Tolstoy and the woman question

Tolstoy and the woman question

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Tolstoy and the woman question
Whiting, Jeanna Marie
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[Tampa, Fla]
University of South Florida
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Anna Karenina
Family happiness
Dissertations, Academic -- Liberal Studies -- Masters -- USF
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theses ( marcgt )
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ABSTRACT: This work examines the perceptions of women in art and literature in Russia during the later half of the nineteenth century. It specifically focuses on the women question and examines women's function and role in Russian society and how different visual artists along with Tolstoy examine this issue through their artwork. The first section of the work focuses specifically on women's social conditions in Russia highlighting their role as daughter, wife and mother. It examines the educational system in place designed for women and the limitations placed upon women concerning marriage and family life. Along with the historical and social analysis, this section also examines three Russian artists' portrayal of various issues relating to the woman question and the role, or lack thereof, of women in society. The second section examines Tolstoy's initial examination of women's issues through his novella "Family Happiness," and attempts to answer the question: On what side of t he woman question debate is Tolstoy? It challenges the accepted,traditional reading of Tolstoy's work as misogynistic and anti-woman, and reveals through a careful reading of the text, a sympathetic female character. The last section deals with his monumental work, Anna Karenina, with a specific examination of how Tolstoy deals with the character Anna. It negates previous readings of the text by other critics who attempt to reveal Tolstoy's antagonistic behavior toward the women characters in the text. Through a careful reading of specific passages of the text, the work shows that Tolstoy also creates a sympathetic character in Anna. This work concludes attempting to position Tolstoy on neither side of the woman question, not the case with the artists studied in the work nor other authors mentioned during this period in history, and instead reveals Tolstoy's determination to create characters and situations which are present in every society. In his approach, Tolstoy has succeeded^ in surpassing the boundaries of class and time and created characters and situations universal.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2006.
Includes bibliographical references.
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by Jeanna Marie Whiting.

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Whiting, Jeanna Marie.
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Tolstoy and the woman question
h [electronic resource] /
by Jeanna Marie Whiting.
[Tampa, Fla] :
b University of South Florida,
3 520
ABSTRACT: This work examines the perceptions of women in art and literature in Russia during the later half of the nineteenth century. It specifically focuses on the women question and examines women's function and role in Russian society and how different visual artists along with Tolstoy examine this issue through their artwork. The first section of the work focuses specifically on women's social conditions in Russia highlighting their role as daughter, wife and mother. It examines the educational system in place designed for women and the limitations placed upon women concerning marriage and family life. Along with the historical and social analysis, this section also examines three Russian artists' portrayal of various issues relating to the woman question and the role, or lack thereof, of women in society. The second section examines Tolstoy's initial examination of women's issues through his novella "Family Happiness," and attempts to answer the question: On what side of t he woman question debate is Tolstoy? It challenges the accepted,traditional reading of Tolstoy's work as misogynistic and anti-woman, and reveals through a careful reading of the text, a sympathetic female character. The last section deals with his monumental work, Anna Karenina, with a specific examination of how Tolstoy deals with the character Anna. It negates previous readings of the text by other critics who attempt to reveal Tolstoy's antagonistic behavior toward the women characters in the text. Through a careful reading of specific passages of the text, the work shows that Tolstoy also creates a sympathetic character in Anna. This work concludes attempting to position Tolstoy on neither side of the woman question, not the case with the artists studied in the work nor other authors mentioned during this period in history, and instead reveals Tolstoy's determination to create characters and situations which are present in every society. In his approach, Tolstoy has succeeded^ in surpassing the boundaries of class and time and created characters and situations universal.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2006.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 85 pages.
Adviser: Victor Peppard, Ph. D.
Anna Karenina.
Family happiness.
Dissertations, Academic
x Liberal Studies
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
4 856


Tolstoy and the Woman Question by Jeanna Marie Whiting A thesis submittedin partial fulfillmentofthe requirements for the degreeofMasterofLiberal Arts DepartmentofHumanities CollegeofArts and Sciences UniversityofSouth Florida Major Professor: Victor Peppard, Ph. D. Michael Milam, Ph.D. Pallia Lee, Ph.D. May 4, 2006 Keywords: Russia, women, nineteenth-century, art, anna karenina, family happiness Copyright 2006, Jeanna Marie Whiting


Note to Reader: The originalofthis document contains color that is necessary for understanding the data. The original dissertation is on file with the USF library in Tampa, FL.


Dedication I would like to thank allofthe fme professors who have helped me in the pursuitofthis degree and in the writingofthis thesis. To Dr. Peppard: who was always pushing me to move ahead even when I lacked the confidence to do so and for allofthe good talks over tea. To Dr. Milam for his inspiring emails from "Mother Russia" when I was in the throwsofreading Tolstoy. These first-hand experiences cemented images in my mind that had heretofore been considered as partofthefine literatureofthe past. To Dr. Lee: for being a wonderful mentor to me as a young and inexperienced student. You "showed me the ropes" and were always encouraging me with your positive, though large, wordsofencouragement. Most importantly, I would like to thankmyfamily for their support, encouragement, and patience while I was trudging through the messofacademia andtrying(0rt:IIlainvigilililtinillytruepwyGsetchusba.."'1dandchildren.Tomymotherand father who have been a support insomany ways. To God, for giving me the strength to bear the pressureofschool and the ability to persevere in all challenging areas; this work is first and foremost a dedication to Him who lives in me.


TableofContents ListofTables ListofFigures Abstract Chapter One: Introduction Chapter Two: Social Issues FacingWomenin19thCentury Russia Chapter Three: Family Happiness: The Emerging Ideal Chapter Four: Tolstoy's Triumph: Seeing Beyond Gender Chapter Five: Conclusion References Bibliography11111111 12 3351738184


Figurel.Figure 2. Figure 3. ListofFigures The Major's Betrothal The Village Sermon The Unequal Marriage11787980


Tolstoy and the Woman Question Jeanna Marie Whiting ABSTRACT This work examines the perceptionsofwomeninart and literature in Russia during the laterhalfofthe nineteenth century.Itspecifically focuses on the women question and examines women's function and role in Russian society and how different visual artists along with Tolstoy examine this issue through their artwork. The first sectionofthe work focuses specifically on women's social conditions in Russia highlighting their role as daughter, wife and mother.Itexamines tlie educational system in place designed for women and the limitations placed upon women concerning marriage and family life. Along with the historical and social analysis, this section also examines three Russian artists' portrayalofvarious issues relating to the woman question and the role, or lack thereof,ofwomeninsociety. The second section examines Tolstoy's initial examinationofwomen's issues through his novella "Family Happiness," and attempts to answer the question: On what sideofthe woman question debate is Tolstoy?Itchallenges the accepted,111


traditional readingofTolstoy's work as misogynistic and anti-woman, and reveals through a careful readingofthe text, a sympathetic female character. The last section deals with his monumental work,Anna Karenina,with a specific examinationofhowTolstoy deals with the character Anna.Itnegates previous readingsofthe text by other critics who attempt to reveal Tolstoy's antagonistic behavior toward the women charactersinthe text. Through a careful readingofspecific passagesofthe text, the work shows that Tolstoy also creates a sympathetic character in Anna. This work concludes attempting to position Tolstoyonneither sideofthe woman question, not the case with the artists studiedinthe worknorother authors mentioned during this period in history, and instead reveals Tolstoy's determination to create characters and situations which are presentinevery society. In his approach, Tolstoy has succeededinsurpassing the boundariesofclass and time and created characters and situations universal.IV


IntroductionThe social atmosphere in Russia during the mid-nineteenth century was tense with widespread debate which centered on questions focused on the rights and freedomsofseveral classes. Among the multiple social revolutions taking placeinRussia such as the emancipationofthe serfs, was the questionofthe woman's place in Russian society, which prompted a trenchant debate regarding the proper roleofthe nineteenth century woman. Up to this point, Russia, reflectingclosely the ideologyofthe Western world regarding women, was consistent with the attitude that a woman's role in society shouldbelimited to marriage and child bearing-that she should devote allofher life to the care and serviceofher family. Women were denied the right to work outside the home, andifthey sought such a position were rejected on the groundsoftheir femininity. To be asservate their prevailing anxieties through writing and other formsofexpression.Menconsidered intelligence to be a masculine feature, which, on a woman, was inapt. But, because a younger, more progressive generationofRussian intellectuals, mostly men, believed women should be emancipated somewhat from the confinesoftheir duties and be allowed more freedoms within marriage and in society, these issues spurred debate.1


Artists from various genres examined the subjectsofwomaninmarriage, womaninlove, womanasmother and wife; woman's placeinsociety was challenged and reconsidered. These topics were at the coreofthe debateofthe woman question and became the platform for the examinationofwoman's acceptable placeinsociety. Authors and painters reflected the unjust expectations society placedonwomen and,insome circumstances, offered a more positive though highly romanticized viewofthe emancipated womaninher glory. The three Russian painters chosen for this study focused specificallyonthe marriageofthe young woman to the oldermanthrough amusing yet perceptive stereotypesofthe older, unattractivemanand the younger, innocent girl. The worksofPavel Fedotov and Vasily Pukirev show only the initial arrangement and ceremonyoftheillmatched couples, but Vasily Perov offers insight into the marriage post "honeymoon" period. These satiric pieces, through their examinationofthe cause and effectofthe arranged marriage, establish oneofthe maj or debates concerning the woman question. Leo Tolstoy, oneofthemost influential writers bothinRussia and worldwide during the nineteenth century, picks uponthe discourse regarding the marriageoftheyounggirltotheoldermill"i.I-:Iispositionregardingth.ehasprcmpteddebate among critics due to his polarizing views toward women. Many critics tend to read into his texts Tolstoy's views, as a man,ofwoman. But, although he wasanoutward opponentofthe emancipationofwomen, it is clear that Tolstoy generated, within the textsofhis novels, sympathetic female characters whose lives were depicted as severely inhibitedbysocial restrictions--the topicofarranged marriage being central. BothFamily HappinessandAnna Kareninahave heroines as the central protagonists2


whose struggles center on their journey to defme self, thereby reaching self-acceptance and happiness. The resolveofthe character Masha inFamily Happinessresults from her acceptanceofher place first as mother and second as wife. For Anna, whose slavish practiceofhonesty and the seekingoftruth isolates her from her family and society, the only way to completely resolve her struggle with society and with herself(her conscience) is suicide. Neitherofthese heroines is condemned becauseofher actions; indeed, their plight is represented moreasa natural human struggle which asserts itself in women even today than a historically contextualized problem which faced only women in the nineteenth century. What begins as an examinationofthe debate surrounding marriage and the woman question for Tolstoy, ends with a condemnationofsociety and the unsympathetic male. The focusofthis work is to highlight Tolstoy's genius which transcends not only his own personal views concerning women, but also the social and political debate on the "woman question," resulting in the examinationofthe soulofthe person regardlessofsex. His focus emphasizes his ultimate goal for himself and his characters--uncovering the truthfulnessofthe soul and using this quality to gauge the goodnessofthe person. The woman question for Tolstoy becomes only partofa deeperanalysisoftneproblemsfacingsociety and his work istht:lt;fureable to epitomizenotonly the struggleofthe womenofhis generation but the struggleofwomen in every generation.iiDuring the 1860s in Russia, there arose from the intellectual circles a captivation with the woman question regarding their rights to freedom and property. This younger, more avant-gardeorliberal circleofmen took the pointofviewofthe most influential3


writers such as Chemyshevsky and Turgenev that women should be regarded equally with men, that their capacity for understanding and reason should not be considered hindered in any way, and that men should cease to view women as weak, emotional beings who lack the giftofa logical mind. George Sand, whose life and fiction both reflect the "idealized" exampleofthe emancipated woman, was hailed by manyofthe liberal intellectuals in Russia and abroad because work and life gaveproofthat women had the ability to live freely, happily, and successfully without the aid and guidanceofmen. Chemyshevsky, authorof"A Woman's Complaint," wanted to emancipate women from the "bedroom and the kitchen" (Pushkareva, 236), and wanted to improve the educational system for women so that it would be comparable to thatofmen. "These two demands, to work and to receive education became the focusofthe Russian women's movement that was born in the mid-nineteenth century" (pushkareva, 236). At this time in Russia, a woman was quite constrained over the decisions regarding her life before and after marriage. There is some debate as to the privileges a married woman might have hadinRussia, but there are no dissenting views as to the limited rights and powersofa young girl before she was married. Views about time to spend resources on the educationofwomen whose sole purpose "whether conducted at homeorat school, was to make ... attractive brides" (pushkareva, 226).Itwas also generally believed that education made women appear unfeminine (Hutton, 33), and that they were intellectually inferior to men. Resources were channeled into the moral education and instructionofetiquetteofa young girl. The children's literature and magazines higWighted the moral idealsofa4


young girl through stories focusing on specific concerns. Russian society taught that the "ideal woman" would be pious, pure, submissive and domestic. Once the young girl was indoctrinated into accepting and trying to imitate these ideals, and her parents could afford to send her to gymnasium (an term equivalent to high school), she would learn how to put into practice the lessonsofchildhood by learning behavioral etiquette--when at court, when being courted, when at balls and other social events--in general,howto appear desirable to young men. Domestic education, another essential subject for the young woman, focused on preparing her for the dutiesofhousehold manager and educatorofher children. This typeofeducation was designed to encourage the young upper-class girl, in her pursuit as a successful wife and mother, to achieve a wellbalanced home life (Stites, 10). MuchofRussian art and literature reflected the most pressing issues facing women in Russia in the 19thcentury. Westernizers, those Russians who identified with the restofEurope and wanted to adopt someofits ideologies, both social and political, wanted art to serve a useful purpose -notjustbe "art for art's sake," "the Russian artist was concerned with the tendentious and transformative purposeofart and not simply the social and political issues in Russia and then create an art that would embolden participants to change their positions -to act in a socially conscientious manner (Valkenier,163). The traditionofmarriage matching was hotly contestedbythe younger, more liberal generation. The subjectofa young, almost child-like girl being wed to an old, worn out man was commonly explored through art. Three paintings, each producedbythree individual Russian artists, will be studied in order to exarninehowthe5


