|Woman in Yellow (1863) by Dante Gabriel Rosetti|
The above passage is telling in describing the relationship of Anna and her husband Alexei. They have been married for nine years and have an eight year old son. Despite that, this is the first time Anna has noticed Alexei's ears. Her exclamation conveys the lack of intimacy between the couple. She is unfamiliar with his physique and shocked by his protruding ears. Although the scene at the ball with Vronsky seems to be a spontaneous act, the passage above proves that the break with her husband has been long in developing. Though she has much disgust for her husband, Anna's only true concern is for her son.
The encounter with Vronsky helped Anna have an epiphanic moment that allowed her to see her hypocritical relationship with her husband. Alexei seems comfortable in playing his role but Anna can no longer pretend. She only cares for the well-being of her son and does not hide her feelings.