Anna Karenina

Levin and Mowing

Constantine Levin, a hero of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, longs to discover some harmonious part of himself through experiencing the peasant way of life. He believes there to be something profoundly rewarding in the simple act of working as one's needs dictate. By working with and alongside the peasants for a whole day of mowing in his own fields Levin seeks to gain some of the uncomplicated peace-of-mind that he feels the lower farming classes enjoy.

However, Levin's motives for mowing are distinctly different from those of the hired workers. Levin feels he must mow as a kind of remedy for the type of aristocratic life he has been leading. His first experience with the activity came when he had "lost his temper and to calm himself had used a remedy of his own -- he took a scythe from one of the peasants and himself began mowing." Levin mows to relieve himself of the pressures brought on by the work of his own class (giving orders to his steward, running his farm indirectly through middle-men). Not only does he mow to soothe his stresses, but also to give himself a greater feeling of connection to his land and farming process. Levin cannot understand why the Russian peasants do not commit themselves entirely...

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