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Monday, May 30, 2011

Unhappy Families

"All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

The above quote is the famous opening line of Anna Karenina.  Let's look at the unhappy families in the novel's first section:

*The Oblonsky household has been upset by Stepan's affair with the children's former French governess.  Stepan himself no longer finds his wife attractive, for which reason he cheated on her.  He and his wife Dolly do not speak for several days.  Anna Karenina arrives from St. Petersberg at her brother Stepan's request and helps the couple reconcile to a point.

*Konstantin Levin is a rich landowner that lives in the country who has come to Moscow to declare his love for Kitty, the sister-in-law of Stepan.  Levin proposes to Kitty but she rejects him, having set her eyes on Vronsky, a wealthy military officer, who shows a definite interest in her.  Kitty is later heart-broken when Vronsky shows his preference for the married Anna Karenina.  Levin has a brother Nikolai who is a poor, quarrelsome alcoholic whom he has not seen in three years, and a half-brother Sergei whose philosophical way of speaking confuses Levin.

*Alexei and Anna Karenin are a married couple that lives in St. Petersberg and are well-connected within that society.  Nevertheless, Anna's trip to Moscow and her meeting of Vronsky excites her passionate side and prompts her to reject her husband's cold nature.  Her only regret is the effect her affair will have on her eight year old son. 

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