"woman question" was being addressed tbrough art: Fedotov's The Major's Betrothal (figure F-I), Perov'sA Village Sermon (figure F-2), and Pukirev'sTheUnequal Marriage (figure F-3). In manyofthese paintings, the young girls look like they are being sold into slavery, foritis clear in their expressionsthat, had they to make this choice on their own, they would never have made such an ill-suited match. This gender-"gapped" marriage, many times the woman being as much as thirty years younger than the man, was also reflectedinRussian literature and linked to the failing institutionofthe family--another topicofinterestinthe laterhalfofthe nineteenth century.Inhis book Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy portrays a young, beautiful woman who has been ill-matched to an older, lifeless man. Their difference in age forges the wall that will eventually separate them both emotionally and physically. Anna's son Seryoga loses his mother, her husband Alexey loses his wife, and Anna loses herselfinher search for love and true happiness. The "unhappy marriage" has led directly to the "unhappy family."Itis then safe to say that women were trappedinthe male dominated world where a woman's most celebrated virtues were her looks, her purity, and her innocence.Precisely thesevITtueswouldwin.aiHful,anditv'louldbe these fleeting, superficialvirtues that would be the first to evaporate. ManyofTolstoy's works dealing with the issueofwomen, family, and love address this inevitable decline. What is one to do? A girl is raised with the specific purposeofacquiring a good "match," and when she has done all for her family and has sacrificed all for husband, he tiresofher (in many circumstances) and seeks pleasure tbrough other means, mainly tbrough other women. Tolstoy emphatically believed that a woman's sole purpose should be thatofhaving6


childrenandbeing a mother, but his fictionalized female characters reveal that thismost"blessed"jobiswhatrobs a young, lovely girlofthecharm thatwontheheartofherhusband. She is trapped.Themainliterary examples tobeexaminedshowTolstoy's inquiries as a writer into the "woman question." Characters such as,MashafromFamily Happiness,andKitty, Anna, and Dolly fromAnna Karenina,are more like sociological experimentsofwomenbefore marriage and after marriage than concrete, stabilized characterswithpredetermined intentionsandexperiences. Their femaleness is the only constant,andonce these characters have been established in their married lives, the manipulated variables, love, marriage and family, are introducedwitha precise recordoftheactions and reactions these characters make regarding their choiceswithlittle commentary fromthenarrator to lead the reader in any directionatall. Indeed, Edwina Cruise suggestsinherarticle "Women, Sexuality and the FamilyinTolstoy," that Tolstoy seemed tobeas enthralledatthe outcomeofthe characters' lives as were his readers, and it does not appear fromthehistorical evidence thatheplanned the events to take place as they did. "Thereisanoft-told story that during thewritingofAnnaKareninahe[Tolstoy] emerged- 4'..1..1,<-1...1 "tromhIsstuClysnaKlllghISneaaIIIoewuaermemaTwnaLAIlllanauuoneUlaL(ray (Cruise, 192). The heroineMashain the novellaFamily Happinessis Tolstoy's first attempt atsuchanexamination into the heart and actionsofa woman. Tolstoy linksthecauses that lead to Masha's "downfall" to her husband's negligence. Sergey offers no direction andistoowillingtogiveMashathe freedomtolive life as she pleases. Anna, themaincharacterinAnna Karenina,shares traits similar to thoseofMasha.Sheisfacedwithan7


excessive amountoffreedom and almost no direction from her husband who is more consumed with work than with fostering his relationship with his wife and son. Anna is presented with a tempting offerofintimacy with amanwhose whole world seemingly revolves around his adoration for her -such an intelligent and attractive woman. The parallel is evidentinboth stories -Masha is also forced to choose between a life filled with lovers or one devoted to her husband. The main difference between these two characters liesinthe tenderness and compassionofthe husbands. Masha's husband, although discouraged at her choices and the direction her life is heading, nevertheless had at some point garnered her whole heart in such a way that the sweet memoriesofnew and unbridled love held herincheck when she was being pursued by other men. Anna's relationship to Alexey assumes a formal tone from the moment they are introduced as a coupleinthe novel, and,infact, we seehertogether with Vronsky before we ever see her with her husband. The two other main female characters inAnna Karenina,Dolly and Kitty, are both presentedindiffering scenarios and followed through the courseofthe novel. Dolly is naIve, much like Masha, when she is first married. Tolstoy is unforgivinginhisdescriptionofherappearanceafterbearingmanychiidren,anuherpiolisnessbeC0i11eSsomewhatofa drawback to her character because she lacks the sexual appeal to hold her husband's attention. Combined with Dolly's lackofappeal is her husband's insatiable desire to pursue and conquer women, anditis with this sad truth that Dolly must live. Tolstoy's sympathy toward Dolly seems to extend only so far as her devotion to her children makeshera valuable commodity to her household, but her upbringing and appearance have not brought her the happiness she desires.8


Kitty is perhaps the epitomeofthe ideal female according to Tolstoy. She has beauty, which is the first and most powerful pointofattraction for a woman. She is humbled through Vronsky's rejectionofher once Anna is introduced; this humility brings depthofcharacter to her once shallow fa9ade and introduces her to the "waysofthe world." Her love for Levin is stronger through his ability to forgive her rejectionofhis initial offerofmarriage, and this love secures Kitty's determination to be the best wife and motherinorder to fulfill the desiresofher husband. She has a mindofher own which was allowed to flourish with thoughts and ideas after she removed herself from society and reflected internally on her situation as a woman with no future. These traits combine to create the ideal female character for Tolstoy. Anna's actions are widely rejected by society, and it is apparent that Tolstoy uses her character to show the inconsistencies, the hypocrisies in her society. Anna is rejected but yet she has stayed true to herself and has refused to be a liar and hide her love affair with Vronsky. So the question then becomes, what is Tolstoy's viewofher actions andofher life?Ofcourse, it is impossible to know for sure what views Tolstoy had regarding Anna and her actions. He certainly has created a sympathetic character, but her actions have also merited her unhappiness; so in a sense she is alsoLOblame [or her unhappiness. Here, the more important question is what was Tolstoy's viewonthe "woman question," and how does he portray his view whether consciously or subconsciously through his art. As documented by Troyat, Tolstoy shared no common interests with society, soitis safe to assume that his opinion would not be the most popular nor the most widely accepted one.Infact, Cruise states that "Tolstoy developed a reputation for orneriness,9


or, to put it more charitably, he revealed what was to become a defining featureinhis life and art: an inherent antipathy toward popular theories and accepted authorities, especiallyifthey are endorsedbymembersofhis own class" (191). Troyat and others, have documented Tolstoy's ferventbeliefthat a woman's place is in the home, being productive, and with this understanding, she would inevitably be endowed with purity and obedience to her husband. So on what sideofthe woman question is Leo Tolstoy? Neither side; Tolstoy's feelings for women are as independent as he is from the restofRussian society. Tolstoy is more concerned with aspectsofthe soul than he is with defining the functioning roleofa certain class or gender within a society.Itcan be argued that Tolstoy believed allofthese attempts to defme people, to categorize, only restrict the natural course and flowoftheir true placeinsociety.Ifone limits the roleofwomen to merely a decorative pieceofproperty, then the results will be her unfulfilled desires leading to desertion from her husband either physically or emotionally.Ifone encourages women to escape from their natural role--definedbyTolstoy to be limited to mother, wife and estate manager, and seek fulfilhnent outside this spherenthe family willsuffer,thefamily beingthechiefcornerstoneonly upon which built.He considers the roleofthe wife and mother as "the potential salvationofthe humanrace:"Such women who fulfill their mission reign over men, and serve as a guiding star to humankind; such women form public opinion and prepare the coming generation; and therefore in their hands lies the highest power, the power to savemenfrom existing and threatening evilsofour time. Yes, women, mothers,inyour hands more thaninthoseofanyone else lies the salvationofthe world. (quoted in Mandelker, 28).10


Itis clear when examining Tolstoy's fiction that his view on the "woman question" remained unanswered. Allofhis characters, female and male, who show a desire to pursue happiness, finditlies within themselves. Freedom, money, children, and love do not matter--do not secure happiness. What does matter is the ability to findistina,Essential Truth, within oneself (Nabokov, 141). Anna, too much a partofthephysical world, relied too heavily on the gratificationofthe flesh to ever reach a placeofcontentment and an understanding oflife'sistina.This is her downfall. Yet, Tolstoy masterfully creates Anna as a sympathetic character because he reveals her desire to findistina.She does not compromise her love for Vronsky by hiding their affair, but openly embraces it. This honesty is what saves her, in the eyesofthe reader, and what destroys her resulting from the pressuresofsociety.11


Social Issues Facing Women in 19thCentury RussiaFor a long time Ihadto fight against a feelingofaversion formycountry;nowI am beginning to accustommyselfto all the horrors that make up the human condition... Fortunately there is one salvation; morality, the worldofthe arts, poetry and human relations. There, nobody bothers me, policemen or town councilor. Iamalone. Outside the wind howls, outside all is mud and cold; Iamhere, IplayBeethoven and shed tearsoftendemess;or...!createmyownmenandwomenand live with them, covering sheetsofpaper... (quotedinTroyat, 179) --Leo Tolstoy The questionofthe emancipation and educationofwomen emergesinthe fourth partofAnna Karenina,Chapter 10. The setting is a dinner party where the main characters Levin, Karenin, Oblonsky, Dolly and Kitty as well as other "intellectuals" are discussing the issueofthe educationofwomen. The two viewpoints establishedbythis discussion are those who believe that women can only better serve their communities and themselvesifthey are educated, and those who consider the educationofwomen"injurious" due to the fact that it will eventually lead to their emancipation, which in turn will destabilize the most concrete featureofsociety, marriage and the family. Pestsov, the young, enthusiastic, educated, intellectual is the most vocal proponent for the educationofwomen. He expresses his viewsonthe subjectbystating: "It is a vicious circle.Womenare deprivedofrights becauseoftheir lackofeducation, and their lackofeducation results from their lackofrights" (353). The valueof12


education would then open the doors for women tobeable to hold officeingovernment agencies andbeself-employed,iftheir life so demanded that courseofaction. There arises a general consensusofagreement on the education and rightsofwomen,butinterestingly, Tolstoy pits two unexpected characters against the general consensus: Dolly and her father the Prince Shcherbatsky. Dolly argues that women who find themselves without the shelterofamanor, at very least a home, are the type who have willingly chosen their denigrated life, because the only sourceofexistence for a woman outside the home wouldbesome formofprostitution. Dolly's position isaninteresting one in that she chooses a conservative role as a wife and mother and has no pity forwomenwhose fate, though likely urunerited, is less desirable. There are two reasons Tolstoy has bestowed upon Dolly's character thisviewofwomen. The first is dueinlarge part to her husband's infidelity with "less desirable women." The second, less obvious reason liesinher position in society. She is worth something, she is valuableinher placeinsociety precisely because these clearly defined roles for women andmenexist.Ifthese roles reversed, oratvery leastifwomenwere able to become more educated and have more choicesinsociety, Dolly's value as a wifeandmomerwouidbeloweredashashappenedinmuderntirHewiththedevaluingofu\erole/jobofthemotherlhousewife. Prince Shcherbatsky is surprisingly unsympathetic to the plightofwomen'seducation and emancipation.Hehas been,upto this point, a positive, sympathetic character regarding women. His relationshiptoKitty and his reaction toherrejectionbyVronskyshowa father who genuinely loves his daughter and doesnotmerely wish to see her betrothed to a "proper and respectable man." He prefers the rugged, ill-tempered13


