Character Journeys in Anna Karenina
When Anna thinks she has lost Vronsky's love, she fears it will be replaced by respect, a feeling that reminds her of Karenin. "Respect was invented to cover the empty place where love should be." (p. 739) Alone in Moscow, Anna becomes convinced she's reliving everything she had rebelled against in Petersburg. She feels abandoned, unloved and inactive.
Just as she ridiculed Karenin and faulted him for everything bad she could think of when she was feeling guilty about Vronsky, so she eventually turns on Vronsky. While she is shunned from society, he is free to live a bachelor's life. Her greatest fear, now that she has lost Seryozha, is that Vronsky will abandon her. "For me, everything is in him alone, and I demand that he give his entire self to me more and more. If he is kind and gentle towards me out of duty, without loving me, and I am not to have what I want—that is a thousand times worse even than anger. It's hell! And that is what we have." (p. 763) Her envy and desperation turn into uncontrollable jealousy, pushing him further away and her to the breaking point.
She's Come Undone
Resolved to be a mistress and not a wife, Anna had told Dolly, "Thinking of marriage could drive me mad." (p. 640) And it does. After she spends one night romanticizing the pity, love and suffering Vronsky will experience if she dies, Anna fails to recognize herself in a mirror. "I'm losing my mind." (p. 753) But the flame of life still flickers inside. She decides to visit Dolly to clear her head. In the carriage, death doesn't seem inevitable and Anna reproaches herself for stooping to such humiliation. At Dolly's, a telegram from Stiva reconfirms that Karenin is still refusing a divorce, leaving Anna with neither of her loves. Anna's world begins to grow dark and dirty. Once radiant and cheerful, Anna leaves Dolly's feeling utterly alone. "Is it really possible to tell someone else what one feels? Levin thought he knew me. I don't know myself. We all hate each other." (p. 760) The deeper into her depression she sinks, the worse the world around her seems. As she rides to the train station in a vain attempt to reach Vronsky, she imagines houses full of people who hate each other, distrusting couples trying to escape themselves. The train station itself is soiled and nasty, filled with "pathologically ugly" people. (p. 767) And though she once delighted in attention from young men, she feels pawed at by their stares now. Death is the release from the pain and revenge for a love that's been denied her.
Throughout the novel, Anna has been dramatically self-aware. Feeling like a tightened string about to snap, Anna repeatedly told the men in her life that death was the only way to end the pain and shame of her situation. But Vronsky and Stiva won't hear of it. If only someone had listened to her, her fate might not have been so tragic.
Levin's life lessons