Anna Karenina

Russia in Transition: Anna Karenina and the Ever-Changing Russian Landscape 12th Grade

Though a majority of the characters in Leo Tolstoy’s momentous novel Anna Karenina are members of the nobility, the reforms Czar Alexander II put in place for the lower classes had profound effects on them. The time of his rule was an era of change for the Russian people because so many of his reforms had direct impacts on society. Some of these reforms included changes to the organization of Russian social classes, educational and farming reforms, and an enormous increase in urbanization (Riasanovsky 24-27).

Alexander II profoundly affected the everyday lives of his subjects and the lives of Russians in the generations after he fell from power. Perhaps his most important reform of Russian society was freeing the serfs in 1861. Serfdom was a form of slavery instituted in the early days of feudal Russian farming. Serfs would be bound to the land and owned by the land owner. This was a longstanding practice in Russia but the revolts of serfs were imminent when Alexander II took the throne. He worked for their freedom as soon as he came to power and after six years of hard work his emancipation law was signed. When they were finally freed, some stayed and worked the farms as they had done but with an increased freedom of...

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