Levin who has never been particularly fashionable with the ladies and is not partofthe "fashionable circle," because he seesinLevin the qualities that he knows will make for a true, genuinely good husband for his daughter.Butin this scene, he holds nothing backindisparagingofPestsov's viewonthe subjectofwomen. He is portrayed as a babbling buffoon, who is making the most incredulous jokes about women at Pestsov's expense. The prince refers to an old Russian proverb: "Women's hair is long, but their wits ... [are short]" (Tolstoy, 354), with the implication that women are not capableofbecoming contributing membersofsociety. This argument takes a more personal turn when Kitty and Levin carry on the discussion.Ina more secluded location, Kitty and Levin are about to declare their love to one another. Here, before the famous chalk scene can commence, Levin and Kitty must come to terms with their past relationship. Kitty must be forgiven and Levin must come to understand her situation. It is here that the woman question re-emerges. Levin isincomplete agreement with Dolly that the woman's place is undoubtedlyinthe home. "Levin agreed with Dolly, that a girl who does not get married can find woman's work in the family. He supported this view by saying that no family can /"'.....,'['W...,.'._. .C_..__.Ll_illspensewunnelp...t-'Ol).LeVlIlSJU:SlUH;aUUlllurUCllCli:1LlCU::SLllIVle;;::understandable and better articulated than thatofShcherbatsky and Dolly, but his argument does not have enough merit to stand up to Kitty's response. She challenges his idea by exposing how shameful a position she was placed in after she had rejected Levin and been rejected by Vronsky. Her "opportunities" for marriage hadbothbeen extinguished over the courseofa week. She was ashamedofbeing rejected, and although she doesnotspecifically say so, the implications such a14


rejection would haveinher circleoffriends and societyatlarge would have been disastrous for a young girl. Since Kitty turned down Levin's earlier proposalofmarriage, she was faced with the unfortunate fact that she could have very well been forcedtoassume the roleof"old-maid" with no more opportunities for love or family life. Once her parents died, she would have had to relyonthe generosityofher sisters for support.Hereducation and training have provided her with no other skills beside thatofraising a family -what is onetodo? Levin sees this despair, as the reader is also intendedtosee it, and changes hismindimmediately and surprisingly.Hedoesthis outofhis love for Kitty,ofcourse,butalso because he is able to grasp the full impact such a life and such restrictions haveonwomenall across Russia.Bygiving the conversation overtothese two characters withwhomthe reader has become intimately acquainted, Tolstoy makes it much easier to examine these issues from the viewpointofKitty and Levin, two sympathetic characters.Inarguing for our sympathy for her, he thereby also causes us to sympathize with the plightofall women.Itis also important to consider the placementofthis conversation within the textofAnna Karenina.Atthispuini.inil:u:::lluvd,KareninisresolvedtodivorceArlliaduetoher flagrant disregard for his most urgent demand that she not see Vronskyatthe Karenin home. Anna's relationship with Vronsky isnowpublic knowledge and her pregnancy from this relationship bears the omenofdeath from the dreams both she and Vronsky are having.Herhatred toward her husbandisevident, and althoughwefeel sympathetic toward Karenin becauseofhis wife's infidelity and her utter hatredofhim,wesee Anna's predicament as one that is utterly hopeless and causedbythe unnatural union between the15


older Karenin and the young, energetic and passionate Anna. Accompanying this exposureofthe failureoftheir marriage, Tolstoy's move to highlight Anna's truthfulness, her most noble quality, accentuates the sympathetic feelings the reader has for Anna. The only real history the reader gets regarding Karenin and Anna is through the eyes ofKarenin. Tolstoy briefly alludes to the match made between the two as one not growing outoflove and desire but being merely a business arrangement.Anna'saunt essentially induces Karenin to propose outofwhat she claims is his responsibility by the mere fact that he hashadrelations with the family and therefore with Anna. To dismiss her would be a dishonor both for himself and Anna. This secures for Anna, a young, upper middle-class girl, the best possible match both for herself and her family. "Anna was betrothedbyan aunt, orphan to orphan, to an embarrassed older man. The Oblonsky children, like the Karenins and the Vronskys, but unlike the Levins and the Shcherbatskys, are highest aristocracy but weak links in a chain. Married young forthesakeofsecurity and fortune, she has it seems never lived out the beauty and gaiety in her demeanor" (Segal, 93).Inthis passage Tolstoy seems to be rejecting these unequal marriages between couples with no physical or emotional desire for each other, with anage gap sometimes ranging twentyfiVI;;:yt::ar:sOfIi:lure,WidnoCOUlltlOninterests.\Viththese events unfolding parallel to one another--the discussionofwomen's rightsatthe dinner party and Karenin's actions to initiate divorce-Tolstoy seems to be saying that Anna's behavior in this situation does not seem to be so unforgivable.11The issueoftheemancipationofwomen, or asitwill be referred to hereafter as the "woman question," arose at a time when Russian society was facing serious moral16


questions in all aspectsofsociety. The emancipationofwomen was certainly not the main focus at this time, butitwas partofthe broader rangeofissues present by mid nineteenth century. Many intellectuals and more liberal politicians were calling for an examination into the justification and fairnessofthe serflslave economy. The ability to question anything in Russia during this time was dueinlarge part to the new regimeofAlexander II whose lax rulesoncensorship and bureaucracy opened the doors for more dialogue on issues that had begun to surfaceinpolitics, literature and art. There were clearly drawn divisional lines on these hotly contested issues, but, more interestingly, these debates, which surfaceinthe art and literature, had varying degreesofsupport from across the different social strata. Freedom, in general, was the rallying cry under which most all else was lumped: serfdom, women, censorship, etc. "In this situation, literature and art must inevitably become directly embroiled in social questions, nearly always defending the interestsofthe most oppressed sectionsofsociety. They embodied the critical moodofthe age, touching its rawest nerve, ruthlessly exposing its inner conflicts and subjecting every artistic image to rigorous ethical evaluation" (Sarabianov, 103). According to Richard Stites, authorofThe Women's Liberation Movement inRussia,the initial surge in suppori,leialuneal:knuwledgtal1til1toftheissues facingwomen, came from male advocates seeking to inspire debate and bring about changeinsupportofwomen's freedom through education and employment. Greene also refers to the initial RussianLiberation movement beginninginthe 1850's stating that: "it was publicized and theorized bymensuch as Nekrasov, Chemyshevsky, Herzen, etc..." (89). Greene notes that these men did sympathize with the women's movement, because they themselves were suffering under oppression that was politicalinnature; a direct resultof17


the censorship restrictions imposed by Nicholas1.She also points out that these actions could be interpreted only as a partofthe furtheranceoftheir broader causento revolutionize allofRussia. The ideaofart being a catalyst for change was not only present within the frameworkofliterature but also pervaded the visual arts.Inorder for these artists to truly represent the most pressing societal issues in Russia they first had to determine what exactly set them apart as Russians so that the art reflected genuine interest in areas which mirrored the movements in Russia. What may have been a central areaofinterest and debate in Europe would not necessarily have correlated with issuesofinterest in Russia.Inany case, the approach to subject matter and depiction was a hotly contested and highly debatable area depending on the viewsofthe artist, whether they be a Slavophile, leaning more toward a conservative standpoint to depict various aspectsofRussian culture that reflect only Russian culture, or whether they be a Westernizer generally tending to be more liberal with a more European influence, who "saw art as an auxiliary to the reform movement, expecting painters to help edifY and improve Russia by reminding the public that the reforms, begun in the 1860's, needed to be extended and rights and the family and are evident in the worksofthepainters highlighted here. Pavel Andreevich Fedotov's (1815-52) emerges as a painter that seems to satisfY both pointsofview. He has the ability to capture the true Russian spirit while commenting on the negative aspectsofthat spirit. According to Alan Bird'sA HistoryofRussian Painting,Fedotov gained initial success as a satirical, social comedy painter. His work, due in large part to its controversial subject matter, was rejected by the regimeof18


Nicholas I, and his reputation as an artist was further challengedbythe Academy due to jealousies and rivalries. What is significant about Fedotov ishowhe viewed his work regarding its social significance. Bird states, "he commented without allowing his work to deteriorate into mere illustrationofsocial topics. He did not attack specific abuses but like his contemporaries Gogol and Ostrovsky sought to expose the greed, the hypocrisy, the materialism and the lack spirituality to be seen everywhere in the RussiaofNicholas1"(109-110).The Major's Betrothal(F-l)is both a satiric and eerie scene whose subject includes a young girl running away from her mother, father, a match-maker and an older, overweight major standing in the doorway. The only figure who displays any sympathy for the young girl and her predicament, thatofbeing forced marry amanwhomshe does not loveorhave anything in common with, is the peasant positioned to the leftofthe canvas and more toward the backgroundofthe picture. The mother is physically holding the daughter in place, seeming to yank her back toward the open door where the major is waiting, like a lion in the shadows, ready to pounce upon his prey. The mother and the daughter are almost identicalinphysical appearance aside from the mother bearing a more agedrace.lhefatherofmeyoung girl looks asifhecould be her grandfaih"r wiih his long white beard and unassuming expression.Itis clear that the mother has no scruples assigning to her daughter the same life, the same husband, she was also given as a young girl, in order to carryonthe traditionofbetrothal and marriage presentinnineteenth century Russia. The major's calm, bemused expression only confirms the worst--that the girl has no chanceofrefusal, but that, evenifshe initially rebels against19


her parents' best wishes, she will be resigned to comply due to monetary and legal agreements between the two families. Alexander II's ascension to the throne made the secondhalfofthe nineteenth century the most political and socially active timeinRussian history. ThenewTsar's more complacent attitude toward political critics gave artists, intellectuals, and social reformers a chance to step up their call to the change and advancementofsocial issues. VasilyGrigorievich Perov (1833-1882) who is considered the successorofFedotov through his socially critical subjectmatter in his art, "exemplified the political inclinationsofthe 1860's"inthat his art makes the transition from "Fedetov's satirical treatmentofvarious classes and their foibles to an exposeofinstitutions that oppressed the people" (Valkenier, 161). His painting, A Village Sermon (F-2) 1861, not only exaggerates the futilityofthepowerofthe church, the vast discrepancyinwealth and privilege revealed through the contrastofthe peasants and the wealthy landowner,butalso the critical viewofmarriageinupper class society. The husband, fat, old, sleeping, is contrasted to a young, beautiful and very curious wife who is being seduced, in the church, by an equally young and handsome courtier. Her indifference to her husband's presence and the curious and amused expression on her face give the viewer the impression that the young man's whisperings, whatever they may be, are evidently more exciting than her husband's snores. Vasily Vladirnirovich Pukirev (1832-90) belongs to the schoolofRussian painters known as the peredvizhniki which was the Russian movement begunbyartists around the timeofPerovwho were disenchanted with the formal subject matter and ideologyofthe Academyofthe Arts and sought to establish a counter-culture artistic style to more20


adequately address issuesofinterest for them. The subject ofPukirev's painting, The Unequal Marriage (F-3), aligns best to the topicofstudy for this paper. Depicted is a very young girl, head bowed and eyes downcast, positioned proximally to a much older, or old man, whom she is apparently going to wed. The fact that the priest's face is in the shadow suggests his unwillingness to shed lightonthe grave situationofthis and all unequal marriages, which will eventually lead to a scene similar to Perov's The Village Sermon (F-2). Behind the bride are positioned allofthe younger audience members, and behind the groom are the much older, more traditional membersofthe group. The absenceofwrinkles or any signsofaging whatsoever on the bride's face and hands are starkly contrasted to the deep creases lining the cheeks, brow and lipsofthe groom. "The miseryofthe bride is given added significance by the indifferentorcalculating facesofthe onlookers, the heavy goldvestmentsofthe priest and the virginal whites and greensofthe wedding dressonwhich a lighted candle throws an appropriately symbolic patchofred" (Bird, 136). iii Since the main focusofthis paper is the examinationofcertain artists and their reactions to the woman question through very selected works, this socio-historicai analysis will focus exclusivelyonthe upper-class womenofRussia. Much could be said about the peasant and working class women's emancipation, but the subjectsofall the visual and literary work remained focusedonthe upper classes. As noted earlier, womenofthe upper classes were restricted through the outward governmental policies that confined women to the home and to life as a mother. These policies empowered men to take controlofthelife and propertyofwomen once they21


