Anna Karenina

wht is the perspective of constantin livin of death??

by the last chapters of the story all he could think about is life and death, i need an explanation of his perspective based on these chapters

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The website listed below has an excellent aricle on this topic. Said article deals with the chapters you are questioning.

Plot Points and Themes in Anna Karenina

Part Seven: Death Rumbles By

Oprah's Book Club


Stepping off the train as it stops at Obiralovka, Anna walks along the platform in a despairing daze, finally resolving to throw herself under an approaching train in order to punish Vronsky and be “rid of everybody and of herself.” A train approaches, and Anna impulsively throws herself under the wheels, begging God for forgiveness and feeling a pang of confusion and regret when it is too late. The candle of her life is extinguished.

Anna’s death scene is justifiably considered one of the greatest of Tolstoy’s achievements in the novel, and in Russian literature as a whole. Her suicide is not merely the end of her life but also its summation: she acts independently and alone, and she seeks to escape the falsity of the people around her, just as she did in life. Yet Anna is not a diva in death, any more than she was in life. She does not pity herself or appeal to the sympathy of the crowd; she does not care about what other people think of her. Anna does not fancy herself superior to anyone but rather includes herself in the group of people that she wishes to get rid of—she escapes not just the world but Anna Karenina as well. Tolstoy’s portrayal of Anna’s final minutes is filled not with the wrath and vengeance that the novel’s epigraph foretells but rather with great tenderness. His description of Anna’s life as a candle being illuminated and then snuffed out forever equates her life with light and truth. Tolstoy pays a quiet tribute to this character of whom he disapproves but whom he loves nonetheless.



The co-protagonists of the novel, Anna and Levin, each encounter death numerous times. Shortly after we first meet Levin, he talks to a philosopher about death, asking if he believes existence ends when the body dies. Anna has only just entered the story when a man throws himself under a train. Later, Levin witnesses the slow, painful death of his brother Nikolai, an event that makes death disturbingly real to Levin where before it had only been an abstraction. Then Anna nearly dies in childbirth, temporarily resolving her problems with Vronsky and Alexei Karenin. As she becomes increasingly desperate later in the novel, she begins thinking of death as the only solution to her troubles, until finally she throws herself under a train. Levin, too, considers suicide. Although happy otherwise, he despairs that he cannot know the meaning of his existence, and he comes so close to suicide that he fears having a rope or rifle nearby because he might kill himself. These examples suggest that, for Anna, death—specifically suicide—serves as a means of escape from her problems. For Levin, on the other hand, death represents the complete, inescapable end of his existence, which calls the meaning of his entire life into question.


Tolstoy’s decision to end the novel with Levin’s religious regeneration, rather than with Anna’s demise, perplexes many readers who expect the novel to be first and foremost about Anna and her tragedy. The ending shows us yet again that Anna Karenina is a novel of ideas, rather than merely a tragic love story. The final chapters recounting Levin’s thoughts and feelings as he discovers the meaning of life are more abstract than any other part of the novel, and some paragraphs read like a philosophy treatise. The result is striking: Anna is hardly mentioned in the last part of the novel that bears her name. As Tolstoy clearly intends this omission, we must conclude that he means us to forget or bypass Anna’s life—at least in part—in the context of the novel’s search for higher meaning. When Levin comes to reject a life lived simply to satisfy one’s own desires, he does not mention Anna, but we inevitably think of her. Tolstoy invites us to think that Anna, like Stiva and Dolly’s naughty children who destroy things in pursuit of pleasure, has pursued her passion selfishly and destructively. Anna is the negative example of what Levin positively illustrates—the ability to live one’s life in commitment to something higher than oneself.

The question of the meaning of life confronts not only Levin, but Sergei and Vronsky as well, and the latter two men come up with quite different answers to the question than Levin does. Vronsky’s response is the simpler of the two: he concludes that life has no meaning whatsoever—a notion that Levin fleetingly embraces during his thoughts of suicide. Ironically, this pessimistic idea fuels Vronsky’s courageous show of valor in traveling to fight in the Serbian war. Vronsky frankly informs Sergei that the prospect of losing one’s life is easy to accept when nothing in life has value. Sergei’s conclusion is more complex. Having tried and failed to acquire meaning through intellectual achievement, Sergei masks his private disappointment by throwing himself into a public, patriotic cause. Sergei is not exactly insincere in supporting the Serbians, but his fervor appears shallow, especially when Levin cross-examines him on whether the newspapers have sensationalized the Serbian affair to boost their circulation. Sergei tries to connect with something larger than himself but does so in the wrong way. The humans for whom he cares are abstract, not real. Like Vronsky, Sergei is unable to find good in actual relationships with living humans.

Some feminist critics feel that Anna Karenina, though it frequently presents the issue of women’s rights with sympathy and fairness, betrays a misogynistic streak at the end. Tolstoy’s parallel plot device disappears as the female story line vanishes—Anna is hardly mentioned—leaving the male Levin the star of the show. His reproach to Kitty for taking the baby to the woods against his orders suggests that father knows best, not mother. Likewise, Levin experiences religious enlightenment but decides not to share it with his wife on the grounds that she would not understand it. No woman in the novel has any grand philosophical illumination; they simply have children and busy themselves with domestic concerns. Even Anna’s rich experience seems dismissed at the end of the novel. All the compassion with which Tolstoy has represented the complexity of Anna’s situation goes up in smoke when Countess Vronsky is given the last word, calling Anna lowly and mean. We know the Countess is wrong, aware of Anna’s high-mindedness and nobility, yet nobody in the novel defends Anna or refutes the Countess. In the end, it is as if Tolstoy condemns the female right to seek passion and autonomy—even after leading us to support Anna’s claim to that right.