"Anna Karenina": Infidelity. Essay

960 words - 4 pages

"Anna Karenina", a Russian novel written by Leo Tolstoy, provokes the world of marriage, family, and adultery with its first line, "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." This provocative quote reflects on how the two families, the Oblonskys and Karenins, in the novel faced struggles in marriages as they became the wretched victims of infidelity. The marriage of Stepan and Dolly Oblonsky fell apart due to Stepan's Russian high class lifestyle. Alexei and Anna Karenin's ill-fated marriage was based on Anna's desperate love for Vronsky. While Anna betrays her husband, Stepan betrays his wife and each marriage illustrates unhappiness 'in its own way.' However, one commonly shared unhappiness with both marriages is not simply caused by the affairs but by lies and deceit by the spouses.The novel starts with Dolly Oblonsky's discovery of her husband Stepan's illicit sexual relationship with the governess. Dolly was deeply affected by the infidelity, however; what hurt her deeply was the fact that Stepan got away with it by lying. For instance, Dolly expressed her feelings to Anna Karenina about the affair: "I could even understand if it was a passion...but to deceive me deliberately, cunningly...and with whom?...To go on being with my husband together with her...it's terrible." This quote emphasized how Dolly was truly unhappy with Stepan not just for cheating on her but for his deceitful behavior towards her. It is not the perfidious affair but the deception that resulted in an unhappy marriage between Stepan and Dolly.While Dolly was completely heartbroken over the whole situation, Stepan regretted that he was not cautious enough to enjoy his private life. That is, Tolstoy reveals who he is as he describes, "All he repented of was that he had not succeed better in hiding it from his wife." Stepan believes that he has the right to enjoy his aristocratic lifestyle by adding some sweetness to it since he views women, especially those who were very attractive and beautiful, as "sweet rolls". His marriage increasingly became dysfunctional as he continued to deceive Dolly and he already cheated her twice. Author David Wexler, who wrote When Good Men Behave Badly, warns "No marriage can survive in that atmosphere of lies." Indeed, Stepan's marriage has subtly changed Dolly as she struggled to move out in the country and sought her own happiness as a mother. Such a change in Dolly's life reflects the effect of Stepan's lies and deceit; thus, creating unhappiness in their marriage.While Stepan Oblonsky betrays her wife, Tolstoy portrays the deeper truth of infidelity and its pain by narrating the chaotic relationship between Alexei and Anna Karenin. While still married to Alexei Karenin, Anna had an uncontrolled passion with the rich playboy Count...

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