were married. They were not allowed to travel without the consentofa male relative, and this limited their opportunities for work, education and experience. Outside the restrictions imposed on women by the law, were the internal restrictions placedonwomen by their limited roles in society. They were limited though their education, through their marital choices, and through their role as wife and mother to the extent that,inthe mid-nineteenth century, advocates such as Pirogov (Stites, 32) who fought for the reshapingofwoman's place in society, began their campaign to empower and enable women to achieve a new status in society. Critics tend to agree that the rearing and educationofgirls during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was debilitating for the woman's cause. Up to the ageofeight or nine, a young middle to upper class girl was raised at home under the protectionofthe father and mother and educatedinthe home. Sometimes,ifthe family could afford the expense, a private tutororgoverness was employed to educate the young girl in the rudimentsofmath and the languages as well as instruct her in the etiquetteofher class, rank and social position. Diana Greene's article titled "Mid-Nineteenth Century Domestic IdeologyinRussia"detailsmeideologyperpd,uatt::dbythegovenUllentandthepopularfictionofu1.eday to harness the young woman's understandingofherself and her role in society through the literature written exclusively for young children. Using multiple examples, Greene reveals how these fictional stories had every intention to clearly defme the social standards for young boys and girls. The stories, usually foundinchildren's magazines, set clear boundaries for a young woman's role in society illustrating the necessity for girls to be pure, pious, submissive and domestic. These veiled qualities carried hid behind22


good versus bad fictionalized characters that were placedincertain situations and succeeded by doing the right and noble thing. These stereotypes were very influential and widely accepted across muchofsociety. Their presence continued to influence women and the perceived notionsofwomen long after girlhood simply by the fact that they reappeared in the male authored literature (as opposed to the random works appearing in Russia authored by women) who, more often than not, cast their heroines with these same qualities. This transfer and adoptionofideology permeating a wider audience in society effectually created, for the nineteenth century woman, the burdenofmeeting the strict criteriaof"the ideal woman," and these didactic tracts becameaninfluential partofRussian consciousness. Greene points out that these same magazines would include stories directed to the male audience stoking the flamesofdesire to become brave, noble, heroic and recklessly daring. The obvious impact this typeof"moral story" hadonan entire generationofRussians was pervasive.Inthe first place, there is no denying the mere fact that a young girl who lacked the "ideal" qualitiesofpurity, piousness, submissiveness, and domesticity would be made to feel inadequate both to herself andinthe eyesofthose around her. HerfaithinherabiliiiesasaWUlU3nwouldbegreatlyshake.nasisShOVvlithroughthewTitiLigSofseveral female authors during and after this time who felt it was outside their realmof"defined roles" to write. The second hindrancethis typeofliterature hadonthe Russian population is that it predisposed youngmento assume that the imageofthe "ideal female" should be innateinall young women and thus created unrealistic expectations for mates later oninlife.23


Itis unfortunate that, after the initial phasesofeducation and upbringing, all a young girl hadtolook forward to were studies focused primarilyonthe natureofdomestic responsibilities and theartofattracting a husband. Stites again: "There was no higher or professional education for women until the 1870's...Secondary schools were fewinnumber and accessible only to gentry girls and a smatteringofmerchants' daughters (Stites, 4)." Indeed, the "high school" which had beenestablished by Catherine II in 1764 (Stites, 4) for the education and advancementofwomen, had become a breeding school for beautiful brides. Initially, the school was designed for the purposeofadvancing the educationofwomen and the cultural valuesofEurope, but it soon became apparent that Russian society considered it foolish to spend valuable resourcesoneducating womeninsubjects that would be unnecessary extras. A woman's place wasinthe home and she should be educated to perform her duties as skillfully and adeptly as possible. Math, science, the languages, etc., were unnecessary save for a basic understandingofthe rudimentsinorder equip her to then educateheryoung children. Education for women was limited to domestic teaching regarding roles as a wife and mother so that women could achieve both success in domestic affairs and a well balanced the word became a veritable synonym for the light-headed and ultra-naive female" (Stites, 5). Stites quotes Pirogov as saying on the dangersofsuperficial education for women:"'Hereducation usually turns her into a doll.Itconsistsofdressing her up, putting herondisplay before a classofidlers, keeping her behind a curtain, and having her perform like some marionette. But as the rust eats away the wires, she begins to see24


through the holes and tearsinthe curtain what has been so carefully hidden from her' (Stites, 32). In spiteofwhat themodemeducated reader would interpret as severe educational deprivation, Russian society and Russian women were surprisingly better educated than muchoftheir European counterparts and had more rights and responsibilities than women in other countries. Marceline Hutton, authorofRussianandWest European Women: Dreams, StrugglesandNightmares, writes that Russia was very progressive compared to other European countries. Women had control, at least to some extent, over their land, their bodies, marriage choices, and social lives. "Primogeniture was not the ruleinRussia as in Europe, and daughters could inherit land as well as moveable property. In upper class families, land was normally divided among all children... Russian women had de jure,ifnot de facto, controloftheir property after marriage" (Hutton, 31). Stites also notes that, although young girls werenotpermitted to marry without their parents' consent, they could not be coerced into a marriage they did not desire (6).Ofcourse, this typeofblatant rebellion would do more harm than good to a young girl, but it was a legal rightinRussia and should be noted. Also, more Russian women were educated with higher degrees than women in Europe, and the general consensus concludes that this was due to the support from the liberal, radical Russian men who generally sanctioned their education and their work (Hutton, 31). But, girl's education continued only until she was married; her duties were then solely focusedonbeing a wife, mother, and household manager. Pushkareva,inher book Women in Russian Historyfromtheloth_20thCentury, divides the upper classes into two groups: city dwellers and those who lived in thecountry-witheach group carrying25


certain associations with class, wealth and domestic labor. The city dwellers had to beofa more aristocratic and wealthy familyinorder to afford the luxury and expendituresoflifeinthe city. Their lives reflected a more prosperous income with idleness, social visitation, balls and the theater commononthe agendaofmany who dweltinthe city. In the less affluent upper class families, wives were sent to live on the family estate and only themanofthe house would trip to the city for business and pleasure. Rural women had numerous domestic duties but less social pressure to look and act a certain way; they were free to dresshowthey wanted and entertain whomever they chose. Domestic duties included: managing the finances and general affairsoftheestate, and the educationofthe children. "The masterofthe estate hoped to fmdinhis wife a friend mostofall" (pushkareva, 229).Nomatter what the class, all women shared the understandingofsubjection to the male headofhouse.Inher workMothersandDaughters,Barbara Engel discusses the patriarchal authorityinthe household and the understood implied promise a woman would make upon marriage--they must promise to be submissive and show "limitless obedience" (10). This idea was one to be challenged by the liberals and reformersofthemidtolatenineteenthcentury."They[iht::re[OrfIlt:f:S]tecog.nizedthattheffunilyhierarchy reproduced and reinforced the social hierarchy and that the authoritarian relations between parents and children and husbands and wives perpetuated the despotismofthe old order" (Engel, 45).IVJustasTolstoy, whenhegrew older, began searching within for life with a greater purpose than what he already knew--once marriage had revealed all its fruits, a literary26


career all its purposes, and a positionas a landowner all itsjoysand sorrows--so too does the Russian woman want to have an opportunity to makeherlife count: thus the woman question emerged. Tolstoy's accountsofsingle and married life for womeninthe two worksoffiction Family Happiness and Anna Karenina, graphically revealjusthow confming and rigid life was for a girlinnineteenth century Russia -before marriage and once she became a woman. The character MashainTolstoy's Family Happiness exhibits all the qualitiesofthe "ideal woman." According to Greene, for a girl to be pious she must always be involvedinprayer. She must submit to the male authority figures or relatives, and her choicesifshe does not marry are to either take the veilorto die young (84). These romantic notions all play outinFamily Happiness through Masha's experiences as a young girl. She is pictured at the beginningofthe story as having apathetic views about life, but is charged by her male "guardian figure" to make useofherselfbywayofeducating her younger sister. Once she realizes that she will soon be asked to marry her "guardian," she falls into a timeofintense piety: fasting, praying, going to confession,etc. She is also portrayed after her marriage asknedingduwnioptaytotheicOilSin herbedroom. Masha displays the ideal qualityofpurity that, according to Greene, canbe defined as fmding no enjoyment in the actofsex andnotbeing awareofher power to allure (85). Immediately upon marriage to Sergey, Masha is revoltedbyhis touch and shrinks into the comerofthe carriage to escape the fear that grows in her heart. He sat down besidemeand shut the door after him. I felt a sudden pang... Huddling in a comer, I looked out at the distant fields and the road flying27


pastinthe cold glitterofthemoon. Without looking at him, I felt his presence beside me. 'Is this all I have got from the moment,ofwhich I expected so much?' I thought; and still it seemed humiliating and insulting to be sitting alone with him, and so close. I turned tohim,intending to speak; but the words would not come, asifmy love had vanished, giving place to a feelingofmortification and alarm. (521) Although Tolstoy makes no reference to her fearofintercourse, we can only assume that her upbringing and her education has done little to prepare her for the experience awaiting her in the bedroom. As noted by Engel, the Russian Orthodox church considered chastity to be the highest form--the most ideal state. Even in marriage, the church required that prior to sexual relations, the icons should be turned away to face the wall and themanshould remove his cross. Women were considered sinful because they were associated with "sexual attractiveness and therefore with sin" (Engel, 10). InAnna Karenina,the main character Anna has chosen to rebel against the moral principles establishedbysociety and the church, leaving her husband and abandoning her son to live openly with her lover Vronsky. This behavior and the subsequent violent demise she suffers, carry the implication that Tolstoy was trying to convince his peers (the liberals in favorofwomen's emancipation) how ill equipped women are to handle their own affairs and to show what becomesofa women who has too much freedom. Many critics tend to read Anna's actions and interpret her character under the influenceofthe opening quote in the book: "Vengeance is mine, I shall repay," and consider Tolstoy's decisions in creating such a character with these certain flaws as his determination to condemn all women, who have the ability to make decisions for themselves, to an unhappiness equivalent to a typeof"death in life."Itwould be a shallow readingifone were to stop there and not consider all the noble qualities Tolstoy has bestowed upon his unlucky heroine. Aside from this argument that will be addressed later, Anna has been28


subject to a very limited existence voidofsignificant adult relationships, a marriage lacking any passion, and so little responsibilities that her life has no meaning.Herone saving grace is her love for her son Seryoga, but he is unable to provide the emotional and physical needs still present within her. Vronsky's admiration and attentions fulfill this need, a need that her husband's nature is utterly unable to fill. Vronsky's affections quickly complicate her relations with her son and lead her away from her family. The limitations placed upon Anna directly related to the structures established by society, limiting a woman socially and educationally, lead to the negative resultsofthe Karenin family as seen in the novel. Tolstoy not only considers what will be the fateofwomen, but then,inturn, what will becomeofthe safest and strongest establishmentinRussia, the family.InAnna Karenina,Tolstoy gives representationsofthree married women and examines their successes and failuresinpart to understand and convey what is needed to create happy, fulfilled families. Dolly has lost her husband to the affectionsofother women because she is too conservative and has no ability to relate tohimoutsideofthe very limited sphereoffamily life. Anna has lost both her husband and her child because she has too or not,ofher role as a mother and a wife. Kitty is the best and brightest exampleofwhat Tolstoy imagined to be a successful wife and mother. She is portrayed as both a little humble and a little proud; she argues with her husband but only concerning things that will be beneficial tohiminthe long run; andshe has an attractive appearance, a quick enough wit, her own thoughts and feelings and her own senseofindependence outsideofher role as wife and mother while remaininginher roleasboth. She has achieved the29


statusof"ideal woman" --the representation given by many authors and painters during the nineteenth century. v Muchofthe criticism examining the workofTolstoy and other male authors during the early to late nineteenth century assumes a negative view toward these authors by arguing that they helped to limit the already diminished viewofwomen by negatively reflecting what they considered "weak" feminine emotions and highlighting the desirable women as being attractive and reserved--having no voiceofher own. Rosalind Marsh examines the female characters in Russian literature writteninthe early to late nineteenth centuryinorder to identifY apparent ideological trends establishing and/or limiting women's rolesinsociety. She opens her article by examining the literary traditionsofthe 1850s-1917 and how, evenifa female character were depicted as the central figure, or the protagonist, her role was limited to illuminating the central male figures in the work. Referring to the ideal womaninRussian literature, Marsh notices the emergent trends: the woman asthe"'object', 'immanence', 'nature', 'passivity', or 'death' as opposed to the man as 'subject', 'transcendence', 'culture', 'activity',H......n',..'.........'",1..,-,'...1,."l,,c._.1'...1.._.C'.....'llIe'IneOillY"wonnyuanInawoman,m.::t::uruIIlglOreaullIgs0.1Celt&il1texts, is beauty. Indeed Marsh brings attention to the point by stating that plain women hardly appear in a text, and when they do,itis always with disdain and disapproval.AmyMandelker's work FramingAnnaKarenina opposes the formulaic, feminist readingofTolstoy's work by providing substantial evidence to prove that not only was Tolstoy not identified as a leading proponent oflimiting the rights and freedomsofwomen, but that he, over the courseofhis life, became an active advocate for the30


