A brief summary of Leo Tolstoy’s novel “Anna Karenina”
In the Moscow house of Oblonsky, where “everything was mixed up” at the end of the winter of 1873, the host’s sister, Anna Arkadyevna Karenina, was waiting. The reason for the family frustration was that Prince Stepan Arkadievich Oblonsky convicted his wife of treason with a governess. Thirty-four-year-old Steve Oblonsky sincerely feels sorry for Dolly’s wife, but, being a truthful person, he does not assure himself that he regrets what he did. Life-loving, kind and carefree Steve has long been no longer in love with his wife, the mother of five living and two dead children, and has long been unfaithful to her.
Steve is completely indifferent to the work he is doing, serving as a boss in one of Moscow’s presences, and this allows him to never get carried away, make mistakes and perfectly perform his duties. Friendly, condescending to human shortcomings, Steve’s charming man enjoys the disposition of people of his circle, subordinates, superiors
Levin came to make an offer to the eighteen-year-old Princess Kitty Shcherbatskaya, her sister-in-law Oblonsky, who had long been in love with him. Levin is sure that such, above all the earthly girl, like Kitty, can not love him, an ordinary landowner, without special gifts, as he believes. In addition, Oblonsky informs him that he apparently had a rival – a brilliant representative of the Petersburg “golden youth”, Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky.
Kitty knows about Levin’s love and feels comfortable with him; with Vronsky she feels incomprehensible awkwardness. But it is difficult for her to understand her feelings, she does not know whom to give preference to. Kitty does not suspect that Vronsky does not intend to marry her at all, and dreams of a happy future with him make her refuse to Levin. Meeting
Anne manages to persuade Dolly to forgive her husband; in the house of Oblonsky a fragile peace is established, and Anna goes to the ball together with the Oblonsky and Shcherbatsky. At the ball, Kitty admires the naturalness and grace of Anna, admires the special, poetic inner world that is in her every movement. Kitty expects a lot from this ball: she is sure that during the mazurka Vronsky will explain with her. Suddenly she notices how Vronsky talks with Anna: in each of their eyes there is an irresistible craving for each other, every word decides their fate. Kitty leaves in despair. Anna Karenina returns home, to St. Petersburg; Vronsky follows her.
Myself blaming the failure of matchmaking, Levin returns to the village. Before leaving, he meets his older brother Nikolai, who lives in cheap rooms with a woman he took from a brothel. Levin loves his brother, despite his uncontrollable nature, which brings a lot of trouble to himself and others. Severely ill, lonely, drinking, Nikolai Levin is fascinated by the communist idea and the organization of some metalworking artel; this saves him from contempt for himself. The meeting with his brother aggravates the shame and discontent with himself, which Konstantin Dmitrievich feels after the matchmaking. He settles down only in his patrimonial estate Pokrovsky, deciding to work even harder and not allow himself the luxury – which, however, had never before been in his life.
The familiar St. Petersburg life, to which Anna returns, makes her disappointed. She was never in love with her husband, who was much older than her, and felt only respect for him. Now his society becomes painful for her, she notices the slightest of his shortcomings: too big ears, habit to crack with fingers. Her love for the eight-year-old son Seryozha does not save her. Anna tries to regain her peace of mind, but she does not succeed – mainly because Alexei Vronsky in every possible way strives for her location. Vronsky is in love with Anna, and his love is strengthened because the romance with the lady of the big world makes his position even more brilliant. Despite the fact that his whole inner life is filled with a passion for Anna, outwardly Vronsky leads the usual, cheerful and pleasant life of a Guards officer: with the Opera, the French theater, balls, jumps and other pleasures. But their relationship with Anna is too different in the eyes of others from an uncomplicated secular flirting; strong passion causes universal condemnation. Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin observes the relation of light to his wife’s novel with Count Vronsky and expresses Anna’s dissatisfaction. Being a high-ranking official, “Alexey Alexandrovich lived and worked all his life in the sphere of official affairs dealing with the reflections of life, and every time he faced life himself, he withdrew from it.” Now he feels himself in the position of a man standing above the abyss. Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin observes the relation of light to his wife’s novel with Count Vronsky and expresses Anna’s dissatisfaction. Being a high-ranking official, “Alexey Alexandrovich lived and worked all his life in the spheres of service dealing with the reflections of life, and every time he faced life itself, he withdrew from it.” Now he feels himself in the position of a man standing above the abyss. Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin observes the relation of light to his wife’s novel with Count Vronsky and expresses Anna’s dissatisfaction. Being a high-ranking official, “Alexey Alexandrovich lived and worked all his life in the spheres of service dealing with the reflections of life, and every time he faced life itself, he withdrew from it.” Now he feels himself in the position of a man standing above the abyss.
