m not sure what advice I would give him.  He’s clearly confined in his approach to this situation.  He clearly thinks/states, that he wants the perception that his marriage is ok to remain, even though Anna would be clearly most unhappy with that status.  He desperately wants to maintain his cultural status in his government circles, and will sacrifice Anna’s happiness to accomplish those means.  He clearly doesn’t care about love.

Question 2:  How is this situation playing out differently than what is happening with Dolly?

There’s clearly a double standard here.  At the beginning of the book, Stiva cheated on his wife.  There isn’t any social stigma attached to this behavior with men in a noble society.  However, it’s not confined to czarist Russia with this type of acceptance.  It was widely accepted across Europe, that anyone from the monarch on down was expected to have many mistresses, and to a certain extent, their social status was elevated because of it.  Dolly pretty much either had to forgive Stiva, or else she would lose her well-being.

Question 3:  Is anyone sensing a…cooling of Vronsky’s affection towards Anna in these pages?

I definitely do.  I’m not entirely sure he realized what the consequences of his actions would be by pursuing and sleeping with another man’s wife.  While he wants Anna to leave at first, after seeing a fellow comrade of his, having become a general, he begins to wonder if a mistress, and that’s what Anna would be perceived as, would do for his military career, and if it would be an eternal weight to him.  I think he’s beginning to have second thoughts about being able to raise a child, especially since he doesn’t have nearly as much money coming in as he previously did.  Vronsky’s mother has begun to cut him off, and he’s feeling it, as both his mother and brother don’t approve of the relationship.

Aside from these issues that were discussed, toward the end of the part, we get a healthy dialogue of social, cultural, and political issues of the day.  From the emancipation of the serfs in czarist Russia, to sharecropping, and education.  There is even discussion of communism and socialism.  These were all issues discussed and explored heavily in Russia in the late 19th century, as resentment toward the czar increased.  We are clearly now seeing what people think of all the societal changes in Russia at the time, and how they’re affecting the thoughts and actions of everyday Russians.

I’m looking forward, in the future weeks of reading, that we’ll continue to explore these areas.


About Jeremy

Husband, book lover, Civil War Buff. If I could read for a living I would, but unfortunately, it doesn't pay the bills!

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