advancementofwomen's rights through his writings. The chapter titled "The MythofMisogyny" highlights Tolstoy's position concerning women while examining the debates surfacing across Europe and Russia during the latterhalfofthenineteenth-century. Whileitis significant that Tolstoy's narrative voice and his depiction and placementofcharacters can be read within the frameworkofhis fervent beliefs that a woman's place should beinthe home, caring for children and attending to the needsofthe estate, Mandelker also points out that these duties were consideredbyTolstoy to beofhigher significance and more valuable than the "bourgeois, male-dominated work force" (27).Asnoted in the Introduction, Tolstoy considered the dutyofthe female, specifically the wife and mother, to be the cornerstone upon which allofsociety is bnilt and upon whichitrelies and rests. You [women] alone know--not that false, showy kindofworkintop hats and illuminated rooms thatmenofour circle call work--instead you now that genuine work given to peoplebyGod...You know how, after thejoysoflove, you waitinagitation, terror, and hope for that tormenting conditionofpregnancy that will make you an invalid for nine months, will bring you to the brinkofdeath and to unendurable suffering and pain; you know the natureoftrue work...when, immediately after these torments, without a break, without a rest, you takeonanother burdenoflaborsand suffering--nursing, during which time you renounce...the most overwhelming human need, do not sleep through a single night for years, and sometimes, often, you do not sieep at aii ror nightsonend (quotedinMandelker, 23).Itis also interesting to note that the male charactersinTolstoy's work are, according to Mandelker, examined and judged within a more rigorous and specifically stringent setofstandards than are his female characters. This helps to advance the argument that Tolstoy was not deliberateinhis attack upon womeninhis works, but that he was concerned with the advancementofall individuals through a moral examination.Ashas been the themeofthis work and will continue to be the pervading theme31


throughout, Tolstoy's direction and inspirationasa writer was not to objectifY and trivialize hisartby attaching current ideology that would have no placeinthe conscious understandingofthe readerofthe future, but his hope and aim was to create fiction that would transcend the sphereoftime by highlighting and focusing his energiesonthemes, situations, and characters universal--exploring the universal truths residing under the surfaceofman's soul.32


Family Happiness: The Emerging IdealHowever important a political literature may be, a literature that reflects the passing problemsofsociety,andhowever necessary to national progress, there is still another typeofliterature that reflects the eternal necessitiesofall mankind, the dearest and the deepest imaginingsofa whole race, a literature that is accessible to all and to every age, one without which no people has been able to grow powerful and fertile (quoted in Troyat, 190). --Leo Tolstoy The literature referred tointhe previous quotation refers to a typeofliterature that faces no boundaries historicallyorsocially but can be influential throughout time since it examines the deepest partsofhuman action. Tolstoy's rebellious nature had notionsoflife, love, politics and marriage that did not directly line up with those from his own class and profession (writers). When Chernyshevsky and Turgenev were writing literature imbued with the underlying tenantsofwomen's emancipation from marriage and family, Tolstoy was seemingly reinforcing the notionsoflimitingwomen's roles by placing his most idealized characters within the confinesofmarriage and motherhood. His work also seemingly negates our painters negative representationsofmarriage as seen earlierinThe Major's Betrothal(F-l)andThe Unequal Marriage(F-2). For, although Tolstoy's heroine inFamily Happinessseems doomed to suffer the fateofthe main female subjectsinthese worksofart, his portraitofthe marriage, even though divided by age and interests, is celebrated as the supreme achievementofrelationships and a placeofunity33


and equality shared between the husband and wife. Cruise sums up Tolstoy's personality succinctly: "Tolstoy developed a reputation for orneriness, or, to put it more charitably,herevealed what was to be a defining featureinhis life and art: an inherent antipathy toward popular theories and accepted authorities, especiallyifthey were endorsed by membersofhis own class" (191). But Tolstoy's reason for disavowing the artistic practicesofhis fellow writers was not because he was trying tobedifficult, but more importantly, and what makes his work far superior to thatofother writers during his time, becausehewanted to address the underlying issues facing not only his own classofpeople, but those issues which would prevailinsociety throughout history irrespectiveofclass, culture and time. So that what becomes apparent in Tolstoy's work are issues that reflect universal conflicts emerging in the modern as well as nineteenth century marriages versus the workofwriters afore mentioned and the painters studied whose goal was merely to highlight a central issue facing women, women's rights, and marriageinRussia during the nineteenth century. Many critics take Family Happiness to be a direct reflectionofTolstoy's dealings with Valerya, a girl much younger than Tolstoy, from a country estate, whose brotherToisl0YhadbeenIuaUegUiLrdlailover (Cruise, 193). Several critics cite Tolstoy'smaniacal pedantry over Valerya as some misogynistic fantasy come true. Here he had a virgin, both physically and emotionally, that he could teach and train in all the ways he thought most desirableina bride and a woman. Letters by Tolstoy addressed to Valerya reveal this pedantic desire to educate his young friend. The subjectsofthese letters include everything from encouragingherto dressonher own to the typeofexercise she should practice (Cruise, 193). Bearing thisinmind, Tolstoy was keenly fondoflists and34


structure in his own life and, without giving him too much credit, his approach to Valerya seems to fall directly into his lineofthinking and living (Troyat, 59). Their relationship failed when Valerya received a "proper" city education, getting involved and accepted in the higher social circlesofsociety, and decided she didn't enjoy being told what to dobya man who wasn't her husband or her father. She became successfulbyher own charms, much the same way as Masha does inFamilyHappiness,and didn't feel she needed to practice such a disciplined lifestyle to be successful. Tolstoy's experiences heavily influenced the subject matter and characterizationofFamily Happiness,where a young girl is pursuedbyanolder, more worldly man who sees in Masha a pliable personality. Aside from the superficial setting though, it is difficult to ascertain whether or not Tolstoy develops the plot through experiences that are autobiographicalinnature.Itcan be argued that Masha's character becomes the archetype for manyofTolstoy's later female characters. Natalia Kisseleff, in her article "Idyll and Ideal: AspectsofSentimentalism in Tolstoy's Family Happiness," contends that "Tolstoy's philosophic influence for the work -the characterizationofMasha is based largely on the Tolstoyian "ideal"ofa female character -his mother (or the his life. Without a concrete figure toaffirmornegate his childhood imaginingsofhis "perfect mother" every great quality was plausible in her (Troyat, 16). But Masha's figure, evenifshe does possess someofthose qualities, only does so because they areofTolstoy's own imaginingsofwhat an ideal woman would be like. Interestingly, Tolstoy's ideal female characters are not derived from some elevated, unapproachable type which traditionally held sway over the presentation,35


development, and characterizationofdeveloping the heroines in Russian novels but they come packaged with their own setofflaws. Alexander Boyd, in his book Aspectsofthe Russian Novel, places Tolstoy's female characters into three main categories: The first group includes the women who realize and dutifully follow the wayofdomestic dedication. Tolstoy upholds these ideals, but the limitationsoftheir single-minded pathofservice and care blunt even his own interest (qualities seen in many heroinesinother Russian novels -myvoice). [ ... ] The second group includes those women who have transgressed these precepts and flout their own independence as dangerous rebels [ ... ] the third group includes girls animated by romantic love who anticipate withjoyand trepidation the demands which will be made upon theminmarriage (Boyd, 94). Masha canbeconsidered the archetypal example for the third groupoffemale characters. Indeed, Kisseleff also describes Tolstoy's ideal female character as having "an impulsive generous nature, her girlish dreams and her musical talent" (339). Critics who tend to label Tolstoy as a misogynist have neglected to recognize his preferred treatmentofhis female characters who don't have it all figured out, and who aren't exactly satisfied withjustbeing a wife and mother but are seeking and searching for theirownidentity irrespectiveofgender, class or social station. The "first group" categorized by Boyd unwholesome viewsofwomen, but they aren't. Masha must come to terms with her responsibilities and her life, Kitty must be rejected by V ronsky and be humiliated and humbled, Dolly must constantly battle her anguish over her own inadequaciesinlightofher husband's infidelities, and Anna must battle her soul for acceptanceofher actions. These are the characters that come to exemplify the sympathetic femaleinTolstoy's novels.36


Inaddition, his useofthefirst person narrative from the pointofviewofMasha was and still is considered a highly remarkable featureofthe work. Until Tolstoy's time no male authors had undertaken such a challenging form, aside from Chernyshevsky's feeble attempt with the character Vera PavlovnainWhat is to be Done, and Tolstoy does so with such amazing sincerity and accuracy that one cannot help but credit his unique abilities to observe and record the unspoken feelingsofa younggirLAlexander Boyd states, "This was a foretasteofTolstoy's geniusinfusing himself into hischaracters, a genius which gives his novels their peculiar power" (92-3). Indeed, it is nothing shortofan almost supernatural power that allows him such a giftofintuitiveness.11Family Happiness is centered on the conrtship, love and marriageofa young woman, Masha,justpast youth at the ageofeighteen, to a much older, experienced man, Sergey. Masha has been confined to her family's country estate for the wholeofthe winter after the tragic lossofbothher parents has left her and her younger sister orphaned. Masha is at the ageof"coming out" for girlsofsociety in Russia, but has been unable to participateinthe social eventsofthe winter becauseofher isolation andsolitary condition. Inere is onlymeUtiVUlt=Uguvctne$Swhoha::scuredfOIthetwogirlsand has now become the only one suitable and capableofbeing their guardian. The educationofa young, upper-class girl at this timeinRussia consisted in preparing her for her debut into society when all heads would hope to be turned and the girl would successfully make a good match.Itis important to pay particular attention to the fact that Masha has been deprivedofthe social life that we can assume, althoughitis not directly stated, has been the sole purposeofher upbringing.Itis in this isolated state37


that Sergey Mikhaylych enters her life, and enters it accompanied by the arrivalofthe long awaited spring. Tolstoy qnite frequently draws umnistakable parallels to his characters, their emotional and spiritual state, and to their natural surroundings, especially the changingofthe seasons. Kisseleffrefers to these elementsinthe work--"the useofpastoral elements, the repeated lyrical images (the garden, the lilac, the nightingale), the quasi-allegorical useofthe seasons are some other characteristics Tolstoy shares with the sentimentalists" (342). After the long, gloomy winter wearing its bleak aspect on Masha's expression, Sergey and the arrivalofspring give her a feelingofnew life--a new start.Itwas six years since I had seenhimlast. He was much changed--older and darkerincomplexion; and he now wore whiskers which did not become him at all; but much remained the same--his simple manner, the larger featuresofhis honest open face, his bright intelligent eyes, his friendly, almost boyish, smile (481). Her initial reaction to Sergey's appearance was oneofdisappointment. Richard Gregg, authorof"Psyche Betrayed: The Doll's HouseofLeo Tolstoy," comments on the unusual aspectoftheir relationship-"the peculiarityoftheir courtship is the dearthofphysical attraction. From the very beginning,...Masha confesses that Sergey does not fit her notionofmasculine good looks" (274), Gregg further elaboratesonher physical alienation from her husband once she has married him and the fact that their conjugal relations must accentuate how terribly "strange" he appears to her. Throughout the courseofthe spring and summer months Sergey's influence on Masha's life increases steadily. He urgesherto make herself useful, to not be so selfabsorbed, to be active in educating her sister to keep herself from her depression. All these things Masha did willingly, and it isinthis light that the mutual connection between38


man and girl take root. He has become the replacement for her father--an instructor and a protector that is so valuable to one so fragile and exposed as Masha. She recalls several times in the first sectionofthe story how her mother had, when she was just a child, told Mashaofher admiration for Sergey Mikaylych and her desire that one day Masha wouldbeso lucky as to marry such a man. She hears her mother's voice in this liaison and feels assured that there could be no other man more suitable for her than Sergey. Some critics see this liaison between the older man and the younger woman and the love expressed between as bearing the markofa father--daughter relationship versus the lover to lover relationship. To an extent the prior is evident within the initial bond the two create. The fact that Sergey was a close friend to Masha's father, that it was not at all scandalous for a very young girl to be wed to a man her father's age as seen in the paintings referred to above, and Masha's own need for guidance and safety in a timeofsuch isolation make Sergey an idealized father figure re-emerging in the house.Inher bookNever Marry a Girl with a Dead Father,Helen Hayward comments on this aspectoftheir initial relationship, "Even though the gapofnineteen years sets the youth and beautyofMash a against the moody middle ageofSergey, Masha is irresistibly drawn to him. Above all he reminds herofher father" (66). Indeed, even Masha was at a loss to understand the natureofthe relationship initially: That he loved me, I knew; but I did not yet ask myself whether he loved me as a child or as a woman....I feltita better and worthier course to showhimthe good pointsofmy heart and mind thanofmybody. My hair, hands, face, ways--all these, whether goodorbad, he had appraised at once and knew so well...but my mind and heart he did not know (492).39


