Double Standards In Anna Karenina By Leo Tolstoy

1290 words - 5 pages

Within most forms of literature there seems to be a representation of a double standard. Even in our societies double standards not only exist but are prevalent. In literature though double standards are sometimes not always noticeable to the reader, however in the texts that we have read double standards are not only noticeable, but are written in a way as if the author wants the reader to pick up on this. It’s fairly comprehensive how when it comes to adultery that the female characters suffer far more from their consequences than the males. Within each culture’s literature though, some might find adultery to be more acceptable based on that culture’s views. Altogether it is through the way the authors choose to depict the apparent double standard, how their own cultural morals for punishment in infidelity become reflected in the text, and how they choose to have the morals of their characters reflect on the act of adultery in itself that we are able to see how these books are able to find themselves in such a category of being “big books about bad girls.”
Writers throughout time have all sought ways to point out flaws in their society. They use their work as a way to present to the reader that the culture they live in isn’t as pretty as they assume. The double standard is an example of flawed human logic that decides to hold women and men to different standards when it comes to their way of life. The most obvious double standard in the text was the punishment for each sex when they committed adultery. One of the best examples is Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. The mere fact that Stiva isn’t punished for cheating on his wife Dolly is one thing, but to follow with her considered to be wrong for wanting to end the marriage depicts how corrupt their thinking is. Not to mention how in Anna Karenina Anna is snubbed by society for cheating on her husband with another man. It’s evident that if you are a male in this time period you could get away with almost anything. Another example of this is in Cousin Bette when Monsieur Hulot cheats on his wife multiple times but in the end death doesn’t take him or the law; instead he marries some kitchen maid when his wife dies. These writers were in a sense holding a mirror to their time period and asking them to look at the wrongs they see in society.
The cultural morals of the time period are another thing to take into consideration. Each country had a completely different view on committing adultery as well as the punishment for it. In Cousin Bette the French belief of a “libertine” was presented. When someone considers themselves to be a libertine they don’t follow the rules of the ethics but instead of themselves. Although the ultimate goal for a libertine appears to be power and not sex, it is because of this idea that the French appeared to consider to be adultery less of a taboo thing and more of a natural consequence for being a libertine. In Russia where Anna Karenina took place there was a great...

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