Anna Karenina Essay

1071 words - 4 pages

Photographs, despite their reputation as a form of proof, can be at most, an interpretation of reality because after all, cameras have a limited dynamic range (the range from light to dark) and a limited depth of field. Still, the human eye is even more subjective than a roll of film because past experiences, gossip and most importantly, emotion can alter one’s perception of a person. Perception can also be influenced by how someone wants to appear and in fact, everyone consciously acts to present a certain image. This is especially true and perhaps mocked in Anna Karenina, where appearance and reality are related much like the sides of a die –– each side is independent of the others, and yet without each side the reality of the die is not complete.
As multi-faced characters, Kitty and Levin present an interesting case: as unwed individuals looking for “compatible” spouses, they both find it necessary to present a carefully maintained facade in order to attract members of the aristocracy who look to maintain the status quo. However, even after these characters project outward an aura to please their peers, their personalities can be interpreted in different ways, which must be disappointing to Kitty and Levin as they seek to change people’s opinion and not just influence it.
In relation to Levin, Kitty is much more aggressively adaptive, that is, she will do anything to appear more desirable. After all, after seeing how successful and popular Anna is, Kitty is enthralled by everything Anna does and then deliberately mimics Anna to draw attention to herself. And even after Kitty shakes off her infatuation with the idea of a perfect Anna, Kitty starts to “unconsciously” copy Varenka, who she regards as “the perfection she could only dream of” (Tolstoy 263). But this brings up the issue of who exactly Kitty is and how far it strays from Levin’s idolization of Kitty and the reader’s less glorified notion of Kitty. What’s remarkable is that these viewpoints differ yet describe the same woman. Though one viewpoint is biased to the point where Oblansky realizes Levin can only see two types of women in the world: those who are Kitty and those who are not, Levin’s idea of Kitty is technically no less true than the reader’s since we both form our opinions based on how Kitty presents herself to us (Tolstoy 47). However, I’m inclined to believe that I’m closer to reality than lovestruck Levin is, because as hard as it seems to some men, their obsessions are never as perfect as they believe. In fact, I’m sure that Kitty is not as wonderful as Levin believes because after being glanced over by Vronsky after one glimpse of Anna (an indication that Kitty cannot be perfect because if she were, Vronsky would have pursued her) she develops major image problems, believing herself to be “odious, disgusting and coarse” (Tolstoy 149). Furthermore, Kitty can‘t be perfect if she believes that she needs to alter her personality to attract suitors looking for a...

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