Literature Study GuidesAnna KareninaPart 7 Chapters 11 15 Summary

Anna Karenina | Study Guide

Leo Tolstoy

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Anna Karenina | Part 7, Chapters 11–15 | Summary

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Summary

In Chapter 11, Levin declares Anna "an extraordinary woman ... not just her intelligence, but her heart." When he gets home, he begins thinking "that there was something not right in the tender pity he felt for Anna. When he tells Kitty about his day, he blushes when he mentions meeting with Anna." Kitty begins crying, accusing him of falling in love "with that nasty woman." Levin says his compassion and the wine threw him off and made him "yield to Anna's cunning influence." The couple reconcile before going to sleep.

After Levin leaves, Anna admits to herself in Chapter 12 that she tried to get Levin to fall in love with her, as much as was possible for a faithful man. But she soon forgets him and begins fretting about Vronsky. When he gets home, she begins nagging him for staying out late, and he feels helpless to appease her.

In Chapter 13, Levin is disgusted with how far he has fallen in his own estimation by being only three months in the big city: living a senseless life, overspending, getting drunk, and even feeling attracted to a "fallen" woman. His thoughts are interrupted when Kitty goes into labor in the early morning. In Chapter 14, Levin runs to get the doctor, who wants to finish his breakfast, so the distracted husband runs back home, and the midwife tells him not to worry. Levin is horrified to hear screaming and howling coming from Kitty's room in Chapter 15 and suffers emotional torment. Following many hours of labor, Kitty delivers a boy.

Analysis

Levin begins to feel uncomfortable after he leaves Anna's house because she has aroused in him something beyond pity and compassion—he feels sexual attraction toward her. In War and Peace, Tolstoy creates an irresistible character in the form of Natasha, and in Anna Karenina, the title character has the same effect. The reader loves Anna because of her honesty and empathy and because she feels life intensely; this is her strong attraction. Kitty is devastated when Levin indicates embarrassment because she immediately understands that her husband has been seduced—albeit temporarily—by Anna's charms. This is Kitty's worst nightmare. Anna first took Vronsky away from her, and now Levin is charmed by her spells. While Tolstoy tests his theory on Anna that women might be better off with a vocation in addition to or instead of motherhood, his novel undermines his attempt, showing through Kitty and Levin the evil that might result. Ultimately, Levin is awed by the primal power of motherhood.

Anna has no interest Levin, but she tests her charm on him because she feels so insecure about Vronsky and needs to know that she is still an attractive woman with sexual power. She feels that Vronsky is growing cold toward her and does not seem to realize that her possessiveness and jealousy are driving a wedge between them. When they argue (and she always begins the arguments), she has a need to triumph, perhaps to readjust the balance of power between them. She feels powerless because she is entirely dependent on him, and when he bends during or after an argument, she feels vindicated. But this is also driving him away. Vronsky is not comfortable with emotional scenes like the ones being played out in his house every day, which is also hurting the relationship.

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