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Plots, Characters, and Relationships in Anna Karenina

Plots, Characters, and Relationships in Anna Karenina

“Reason has been given to man to enable him to escape from his troubles.”1 These words, spoken by an unknown woman on a train minutes before Anna took her own life, proved cold comfort for Vronsky’s mistress. Unable to reason her way out of her despair, she flung her body under a train in an act of vengeance and escape. She failed in her personal quest, one for fulfillment that she shares with the other main protagonist in the novel, Levin, who makes corresponding attempts to reason through his own dilemmas. Anna Karenina is an epic, through which are interwoven the parallel accounts of the personal struggles of Anna and Levin, developed in tandem. One ends in death and tragedy, the other in spiritual fulfillment. It is a novel of balances; not only of plots, but also of characters, and relationships between characters.

Tolstoy’s choice of title immediately sets up expectations in the reader; expectations that are destined to be disappointed. Although the reader may anticipate a straightforward tale of a woman’s descent into adultery, they will find that that element is enclosed by and permeated with the equally dominant tale of a man’s quest for harmony and love, and a good deal of extraneous material. Levin serves as a mouthpiece for Tolstoy’s beliefs, and on occasions his activities take on a pseudo-biographical aspect. At times it seems that Anna’s involvement in the novel is minimal – with episodes involving her being sparsely distributed – and the reader may well wonder why the novel is so entitled.

Although it is difficult to be certain of Tolstoy’s motives, this essay will argue that he so named the novel because of the utterly pivotal and essential fu…

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…nt, independent, and thoughtful character, there is an undertone running throughout he novel that suggests that she has failed to adopt the befitting social role for a woman. Ultimately, she is portrayed as irrational and emotionally labile, driven by insatiable desires: “I don’t know myself,” says Anna as she sinks near to her lowest ebb; “I only know my appetites, as the French say.”15


Tolstoy, Leo, Anna Karenin, translated by Edmonds, Rosemary, Penguin, London, 1978.

End Notes

1 Tolstoy, Leo, Anna Karenin, translated by Edmonds, Rosemary, Penguin, London, 1978, p. 799.

2 Ibid., p. 508.

3 Ibid., pp. 588-9.

4 Ibid., pp. 796-7.

5 Ibid., p. 490.

6 Ibid., p. 491.

7 Ibid., p. 798.

8 Ibid., p. 532.

9 Ibid., p. 672.

10 Ibid., p. 800.

11 Ibid., p. 853.

12 Ibid., p. 832.

13 Ibid.

14 Ibid., in “Introduction”.

15 Ibid., p. 793

Science, Technology, and Morality in Shelley’s Frankenstein

Frankenstein and Science

Science is the knowledge gained by a systematic study, knowledge which then becomes facts or principles. In the systematic study; the first step is observation, the second step hypothesis, the third step experimentation to test the hypothesis, and lastly the conclusion whether or not the hypothesis holds true. These steps have been ingrained into every student of science, as the basic pathway to scientific discovery. This pathway holds not decision as to good or evil intention of the experiment. Though, there are always repercussions of scientific experiments. They range from the most simplistic realizations of the difference between acid and water to the principle that Earth is not the center of the Universe. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein depicts this very difference in the story of Victor Frankenstein. A scientist who through performing his experiments creates a monster which wreaks havoc upon humanity. Frankenstein concentrating wholly upon discovery ignores the consequences of his actions.

Victor Frankenstein often esteemed himself a scientist of nature in contrast to those of his time who were alchemists. As such he followed the very same path which elementary school kids follow today; observation, hypothesis, experimentation, and conclusion. The first step he took in creating his monster was observation. Victor Frankenstein observe…

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…the story of the DeLacy’s, and from his own experiences the monster learned its evil ways.

Science is not inherently evil and never will become evil. Though the knowledge gained from science can be used toward producing evil, intended or not, and can be dangerous. The story of Victor Frankenstein shows the irresponsibility possible in the advancement of science and furthers the caution which humanity must take when it attempts to master its environment or itself. The proponents of cloning humans today should remind themselves of the lesson which Victor Frankenstein before they have to deal with the products of their research and learn the hard way.

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