The Characters of Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina Essay

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The Characters of Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina

By examining the character list, one immediately notices the value

Tolstoy places on character. With one hundred and forty named characters

and several other unnamed characters, Tolstoy places his central focus in

Anna Karenina on the characters. He uses their actions and behavior to

develop the plot and exemplify the major themes of the novel. Tolstoy

wishes to examine life as it really is. Tolstoy gives us a lifelike

representation in Anna Karenina by creating characters, both major and

minor, that contribute to the sense of realism.

The most striking feature of Tolstoy's minor characters is that

although they may
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This tag would normally be characteristic of the flat, minor

character such as Ryabinin.

However, Tolstoy wishes to add to the lifelikeness of even his

minor characters and allows them to behave as one would expect only major,

round characters. The detail Tolstoy gives to all of his characters,

including the minor characters, contributes to the realism of both the

novel and the characters.

Perhaps the most realistic of Tolstoy's major characters is

Konstantin Levin. Throughout the novel, the reader witnesses the trials of

Levin's life and his response to them. Unlike Flaubert, Tolstoy reveals

Levin in a manner which gives him a sense of roundedness and lifelikeness.

On his quest for meaning in his life, Levin is essentially a realist, just

as Tolstoy wishes to be in writing Anna Karenina.

We first encounter Levin when he arrives in Moscow to propose to

Kitty Shtcherbatsky. When Kitty refuses his proposal, Levin has been

defeated in the first step he feels is necessary for personal satisfaction.

After the refusal, Levin returns again to the county in hopes of finding

personal satisfaction in the country life style. He turns to farming,

mowing with the peasants and other such manual work to fill his time, all

the while still searching for meaning in his life. This desire
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