Karenin’s attempts to stop his wife’s irrepressible desire for Vronsky, Anna’s attempts to restrain herself are unsuccessful. A year after the first meeting, she becomes Vronsky’s mistress – realizing that now they are bound forever, like criminals. Vronsky is burdened by the uncertainty of relations, persuades Anna to leave her husband and join her life with him. But Anna can not decide to break with Karenin, and even the fact that she is expecting a child from Vronsky does not give her determination.
During the races, in which all the upper light is present, Vronsky falls from his horse Frou-Fru. Unaware of the seriousness of the fall, Anna expresses her desperation so openly that Karenin is compelled to immediately take her away. She announces to her husband about her infidelity, about disgust for him. This news makes Alexei Alexandrovich impression of a pulled out sick tooth: he finally gets rid of the suffering of jealousy and leaves for St. Petersburg, leaving his wife at the dacha in anticipation of his decision. But, after touching all possible options for the future – a duel with Vronsky, a divorce – Karenin decides to leave everything unchanged, punishing and humiliating Anna with the requirement to observe the false visibility of family life under the threat of separation from her son. Adopting this decision, Alexei Alexandrovich acquires enough calm, so that with his inherent ambition to give thought to the affairs of the service. Her husband’s decision causes an explosion of hatred towards him. She considers him a soulless machine, not thinking that she has a soul and the need for love. Anna realizes that she is cornered, because she can not change her current position to the position of a mistress who abandons her husband and son and deserves everyone’s contempt.
The continuing uncertainty of relations is excruciating for Vronsky, who loves order in the depths of his soul and has an unshakable set of rules of conduct. For the first time in his life, he does not know how to behave, how to bring his love for Anna into accord with everyday rules. If he joins with her, he will be forced to resign, and this is also not easy for him: Vronsky loves regimental life, is respected by his comrades; besides, he is ambitious.
The life of three people is wrapped in a web of lies. A pity to her husband alternates with Anna with disgust; she can not but meet Vronsky, as Alexei Alexandrovich demands. Finally, there are deliveries, during which Anna almost dies. Lying in a maternity fever, she asks forgiveness from Alexei Alexandrovich, and at her bed he feels pity for his wife, tender compassion and spiritual joy. Vronsky, whom Anna disconserts unconsciously, experiences burning shame and humiliation. He tries to shoot himself, but he is saved.
Anna does not die, and when the spiritual softening caused by the nearness of death passes, she begins to be burdened again by her husband. Neither his decency and generosity, nor the touching concern for a newborn girl, does not save her from irritation; she hates Karenin even for his virtues. A month after recovery, Anna went abroad with Vronsky and his daughter who retired.
Living in the village, Levin is engaged in an estate, reads, writes a book about agriculture and undertakes various economic changes that are not approved by the peasants. The village for Levin is “the place of life, that is, joys, suffering, labor.” The peasants respect him, for forty versts they go to him to consult – and they strive to deceive him for his own benefit. In regard to Levin, the people are not deliberate: he considers himself to be a part of the people, all his interests are connected with peasants. He admires the strength, meekness, justice of the peasants and is irritated by their carelessness, slovenliness, drunkenness, and lies. In disputes with brother-in-law Sergei Ivanovich Koznyshev, who came to visit, Levin proves that zemstvo activities do not benefit the peasants, because they are not based on knowledge of their true needs,
Levin feels his merging with nature; he hears even the growth of spring grass. In the summer, he mows along with the peasants, feeling the joy of simple labor. Despite all this, he considers his life to be idle and dreams of changing it to a labor, clean and common life. In his soul constantly undergo elusive changes, and Levin listens to them. At one time it seems to him that he has found peace and forgotten his dreams of family happiness. But this illusion is crumbling to dust when he learns of Kitty’s serious illness, and then sees her herself riding to her sister’s village. The feeling that once seemed dead again takes hold of his heart, and only in love does he see the opportunity to unravel the great mystery of life.
In Moscow, at a lunch at the Oblonskys, Levin meets Kitty and realizes that she loves him. In a state of higher spiritual recovery, he makes Kitty an offer and receives consent. Immediately after the wedding, the young people leave for the village.
