Leo Tolstoy is perhaps one of the greatest writers of western civilization, and his epic Anna Karenina is no exception. An intricate novel filled with symbolism, character depth, and enough complex literary technique to make any english teacher squeal with delight, one of the fundamentals that makes this novel so good is the fact that everything has something important to it. Every single scene in this book means something, whether it is where Anna consummates her affair or when Stiva hugs his children. The scene I chose is fairly simple: Anna meets Vronsky for the first time. Even though no major interactions occur, the simple occurrence of Vronsky and Anna having a polite conversation leads to major foreshadowing and character breakdown.
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Now, this scene directly precedes the train death scene, where much may be learned from Vronsky’s character, but I chose this scene, where Anna meets Vronsky, simply because it gives us more of an overall view of the mayhem about to ensue. Without knowing anything about the storyline past here, looking at this three page segment gives it all away. The moment Vronsky lays eyes on Anna, we can tell he is absolutely enthralled. Not in a joyous fangirl-esque captivation, but in typical Vronsky style a mildly amused, yet amorously attentive at the enigmatic woman who just walked by him.. Even though not much has been explained about him so far in the saga, this scene shows his character. He can’t take his eyes off of Anna, and she notices this, yet he remains with a calm, almost cold expression. We see how Vronsky is reserved in his actions, and coolly polite. His conversation with his mother seems almost forced, and he simply approaches the conversation to learn who the woman he just gazed upon was, as he is basically watching/listening to Anna outside while talking to his mother.
Vronsky immediately takes to Anna, but it appears that Anna only considered Vronsky after noticing his expression. Anna is described as a woman with a certain charm, whether it is social, physical, or simply unexplainable. She walks around with a light in her eyes, and a trace of a smile, appearing enigmatic while poised and elegant. As Vronsky watches Anna, she notices this and suddenly makes her face seem colder, but as Tolstoy describes, “She deliberately extinguished the light in her eyes, but it shone against her will in a barely noticeable smile”(61). Thus, it seems that Anna notices the effect she has on others, and takes pleasure from it, yet encountering Vronsky gives her a spark that others do not give her. Later on, whilst talking with both Vronsky and his mother, Anna stealthily flashes smiles at Vronsky, as well as giving him her hand to kiss before leaving. From this, we see that this scene is a mockery of love at first sight, where little love is prevalent, and the two simply cannot have a happy ending.
And thus, from what we know of the story so far, Anna and Vronsky are simply infatuated with each other. Anna has some desire that her lifestyle cannot quench, and Vronsky can sate it. While some may see their instant chemistry as love at first sight, i only see it as lust at first sight, where the two simply need some chemistry in their lives. Vronsky is a man who has been living a textbook life, and Anna is a woman who has lead a life too perfect to the point of boredom. What the two lack in their fulfilling lives, they find in each other.
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