Sunday, March 4, 2012

“Vengeance is mine, I will repay.”

“Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” This line is the opening statement in the novel Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, who sets the mood right away. Interestingly, we as readers do not know whom “I” refers to in the statement, or to whom it was meant. However, it is clear that someone will pay for whatever the “act” has been committed. Thus far in the novel, we can see that there are many motifs that have emerged, which could lead “the speaker” or Tolstoy in this case to want vengeance. The most important of these is the motif of infidelity, or also adultery. From the very first chapter of the novel, the motif of adultery has been present to the reader. Right from the start, the reader finds out about Stiva, Anna’s brother was unfaithful to his wife Dolly. In this novel, unfaithfulness has caused families to be broken apart and lives to be ruined. It has been the cause of the downfall of many of the characters in the novel. However, this downfall has been caused by their actions and mistakes.

In this case the infidelity is predominantly evident in the love affair between Vronsky and Anna. From their very first encounter at the train station, it was clear to the reader that this relationship was destined for destruction. Their relationship takes on a very deceptive and superficial quality. Vronsky knew from the very beginning about Anna’s marital status, yet this did not dissuade his attraction to her, or his persuasion. It is important to note that it is Vronsky’s frivolous nature that is responsible for his inability to fully love Anna with the passion that she desperately needs from him. Vronsky initially believes that he loves Anna, but Tolstoy shows the reader that Vronsky’s love for her is noy absolute, not complete. His love is not based upon firm emotional commitment, and it is easily questioned and redefined through the novel. Eventually, Anna’s love becomes burdensome to him, mainly because he remains steeped in the pursuit of his own freedom and pleasures, without placing importance of Anna’s tormented existence. Vronsky begins a relationship that he is not ready for, and he is dishonest with himself with his true intentions. Throughout the novel, Vronsky believes that he can love Anna in the “right way,” yet he fails to find solution to their situation and in serious situation he dismisses the whole issue. This example is demonstrated when he found out for the first time that Anna is pregnant.

While reading this novel, I could not help but think that Tolstoy tries to suggest that Vronsky’s and Anna’s relationship will be destroyed not by outside party/forces but by their own hands. They will cause their own destruction. But also, to some extent, it seems that like Tolstoy wants them to pay for the betrayal and dishonesty.

1 comment:

  1. It's interesting that you say either Vronsky or Anna will ultimately destroy their relationship. I agree but at the same time am surprised that vengeance is not a larger part of the novel so far. Though Alexei Alexandrovich has been harmless towards Anna and Vronsky, considering his feelings for them, I have been waiting for him to do something drastic.