Vronsky and Anna travel around Italy. At first Anna feels happy and full of joy of life. Even the consciousness that she was separated from her son, lost her honest name and caused the misfortune of her husband, does not overshadow her happiness. Vronsky lovingly and respectfully with her, he does everything so that she does not bother her position. But he, in spite of his love for Anna, feels anguish and clings to everything that can give his life significance. He begins to paint, but having enough taste, he knows his mediocrity and is soon disappointed in this occupation.
On her return to St. Petersburg, Anna clearly senses her rejection: she is not welcome, her acquaintances avoid meeting her. Insults to light poison Vronsky’s life, but, busy with her own experiences, Anna does not want to notice this. On Seryozha’s birthday she secretly rides to him and, finally seeing her son, feeling his love for himself, realizes that she can not be happy in separation from him. In desperation, in irritation, she reproaches Vronsky for not loving her; He should effortlessly calm her down, after which they leave for the village.
The first time of married life is hard for Kitty and Levin: they hardly get used to each other, charms are replaced by disappointments, quarrels – reconciliation. Family life is presented to Levine as a boat: it’s nice to glide on the water, but it’s very difficult to rule. Suddenly, Levin receives news that brother Nicholas is at death in the provincial town. He immediately goes to him; despite his protests, Kitty decides to go with him. Having seen his brother, having experienced the excruciating pity for him, Levin still can not get rid of the fear and disgust that the proximity of death causes in him. He is shocked that Kitty is not at all afraid of the dying person and knows how to behave with him. Levin feels that only the love of his wife saves these days from horror and himself.
During Kitty’s pregnancy, which Levin learns on the day of his brother’s death, the family continues to live in Pokrovsky, where relatives and friends gather for the summer. Levin values the spiritual intimacy that was established between him and his wife, and suffers with jealousy, fearing to lose this intimacy.
Dolly Oblonskaya, who visits her sister, decides to visit Anna Karenina, who lives with Vronsky on his estate, not far from Pokrovsky. Dolly is amazed at the changes that have taken place in Karenina, she feels the falsity of her current way of life, especially noticeable in comparison with her former liveliness and naturalness. Anna entertains guests, tries to deal with her daughter, reading, arranging a village hospital. But her main concern is to replace Vronsky with everything that he left for her. Their relationship becomes more and more tense, Anna is jealous of everything he is addicted to, even to the zemstvo activities that Vronsky is mainly doing in order not to lose his independence. In the autumn, they are moving to Moscow, waiting for Karenin’s decision to divorce. But, offended in his best feelings, rejected by his wife, who was alone, Alexei Alexandrovich falls under the influence of the famous spirit, Princess Soft, who persuades him out of religious considerations not to give the criminal wife a divorce. There is neither complete dissension nor agreement in the relations between Vronsky and Anna. Anna accuses Vronsky of all the hardships of his position; Attacks of desperate jealousy are instantly replaced by tenderness; quarrels break out every now and then. In Anna’s dreams, the same nightmare repeats: some peasant leans over her, sentences meaningless French words and makes something terrible with her. After a particularly difficult quarrel Vronsky, contrary to Anna’s wishes, goes to visit her mother. In complete disarray, Anna sees her relationship with him, as if in a bright light. She understands that her love is becoming more passionate and self-loving, and Vronsky, without losing his love for her, all the same is burdened by it and tries not to be against it dishonest. Trying to get him to repent, she goes to him at the station, suddenly recalling the man crushed by the train on the day of their first meeting – and then realizes what she needs to do. Anna rushes under the train; her last vision is a mumbling peasant. After that, “the candle, in which she read the anxious, deceitful, sorrowful and evil book, flared up brighter than ever, light, illuminated to her everything that had formerly been in the dark, cracked, faded and died forever.”
Life becomes hateful for Vronsky; he is tormented by nobody’s indispensable, but indelible repentance. He leaves as a volunteer for the war with the Turks in Serbia; Karenin takes his daughter to his house.
After the birth of Kitty, which became a deep spiritual shock for Levin, the family returns to the village. Levin is in agonizing disagreement with himself – because after the death of a brother and the birth of a son he can not solve for himself the most important questions: the meaning of life, the meaning of death. He feels that he is close to suicide, and is afraid to walk with a gun so as not to shoot himself. But at the same time Levin observes that when he does not ask himself why he lives, he feels in his soul the presence of an infallible judge, and his life becomes firm and definite. Finally, he understands that the knowledge of the laws of good, given to him personally, Levin, in the Gospel Revelation, can not be comprehended by reason and expressed in words. Now he feels able to put undoubted sense of goodness in every minute of his life.