Notes on Anna Karenina Themes

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Anna Karenina Topic Tracking: The Role of Women

Book 1, Chapters 1-6

The Role of Women 1: Dolly and Stiva have an arranged marriage. Stiva has affairs, but Dolly continues to support her husband. At this time in Russia, the woman has no independent role.

Book 2, Chapters 30-35

The Role of Women 2: Kitty decides she wants to dedicate her life to family and her husband, a bold declaration in Tolstoy's eyes. That Kitty has no interest in the society life from which she came makes her the model female in the book.

Book 3, Chapters 24-32

The Role of Women 3: Levin is distracted at dinner because the sister [whose sister?] is wearing a cleavage-revealing dress to attract his attention. That makes him uncomfortable. He does not want to think sensually about someone except in the context of marriage.

Book 6, Chapters 16-25

The Role of Women 4: Anna doesn't want to have more children because she fears being pregnant would subtract from her sexual attractiveness, which is the only thing she feels she has to offer. This is how she views her role in society, hanging on her attractiveness for social success rather than concentrating on her family as Kitty does.

Book 8, Chapters 6-19

The Role of Women 5: Levin is amazed by birth and pregnancy, but at this point wonders why it has not restored his religious faith. Still, he recognizes how much family matters to him, along with how much Kitty's role as childbearer matters.

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