Ultimately the driving force of all the characters in Anna Karenina is the personal happiness, or self-interest according to another translation, of each. In some cases, there is a difference between the happiness of what one wants and what one pursues. Below is a description of what the major characters seeks to obtain personal happiness:
*Anna--a passionate love life. She rejects the passionless love of her husband in favor of an affair that embraces her passionate nature.
*Alexei--work and pride. This is what drives Alexei. Even after Anna tells Alexei that she is Vronsky's mistress, the foremost subject in his mind is the settlement of racial minorities in unoccupied lands (Pt. 3, Ch. 14).
Vronsky--victory. Tolstoy describes Vronsky as the "victor" in his pursuit of Kitty and he feels the same about his pursuit of Anna. The desire for victory is enhanced by his military background. He loves her beauty but does he love her?
Levin--Kitty. No matter how many times Levin tries to give up his pursuit of Kitty, he always returns to it. Even when he returns to the country and feels the rewarding experience of working in nature, one chance glimpse of Kitty reminds him that she is what he truly desires.
Stepan--women. Stepan likes the stability of a home life that involves a wife and children, but he no longer finds his wife attractive. One personall benefit of women to Stepan is that he feels youthful again.
Dolly--children. She knows she cannot depends on the love of Stepan, so Dolly invests all her time into her children. This is where she finds her happiness.