When we first meet Kitty she is an innocent 18-year-old girl skating her way into Levin's heart. But Kitty has already naively cast the charming Count Vronsky as her bridegroom in her dreams of marriage. When Vronsky falls for Anna Karenina instead, Kitty becomes sick—not because she is dying for love but because her pride has been wounded. As Kitty rebounds from her first heartbreak, she begins her journey into womanhood.
Lessons Learned the Hard Way
While she is stunned at first by Vronsky's rejection, it is impossible for Kitty to think of the insult she's received without thinking of the insult she's inflicted on Levin. She refuses her sister Dolly's pity about Vronsky, saying, "I'm proud enough never to allow myself to love a man who doesn't love me." (p. 124) But Kitty loses her composure when Dolly mentions Levin. Kitty knows she chose "happy prospects" with Vronsky and "hurt a man she loved and hurt him cruelly" with Levin. (p. 47) She realizes too late that she made the wrong decision and longs for Levin's forgiveness.
In order to restore her health (and escape harsh societal judgment), Kitty and her mother travel to a German spa where Kitty hopes to make herself over into a "perfect being." (p. 216) There Kitty befriends Varenka—a young woman who selflessly tends to the needs of her elderly companion as well as other patients at the spa—hoping to emulate her altruistic habits. Kitty pretends to care for a sick gentleman painter at the spa, but he mistakes Kitty's kindness for love and she suffers the embarrassment. Humiliated once again by her failure to be true to her heart, Kitty berates herself to Varenka. "It was all pretense...so as to seem better to people, to myself, to God—to deceive everyone. No, I won't fall into that any more! Be bad, but at least don't be a liar!" (p. 235)
Time Heals All Wounds
When Kitty and Levin reunite, it takes less than 24 hours for their fates to be united. At a dinner party Dolly and Stiva have orchestrated, Kitty and Levin are so much in each other's thoughts that they become engaged without speaking. Overjoyed to have Levin's forgiveness, Kitty has no doubts about their union. Levin, on the other hand, seems to need constant reassurance of her love. He offers to call off the wedding twice—first after she reads his diaries and then after his "bachelor night." The content of the diaries horrifies Kitty but makes her love Levin for all his faults; having to put his fears to rest closer to the wedding makes her see him as "pathetic." (p. 446) A pattern has been set for their relationship—when Levin is groundless Kitty will be her most rational.
Kitty as wife and mother