This father/daughter relationship between the two characters eventually turns into a more carnal, passionate bond. The scene in the cherry orchard is decidedly the most poignant turning point in their relationship, when Masha finally gets a glimpse into Sergey's heart and sees a weakness there which she hitherto did not realize had existed. She is all the more startled because she is the rootofthisweakness and she feels embarrassed to have uncovered it in such a sly, deviant way--by sneaking into the orchard where Sergey had forbade her to go. Once this occurs, Masha unwittingly asserts herself asanequal in the relationship. In "Tolstoy's Path Toward Feminism" Barbara Monter writes "Tolstoy hints that Masha has another side, almost a will to power, or at least to equality with Sergey" (525, Monter). This equality is something that is never apparent in the paintings focusingonthe young girl married to the older man. Indeed, the relationship between Masha and Sergey which is the more poetic aspectofFamily Happinessis non-existent in the paintings. Not only are the men much older than the young girls, but the gap in the emotional closeness exacerbates the gross alienation between the two.Nowthat she understands his intentions, she is more sureofherself and begins emotionally preparing for the proposal. Although Sergey is initially unwilling, becauseofhis fearoffaiiing in love and being "happily married," he cannot resist the allureofMasha's youth and beauty and proposes through an elaborately disguised dialogue. Insecurity creates a cautious lover, and throughout the scene between the two it would seem as though he would rather be denied her hand and live with a broken heart than be accepted and have the uncertaintyofunhappiness and despair awaiting him. In this telling scene, Masha seems to be mistressofthe domain and pulls the words from Sergey's lips in order to accept.40


At this pointTolstoy has successfully shown the weaknessesofthe two characters--Masha andherinexperienced heart, and Sergey and his insecure heart. He has made them equalinall respects, and we know that Sergey's desire for Masha both physically and emotionally allows Masha to become his equal. This reality was one that Tolstoyinhis own life was awareofinhis relationship with women, but not one that he would have liked to own. But, there is no male versus femaleinthis gameofmarriage, but two very vulnerable people who have givenofand exposed themselves to the mind, body and soulofeach other. The two lovers enter into the next phaseoftheirlove through the marriage and Masha's move away from their old family, the stabilityofher youth, into the houseofSergey and his aging mother, where she adopts her new role as mistress and wife. In this sectionofthe text, Tolstoy focuses very little on the individuals, and what is so breathtaking and poetic is his ability to knit the soulsoftwo fictional lovers together merely through words. Days, weeks, two months,ofseclusion in the country slipped by unnoticed, as we thought then; and yet those two months comprised feelings, emotions, and happiness, sufficient for a lifetime (522). He captures conjugal blissinall its glory and idealism and lingers therejustlong enough to establish the sweet tasteinthe mouthsofhis readers so they will long and wish for such passages again between the two characters. Family happiness has been attained; Sergey's desire for married life fulfilled, and Masha's desire for a strong armofprotection gained.Itis significant that such a blissful time should take place in the country, and what Sergey considers Utopia becomes tiresome and lonely to Masha. For, once Sergey has41


had his fillofhis young wife, he becomes immersed once again in his work and spends less time with her. She, being fullofenergy and vitality, has nothing to exhaust her and becomes increasingly irritable. "The padded footstepsofinquisitive servants; the increasingly prolonged daytime absenceofher kind but uncommunicative husband; the omnipotent mother-in-law, who imposes an "inflexible routine"onthe entire household [ ... ] lends to Masha's existenceanempty, almost prison-like character" (Gregg, 274-5). Masha is getting a tasteoftherealityoflifeafter passion and romance and the newnessofa relationship have passed. Sergey has experienced, from what the reader can glean, these ebbs and flowsinromantic relationships and adjusts accordingly without being completely awareofthe change taking placeinMasha. Although Gregg makes a clear case for Masha's life becoming increasingly empty, his angle is to prove that Tolstoy's aim was to show Masha's limitation as she is unable to adapt to hernewsurroundingsu"Tolstoy assigns to his female characters an essentially static role that excludes those stagesofdevelopment which are granted to the more active, more dynamic male"(270). Allofthis to argue the point that Tolstoy was trying to create a frigidly, rigid environment leading up to the "rebellion"inMasha. Gregg implies that her character had1 1 11'.1ro1,1,....1 1 1 .1'..<1.1'1J '...1...nothlngto00pnyslcauyWHnana"{natneTlIlt::,nauoeeuWiui a Clll1uOIWIUlan occupationofsome kind, would have served a different purpose and beenmetwith different ends. Not so! She is a child entering the adult world. A wise professor once commented: "What would children doifthey found out that life wasn't purely for enjoyment; whatifthey found out that life was really boring?" This is the case with Masha.42


Asdiscussed earlier, Masha is portrayed as the young, spontaneous, fulloflife girl who anticipated with trepidation the fulfillmentofallofher fantasies and desires.Nowshe is simply coming to the harsh, realistic conclusion that many times life tends to fall into routine, mother-in-Iaws are hard to live with, and husbands aren't made to be chatty social friends for gossip and giggles. At the same time, Tolstoy isn't reproving Masha for her naivety, like many critics would have us believe, he is merely revealing this aspectofher character to help create the necessary tension (thatofher apathy toward her husband and their eventual distance) all good stories require in order to achieve the comfortable, satisfying resolutionofa more mature, dynamic Masha who is coming to understand her role as a wife and mother and her placeinsociety. Tolstoy's purposeincharacterizing Masha as not yet knowledgeableofthe world,orat least the fashionable world, becomes clear when Sergey takes Masha to St. Petersburg for the winter--into the fashionable world. Here, in the city, life comes alive to Masha. Her beauty and freshness impress all who comeincontact with herandshe thrivesonthe attention she receives. Sergey sees his wife's attraction to the society which he abhors and slowly withdraws from her--Ieavingherto rise and fall in this worldItis no surprise that Tolstoy would juxtapose the two settings so dramatically: the city and the country, for Tolstoy preferred his lifeinthe country. He despised city life and the vain flattery and superficial relationships that thrivedondeception, immorality, vanities and the like.Itis symbolic that the first fruitsofMash a's and Sergey's love be severedinsuch a place as the city. Sergey, in his fear that he will lose his wife to the flatteries and gamesofhigh society, speaks harshly against her conduct while in the city.43


Masha,inher innocent youth, does not understand her folly and, what is more, is shattered emotionallybyher husband's tone and language that abusehercharacter. He has been her support and guiding light, what she has lived and breathed for, the oneinwhom she has placed her identity. This outburst from Sergey, a resultofhis frustration, sets the wheelsinmotion; the wall has been erected almost instantaneously, and their love suffocates. What shocks the reader even more than the rift caused by the argument is the stale lingeringoftheir former life. Just lines before Sergey rebukes Masha, as she watcheshimpace up and downintheir drawing room, she assumes that he is thinkingoftheir wonderful lifeinthe country and she too reflects on the anticipated arrivaloftheir familiar home with longing. He is dreaming alreadyof...our moming coffeeinthe bright drawing room, and the land and the laborers...and our secret midnight suppers...Not for all the balls and all the flattering princesinthe world would I give up his glad confusion and tender cares (539). With these thoughts present in her mind, she is unprepared for what comes from her husband and with an instinctive defensive position, she responds, playing into the misguided assumption her husband has adopted. Page after page the reader must endure their estranged position with one another. A child is born and Masha shows no emotional response to motherhood, while Sergey becomes a doting father but a neglectful husband. The scenes that were once fullofbeauty, life and love, have been replaced by a dialogueofstrangers. Masha has only two real threadsofexperience in her short-lived, secluded life: thatofher husband and thatofsociety. Since her heart has been cutofffromthatofher husband's, she inevitably turns to the open armsoffashionable society--a cold, emotionless place where one can44


exist without feeling. Cruise writes, "Masha's excursion into society, initially a playground for desire, becomes a battle field for self-identification; she must lose control before she can win" (195).Itwould seemthat Tolstoy is punishing Masha for becoming too enamored with social life and thatitis Sergey who has suffered under the selfish pursuitsofhis wife. And indeed, many writers who are quick to link Tolstoy's personal life to his life as a writer have come to these conclusions, but there is enough evidence within the textthat clearly finds fault at the same timewith both characters and with neither. They are both at fault because they have mistakenly allowed their conflict to go unresolved--denying each other the forgiveness and understanding that could heal such a breach, and they are neither at fault because there will always exist the inevitable declineofany marriage from its initial heightoflofty and passionate love to a more rational, productive love. Both Boyd and Kisseleff refer to the shiftinprose style and plot from the beginning to the endofthe workbyTolstoy as a meansofmoving from the unstable, emotional highofromantic love, which inevitably lasts for only a short time,inorder to make way for a more steady, long-lasting and rewarding lovetobe the foundation for a secure home lifeupon whichtobuikiafarniiy;"lhepatternofthenovelisnottheshatteringofanidealofmarried life.Itis, instead, the dream which is recaptured and which the actual and idealized are brought together" (Kisseleff, 340). Her flight from her home, her family and her responsibilities are a resultofher lackofdirection, the blame for which lies in part with her husband and in part which society which places the valueofappearance above the valueofcharacter. What good can she serve, what value does she have now that her life with her husband is all but45


spent, how can she make a positive impactonher world through her actions? These questions, although not directly posed by Masha, are prevalent throughout the text as she wanders from party to party, from town to town, following but never leading and never taking her own life seriously because she has never been given the opportunity. Society offers her false securityinher success merely because she is amicable, well dressed and good lookillg, and indeed these are the attributes that she most admiresinherself. She refers to becoming a mother as almost a secondary occurrence that has no great impactonher emotional, spiritual and especially her social life.Atfirst the feelingofmotherhood did take holdofme with such power, and produceinme such a passionofunanticipated joy, that I believed this would prove the beginningofa new life for me. But,inthe courseoftwo months, when I began to go out again, my feeling grew weaker and weaker, till it passed into mere habit and the lifeless performanceofa duty (546). The changeinMasha is caused by two significant events. The first is her realization, through a new competition with a younger, more attractive and wealthy female, that she has come to base her valueonhow she is viewed and received by society. The second comes when she tottersonthe edgeofseduction and lust and,onher own, pulls back away from her own desire and selfishness. What eventually propels Sergey and Masha back together is her understandingofher own identity outsideofhis, her acceptanceofher place as a mother and wife (not lover) and her acceptanceofSergey as a protecting, fatherly figure rather than a young, impetuous lover. Her only real position,inthe worldinwhich Tolstoy lived, would be thatofa mother and wife,butthis is not some degradation to Tolstoy. And we see that Masha has also willingly accepted her place. She dabbledinthe occupationofcourtesan; she played the gamesofsociety--the only occupation for women outside mothering--and46


she saw the utter waste produced. She is ready for the bountiful rewardsofmothering. We, asmodemreaders, may not like what we see.Wemayvery much want Masha to run away with the Italian courtier and find true love ... butinreality, such a shallow, superficialmancould not even offer her a tenthofwhat Sergey offers her. And whatofSergey? Should he suddenly, quite in the styleofthe sentimental novels, change his attitude--his whole demeanor and throw his arms around Masha declaring his ardent love for her? This would be entirely outofkeeping with his character throughout the story. Tolstoy must maintain his ideology regarding literature as quoted at the beginningofthissection. His brieflove affair with sentimental novels quickly becomes overshadowedbyhis whole-hearted embraceofthe realist traditionsofwhich he was a major exemplar. Many critics merely perceive Tolstoy as having a flat, two-dimensional viewofwomen, but this is inconsistent considering his character as an extremely complex man sometimes to the pointofbeing surprised by his own behavior and beliefs.Itis not the intentionofthiswork to deny the negative views he espoused regarding women, but it must alsobeconsidered that he was all too eager to immerse himselfintheir presence,nutonlyst::xuallybutalso Intellectuallyandenlotiollally. Evidence abollilds revealingsomeofhis closest relationships to be those he had with women: his aunt, his babushka, his wife, his wife's sister. Ruth Benson's agendainWomen in Tolstoy is to discredit Tolstoy's fine perception into the human mindinorder to prove beyond a shadowofa doubt that Tolstoy's aiminlife was to put the womaninher place and identifY her as the weaker, less intelligent creature. She states, "Family Happiness is a fictionalized treatise on the47


appropriate roles and behavior for women" (Benson, 23); this idea clearly follows closely the ideas espoused by Boris Eikenbaum regarding the work.Itcould be quite impossible and inclined toward too positive a viewofTolstoy but I wonderifhiswritings do not reflect a social reformerinhis fIrst throwsofan issue that has not fully risen to his conscious thought. He encourages others and is inspired to benefIt othersinsome way and to fIll his life with a meaningful existence by running this course. For a woman during this period, Tolstoy suggests that she did not, like men, to have the opportunity to fInd value by the deeds she does for others. She, beyond any hopeofchange, is shackled in a way to either be defIned through her role as mother and wife, which cannot be fulfIlling since marriage takes theturnofcool indifference according to Tolstoy, or to emerge onto the social scene where she is appraised not as a human being with good and noble qualities, but by her appearance and her ability to perform in frontofan "audience" comprisedoftheshallow social world Tolstoy adamantly rejects. What is a girl to do? According to Benson's readingofthe work, and here I must agree, Masha has every desire to share in the labor and managementofthe estate with Sergey, butherejects her offerofhelp and explains that she needn't botherabouisuchaffairs.HeisliInitingherexperiencesand,inturn,denyingherthesatisfactionofproductive pleasure. Benson's absurd notion that Tolstoy has deliberately made Masha out to be the antagonist who has ruined the marriage for the once happy couple while presenting Sergey as the noble, quiet gentleman who has the patience and loving kindness to allow Masha to learn the strugglesoflifeonher own through trial and error is clearly agenda driven; "Masha is clearly the partner who most seriously endangers the marriage. Sergey48


