These scandalous relations between Vronsky and Anna also shows Anna's husband Karenin in stark relief and in a role typically reserved for woman: as the dutiful, trusting husband. "Jealousy, in his opinion, was insulting to a wife, and a man ought to have trust in his wife. Why he ought to have trust...he never asked himself. But he felt no distrust." (p. 142) This bending of traditional gender roles, especially in Russian fiction, is unique to Tolstoy, and one of the things that makes Anna Karenina so fascinating even today. In Anna, we meet a woman who not only has desires, but who acts on them against all judgment. She is adulterous yet real, scandalous yet true to her own feelings, sexual yet foolish. It's hard to know at times whether to love her or hate her.
As we find ourselves deeper and deeper in the web of Anna and Vronsky's love, you will be asked to choose for yourself what to think. Like many readers have felt, it's the kind of choice that may keep you up at night wondering and puzzling!
Part Three Plot Point: Reform Abounds
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