Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina

    Anna Karenina
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Character Analysis

(Avoiding Spoilers)

Living... in the late 1800s with her husband Alexei Karenin, one of the most important government officials in St. Petersburg, where they live. Alexei, who is twenty years older than Anna, provides everything she could possibly need. But he is cold and distant, leaving Anna feeling alone even when they are together.

Profession... stay-at-home mother. Anna deeply loves her eight-year-old son, Seryozha. She finds such pleasure in “the sensation of his nearness, when she meets his simple, confiding, and loving glances.”

Interests... books. Anna is a voracious reader, and is also writing a children's book. But she doesn't talk about her book to anyone but her brother, Stepan. Stepan gave her manuscript to a publisher who says it's an amazing piece of work.

Relationship Status... married to Alexei Karenin, but in an adulterous, passionate, and loving affair with Count Alexei Vronsky, a military officer. Although Anna initially resisted Vronsky’s charms when they first met, she finally gave in to her desires. As she says, "The time came when I knew that I couldn't cheat myself any longer, that I was alive, that I was not to blame, that God has made me so that I must love and live.”

Challenge... enduring the fallout after telling her husband and others the truth about her affair. Anna has been exiled from the society circles she used to run in, but Anna refuses to hide – she makes a special point of going to the opera with Vronsky when she knows her former “friends” will be in attendance. Many people despise Anna for what she has done, but she doesn't believe she deserves their contempt. After all, she had the courage to follow her heart and tell the truth. So many people she knows, including her brother Stepan, lie about their secret affairs. It’s a double standard that causes Anna much pain.  

Personality... elegant, intelligent, and strong-willed, but incredibly depressed. Before her affair, Anna was beloved by nearly everyone she knew. Her wit along with her beauty made her the toast of St. Petersburg society. Although it is debatable whether Anna should have entered into the affair in the first place, one thing is certain – she was brave to admit the truth and stand up to societal norms. But she is paying a high price for the affair, going from a confident and optimistic woman to one who is bitter and miserable.


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