Mikhailych is portrayed consistently as sober, rational, and mature--guiltyofonly too much compassion" (Benson, 40). Sergey's initial mistake was to offer no guidance and to expect such a young and inexperienced girlofseventeenoreighteen to fortifY herself against the pleasures and sinsofsociety. There are a numberofinstancesinthe story that point toward Sergey's mistakeinthis area, and that would only lead one to assume that Tolstoy was deliberateinfocusing the lenseofhis narrationinsuch a way as for the audience to be able to see Sergey's failings, his faults. The noble Masha, as she has been presented, especially when she quite willingly wants to go back to the country and is ready to refuse the [mal party (and a chance to meet the prince), has been exposed as a loving, suppliant wife and in every way still sensitive to the unspoken desiresofher husband. The real problem arises notbyfaultofone over another or vice versa, but through the equally harsh, hurtful words said by both. The true falling apartofthe relationship is the fact that there is no reparation made after the blissful marriage union has beentomand so each continues to tug, being driven in different directions by their emotional burdens, and eventually the tear is so great thatitcan never be repaired. What so manycritics negiecttomentiun, whenn::adiIlgandanalyzingauauthofonce they have becomeso intimately familiar with his life, is that the work is fiction, and an author is many times propelled notjustby his own beliefsofhis limited viewofthe world, but by a force to create and make real for us the characters that have only existed for the author. Isn't a writer's sole aim to awaken within his reader the feelingsofcompassion and empathy so that the characters become real human beings whose stories arouse our most latent thoughts about our own lives? Especially when referring to Tolstoy, who is unarguably49


contradictoryinhis own theories and actions regarding life, one should take his quixotic mind into account when analyzing his writing and not only his emotionally charged beliefs.50


Tolstoy's Triumph: Seeing Beyond Gender"The heroofmytale, whom I love with all the powersofmysoul, whom I have tried to portrayinall its beauty, who has been, is, and willbebeautiful, is truth (quoted in Paggiolini, 12). --Leo TolstoyAnnaKareninaencompasses a wide rangeofideology that Tolstoy reveals through the action and the characters in the book. To approach the work as a feminist tractbya liberal author or as something perpetuating the misogynistic tendencies Tolstoy held as amanwouldbedoing such a monumental work an injustice. For it is notjustthe characters like Anna, Dolly, and Kitty whose actions and reactions can define for us, the readers, what Tolstoy may have considered the proper roleofwomen in society,butitis also the society in which these characters must interact, the rules, morals, values and manners they are obligedtouphold as citizensofRussia, and the expectations andreactionsofthemenandchiidrenthesefemaleillfluellceandbyWhOll1theyare influenced. Aside from these considerations, one must also consider the above quote that reveals Tolstoy's persistent attitude toward the function ofliterature andartina society--to reveal truth. This is why amodemreader can read Tolstoy'sAnnaKareninaand place himselfinthe positionofanyoneofthe main characters. Tolstoy has removed the restrictionsoftime and place and created, instead, situations, problems and eternally perplexing questions that are timeless and ageless. Herein lies the difficultyindebating,51


discussing anddeciding whether this work is, indeed, a treatise promoting rights, the freedomofwomen, or whether it is a work denouncing women through the ultimate failure and suicideofthe heroine Anna.Itthen seems that the only way to do such a work as this justice, is to continually keep in mind Tolstoy's ultimateaimthatwas to be an arbiteroftruth above all else. As is noted by several critics, even Tolstoy himself had to come to terms with what he wanted to produceinthe work versus what would be the most honest renderingofthese characters he had created. "Tolstoy approached the worldinthis anti-historical manner because he did not really believeinprogress. Human life seemed unchanging and so the problems that faced him and his contemporaries were not 'topical'--the woman's question, crime...but those that had confrontedmanthroughout history" (Andrew, 119).Itis to Anna that all eyes gravitate, whether within the bookoroutside the book. Her character is the one who brings depth to the workintermsofher characterization and the omniscient narrator's skilled renderingofher inner thoughts and feelings; she is the one who has perplexed the critics as to what sideofthewoman question Tolstoy was really on; she is the one who, it seems, even managed to perplex Tolstoy. Troyat goes so far as to make the aHegation that T oistoy, although initially deciding upon a female seductress who was "the devil" herself with an ugly appearance, had begun to fall in love with his seductress, transforming her into the beauty she becomes for the reader; her charms had reached out and even touched the man who had created her (359). As romantic a notion as that may be, what seems more fruitful, when attempting to come to terms with Anna, is to analyze her character through the logical approach reached by the critic Boyd. He contends that it wasn't through some phantasmagoric love affair with his52


character that Tolstoy finally reachedthepinnacleoffeminine characterization, becauseitis undisputed that her character does reach such a height, butitmore likely resulted from a very logical approach to her character, and has to do with that subtle but reliable characteristic Tolstoy strove so consistently to adhere to--truth. To render Anna believable to a scrupulous audience, her fall into depravity must be convincing. In order for that to occur, she must fall from something, from somewhere, and a sufficient fall does not merely constitute a superficial fall from the pretentious wife to the lying lover but must include a moral decline, a battleofthe spirit and will, so that the only possible solution would be suicide; precisely because society lacks the ability to rescue her. "Annajustcannot be the vain, self-indulgent creature who ruins worthy men; despair, which leads to the deathofAnnainthe context Tolstoy proposes, the contextoffutility and self-disgust, is not feltbythe kindofwoman Tolstoy set out to portray. Shemust(my emphasis) have the qualities which are capableoffeeling utter spiritual desolation--honesty, awareness, sensitivity, and intelligence" (Boyd, 96).Notonly must she have these qualities, Tolstoy then demandsofAnnathat she be the "ideal" moral female character present before us at the beginningofthenovel.Itcould be argued that, to a certain degree, every person has the good qualities Anna possesses, but Anna radiates goodness with every fiberofherbeing: fromthefirst glimpseofher at the train station chatting about missing her son, when her thoughts and heart are then directed toward the familyofthe conductor who hasjustbeen killed, to her warmth toward Dolly and Dolly's children, and even her ability to captivate the young and lovely Kitty with her radiant beauty and charm. Allofthese circumstances bring the reader proximally closer to loving and accepting Anna--no matter what.53


So, what causes her to fall from such lofty heights so quickly into the book and so easily into the arms ofVronsky?Itcould be argued that a woman, had she the true moral character we believeAnnato have at the beginningofthe work, wouldn't be influenced so easily to move away from the comfortable worldofthe society and family she has come to know intimately and trust implicitly. But this argument wouldn't stand up to the true force at workinAnna's soul, and that would be love. She has been, as noted by many critics, suppressing latent desires for companionship, affection and love since her earliest union with a man, her husband Alexey. Referring to the passage conceruing Anna and Alexey's engagement and betrothalinthe previous second sectionofthis paper, we can see that not only was Anna most likely forced into a union with amanfor whom she had no desire, but that Alexey, outofguilt, was pushed into a comer to defend his honor and marry the girl he had hitherto unwittingly been pursuing. This passage is crucialiffor no other reason than to give the reader the only glimpse into the pastofAnnaand Alexey in order to more fully understand why they are bothinsuch vulnerable positions at the beginningofthe work. Referring to the painting titled The Unequal Marriage (F-3) gives the reader a visual representationofthe possible age difference between Anna and Alexey. Also The Major's Betrothal (F-I), although depicting the major as more bloodthirsty for the fleshofhis young bride than Alexey was for Anna, still captures the predicament Anna may have found herself, being forced into a marriage by her guardian aunt rather than choosing for herself the man she would have married. This creates a much more complicated setofcircumstancesinthe marriage than in Family Happiness, as neither was too willing to marry the other. For Alexey was forced to marry because it was the54


honorable thing to do and not because he desired to share his life with Anna, and for Anna because she was the wardofher aunt and it wasexpectedthat she obediently honor the decisions made for her regarding her husband, etc.Itcould almost be deduced, and indeed most likely was the case, that the one who suffered and sacrificed more for the marriage was Alexey. From his youth as an orphan through adulthood, Karenin had no plans to marry, knowing himself well enough to know it did not suit him. His character is cast as oneofvery high scruples and one basedonsocial morality, and so, when Anna's aunt alleges his conduct toward Anna and the family would be shamefulifhedoes not marry Anna, he is also trapped. Once resolvedonbeing Anna's husband, he makes the effort, as showninthe work through several passages, to be a good, although impassionate, husband to Anna, and his eventual disgrace due to Anna's infidelity exposes his vulnerable, suffering position.Anna'scharacter is also vulnerable, and Vronsky who is a master at theartofsocial intercourse and making love, most likely senses her suppressed desires. Indeed, when they first meet,weget a glimpse at the influence Anna's presence, both extrovertly displayed and introvert hidden, hasonthe young officer.He...felt compelledtohaveanotherlookather,'noibecause shevvasverybeautiful nor becauseofthe elegance and modest graceofher whole figure, but because he saw in her sweet face as she passed him something especially tender and kind. Whenhelooked round she turned her head. Her bright gray eyes which seemed dark becauseofher black lashes rested for a moment on his face asifrecognizing him,andthen turned to the passing crowd evidentlyinsearchofsomeone.Inthat short look Vronsky had time to notice the subdued animation that enlivened her face and seemed to flutter between her bright eyes and scarcely perceptible smile which curved her rosy lips.Itwas asifan excessofvitality so filled her whole being that it betrayed itself against her will,nowinher smile, nowinthe lightofher eyes. She deliberately tried to extinguish that lightinher eyes, but it shown despiteofherinher faint smile (56).55


Itis interesting that the first thing that draws Vronsky, and something that many critics fail to note, is not the beautyofAnna's face and body but the tenderness and kindness; qualities Vronsky hirnselflacks, she possesses, which add to the "subdued animation" and "excessofvitality" that so mesmerizes not only Vronsky, but all who come in contact with her. He immediately desires to have tangible contact with these qualities and realizes the only way to do this is through contact with the woman who possesses them. What becomes oneofthe greatest tragediesofthe work is Anna's lossofthese qualities. The moreofher physical self she gives to Vronsky, the moreofher soul is lostinthe process. Anna is kind and tender because she is not focusedonher own happiness but rather the happiness and desiresofothers. She does not, perhaps because she knows no better, desire what she does not possess, at least initially. Her sacrifice to come and attempt to save her brother's marriage is through the leavingofher son. She considers the familyofthe conductor insteadofconcentratingonleaving the station. These actions highlightherselfless qualities that were the most noble and highly esteemed qualities in Tolstoy's view. As seifiess as she may be at the beginningofthe work, it is evident withinmelir,;few chapters after her arrival in Moscow and the initial meeting with Vronsky, that Anna begins to become aware, unconsciously at this point,ofsome slight threat that has gained access into her small, securely locked world. Vronsky pursues her first at the ball, at which young Kitty's heart is broken upon seeing the two together, and then the very next day, he appearsonthe landing at a train stop as she steps out to get some air while travelingonher way back to Petersburg.56


Though she could not remember neither his nor her own words, she instinctively felt thatthat momentary conversation had drawn them terribly near to one another, and this both frightened her and madeherhappy (95). This sectionofthe work details Anna's struggle--her realization that Vronsky has gained some sortofpower over her. He is notjustthe charming but harmless courtier she had armed herself against; Vronsky's presence now interferes with Anna's perceptionsofher husband and even her child whom she adored above all else. Things sour for her once she comes back to Petersburg, andshe can no longer deny the change that has occurred. She notices for the first time the aberrations apparentinher husband that had gone unnoticed by her until this point; the imageofhis unattractive ears protruding from underneath his top hat is the firstwegetofAnna's changed perceptionofKarenin. When she fmally reaches home, her son's embrace has a strange effect on her. The first person to meet Anna when she reached home was her son. He ran down the stairs to her regardlessofhis governess's cries, and with desperate delight called out: 'Mama! Mama!' When he reached her he clung round her neck...Her son, like his father, produced on Anna a feelingakinto disappointment. Her fancy had pictured him nicer than he wasinreality (98). The implicationofthose three brief meetings says everything about the stateofAnna's happiness prior to her meeting Vronsky. She is lonely, and begins to see, through the dim light that begins to shine from the flameofdiscontent that has been kindled within her, how evidently superficial and fantastic her life has been up to this point.Itshould not be counted against her character that she finds her son less than she had imagined him, but rather one should realize that now that a man has touched these places that have been buried within, the feelings and needs that have been superimposedonthe love and affectionofher son, now are fixing themselves on Vronsky.57


Another signofher psychological state is her disenchantment with her son. Although still a loving and doting mother, she also becomes disenchanted with her previous work in society.Ina satirical way, Tolstoy introduces the Princess Lidia Ivanovna as oneofthe leading "moral" figuresinAnna's intimate social circle. Thebriefdialogue between the two women reveals not onlyAnna'sheightened senseofhypocrisy latentinLidia Ivanovna but also Tolstoy's personal resentmentofthis typeof"moral socialist." Anna wonders to herself as Lidia Ivanovna is speaking, 'This is all asitwas before, but how isitthat I never used to notice it? said Anna to herself. 'Or isitshe is specifically irritated this morning? Butitis really funny; her aim is to do good, she is a Christian, and yet she is always angry and always has enemies--all on accountofChristianity and philanthropy" (99). These reflections, first when meeting her husband, thenupon seeingherson, and lastly when meeting with a close friend and fellow "sister"ofthe church, reveal to the reader that Anna is beginning to see for herself the web she has constructed in order to avoid facing her own feelings ofloneliness and worthlessness. Thus, one can gather, from Tolstoy's negative characterizationofthe husband and the princess, that neither are as estimableinhis eyes as the narrator so one must conclude that Anna's realizations, although in]7uencedby her new relationship wllh Vronsky, are not becauseofVronsky'spresenceinher life but merely a thoughtful recognitionofthe truthofher situation. So why Vronsky? He is no more an idealmanfor Anna than Alexey Kareninintermsofhis ties to society, his eccentricities and his shallowness. For Vronsky, the conquestofAnna is a game. No matterhowattractive she may appear, he is testing his skills as a courtier to appeal to his machismo desire for conquest, conquering a beautiful,58


married woman, and the desire to be recognized and admired by his fellow officers and friends. Vronsky is merely an incidental for Tolstoy, who utilizes this shallow, immature character to illuminate Anna's presence within the work as a character with the undisputable noble qualityofsincerity and honesty. He places her above the reachofany other character because her destined plightofsuicide cannot be so easily dismissed as abadwoman'sescape from her own sins, but rather becomes the only salvation for her from a world that does not understand her nor have pityonher. Anna's portrait, painted when she and Vronsky were in Italy, gives a visual referent to the spiritual, metaphysical qualityofbeauty and truth which resideinthe inner depthsofAnna's soul. This "sweetest spiritual expressionofhers" is briefly alluded tobyVronsky when the portrait is initially being executed by Mikhaylov. After the fifth sitting the portrait struck everyone not onlybyits likeness but also by its beauty. It was strange then to be able to discover that special beauty. 'One needed to know and love her as I love her, to find that sweetest spiritual expressionofhers,' thought Vronsky, though he himself had only learnedtoknow that 'sweetest spiritual expression' through the portrait (433-34). And, then again, when Levin gazes upon Anna's portrait toward the endofthe work, her haunting beauty and sincerity are the first impressions she makes upon Levin, even beforehehas gazed upon her iiving form. This qualityofArma's indeed marks her, sets her above in many ways from the restofwomanhood, especially from Levin and Anna's circle, precisely because this quality is so rareinany person. The fact that Levin, the most credible and honest male character in the work, can recognize almost instantly the qualityofsincerityinAnna, solidifies for the reader her remarkable nature. Another reflector-lamp fixed to the wall illuminated a large full-length portraitofa woman, which attracted Levin's involuntary attention. It was Anna's portrait painted in Italy by Mikhaylov...Levin looked at the portrait, which in the bright illumination seemed to step outofits frame, and he couldnottear himself59


away from it. He forgot where he was, and without listening to what was being said gazed fixedly at the wonderful portrait.Itwas not a picture, but a living and charming woman with curly black hair, bare shoulders and arms, and a dreamy half-smileonlips covered with elegant down, looking athimvictoriously and tenderly with eyes that troubled him. The only thing that showed she was not alive was that she was more beautiful than a living woman could be (630). This affirmation by Levin has the effect for the readerofshowinghowremote and isolated she is from the social world which heavily influences the successes and failuresofthe lifeofthese characters, butinthe same turn creates a sympathetic character precisely because she is sincere and honest. Anna is on a journey, much like Levin, to find the true meaningoflifefor her. She clings to her role as a mother to Seryoga at the beginningofthe book because she lacks any other sourceofmutual love and affection, but this typeofrelationship can only fulfill the emotional and spiritual needsofAnna, and not even completely because Seryoga is only a young child. Vronsky represents a more mature emotional fulfillment and certainly a physical one. In both cases it is apparent that Karenin should be the one fulfilling Anna but he simply does not have the ability to initiate such a union.Nomatter how noble a character Anna is at the beginningofthe book, and no matter how sympathetic a character he createsinher, it is no surprise that Tolstoy did not condone the action and behaviorofAnna the lover. Once she takes the plungeofsexual relations with Vronsky she is left lifeless internally and emotionally. During the consummation scene between Vronsky and Anna, Tolstoy uses the term murderer when referring to Vronsky and victim when referring to Anna. This language suggests that Anna's spiritual and mental death has already begun to take place; indeed she herself recognizes what she has sacrificed for the sakeoftheir affair and what ultimately will becomeofherinthe longfUll.60


That which for nearly a year had been Vronsky's sole and exclusive desire, supplanting all his former desires: that which for Anna had been an impossible, dreadful, but all the more bewitching dreamofhappiness, had come to pass. Pale, with trembling lower jaw, he stood over her, entreating hertobe calm, himself not knowing whyorhow...She felt so guilty, so much to blame, thatitonly remained for her to humble herself and ask to be forgiven; but she had no one in the world now except him, so that even her prayer for forgiveness was addressed to him. Looking at him she felt her humiliation physically, and could say nothing more. He felt what a murderer must feel when looking at the bodyhehas deprivedoflife. The body he had deprivedoflife was their love, the first periodoftheir love. There was something frightful and revolting in the recollectionofwhat had been paid for with this terrible priceofshame. The shame she felt at her spiritual nakedness communicated itself to him. But in spiteofthe murderer's horrorofthe bodyofhis victim, that body mustbecut in pieces and hidden away, and he must make useofwhat he has obtained by the murder. Then, as the murderer desperately throws himself on the body, as though with passion, and drags it and hacks it, so Vronsky covered her face and shoulders with kisses (135-6). The murder here is notofcourse the physical murderofAnna, but her spiritual and emotional murder. Vronsky has succeeded in reducing Anna to nothing but an objectofsexual pleasure; her body has become the primary target for conquest and in order to obtain the pleasure now through the body, he must destroy the soul thriving within the body; for that is the one obstacle preventing him fromobtaining his spoils. Anna's moral and spiritual characteristics must be supplanted for her to be able to live with the shame and conflictofcommitting such a vile, loathsome sinful act. So here we see that not even in the very actofcommitting adultery can Anna accept the choice she has made. She realizes intuitively what she must sacrifice in order to have Vronsky's love and is depicted as being so lonely and desperate that she willingly makes the sacrifice. I would argue that from this point, the deathofAnna's morality, emerges the second Annaofthe novel. She is transformed into something not unlike the other upperclass female adulterers, the only difference for her is that she refuses to hide her affair--61


refusing to simply enjoyitmore like a recreational activity and instead treats her union with Vronsky as a full-fledged quasi-marriage. She becomes obsessed with her appearance under the illusion that this, which initially drew Vronsky to her, will keephimwith her indefInitely. Her attitude toward her husband transitions from a typeofforced but arguably honest admiration, "Anna smiled. She knew he [Karenin] had said that in order to show that no considerationofkinship could hinder the expressionofhis sincere opinion. She knew that trait in her husband's character, knew and liked it" (101), to a complete and utter loathingofhis whole person. And fInally her jealousy, which begins to emerge around the timeofher pregnancy with Vronsky's child, becomes oneofthe most powerful antagonistic forces workinginthe novel toward Anna's destruction. Anna's pure and innocent nature has died with the physical consummation only to be resurrected as a jealous, dependant, unhappy adulterer. This typeoffemale emerges as the main subjectinAVillage Sermon(fIgure F-2). The woman in the painting has succumbed to the whispering flirtationsofher admirer, and in this instance is made to appear as a shallow, mischievous wife iguoring the moral principlesofmarriagebyopenly embracing his behavior.Ofcourse, Anna's qualities far out way any that would.'.,... "..1','1.,_,1___.r_..1.'1oeapparentillTneIemaleSUOJeClonInepmllLmg,OUlLneVI:Slun01 UlterreproaClll0rlIefhusband and complete embraceofher seducer is one vividly depicted by Perov. Although the prior sceneis telling enoughifwe accept the implications present within the work, Tolstoy seems tothinkitnecessary to once again portray Vronsky as the killerinthe symbolic death scene: the steeple chase.Inhis article "Incarnation," R.P Blackmur comments on the arrangementofevents and circumstances which take placeina Tolstoy novel. He writes,62


He [Tolstoy] exposes his created men and women to the 'terrible ambiguityofimmediate experience'...and then, by the mimetic powerofhis imagination, expresses their reactions and responses to that experience. Some reactions are merely protective and make false responses; some reactions are so deep as to amount to a changeinthe phaseofbeing and make honest responses (99). Blackmur refers to this "terrible ambiguityofimmediate experience," also known as fate to the less Jungian educated, as evolving from some greater force, like God or Nature. He then poses the argument that this force is used to shape and build or tear down and destroy dependingonthe willingnessoftheresponder to "apprehend ... the directionofthat force" (99). As we know, from much that has already been said regarding the nature and beliefsofTolstoy, the family and marriage were considered a sacred institution to be esteemed, protected and highly reveredinorder to further strengthen both the individual existing within that family and the society which benefits from the individuals who are a productofthat structure. Bearing these ideas in mind, V ronsky and Anna have then uitimateiy traversedinoppositiontothe force, or forces, which are there to shape and build the individual regarding the necessary patternsofgrowth inherentinall human beings. They traversed when they willfully went from the unsaid but understood emotional liaison to the physical consummationofthat union. At this pointinthe work Tolstoy has masterfully juxtaposed Anna and Vronsky's characters to highlight Anna'ssuffering and Vronsky's ambivalence. Vronsky isinthe ideal position for amanofhis station. His career has begun to move in a positive63


direction, although he refuses to accept thenewposition due to his affair with Anna, he is still admired and respected by his colleagues. He has conquered both Anna's body and heart, and for that, too, he is praised by other malesofhis class. He has financial freedom and physical freedom, not being tied down toanyoneor anything. He is poised now on the edgeofanother almost sure-fire success in the steeple race. He has the better horse and is the better rider and has mentally been preparing for weeks for the event.Heis the ideal male according to social definitions, butifthereader is careful we will find nothing but a self-appeasing narcissist,orat least that is what Tolstoy would have concluded.Ina sense, Vronsky is trapped in much the same way as Anna by the social conditions which have molded him into the man he has become: "Just as it (society) denied her (Anna) any role other than wife, sinister, or courtesan, Vronsky lives by a codeofimbibed conventions which have molded his reactions and stopped any ability to resist" (Boyd, 101). WhatofAnna? She has been forced to endure the chilly receptionofher husband who suspects her infidelity but refuses to acknowledge or even question its validity. She is pregnant with Vronsky's child. She is already the motherofanother man's son. Her positioninsociety,ifit were made known, would be disastrous--would ruin her interminably. And she has begun to realize, all too unfortunately for herself, that the man she believed tobeher equal as a partner and companion, Vronsky, is basically clueless as to her feelings and her predicament--being prepared to carry on this liaison indefinitely under the guiseoffriendship. She is not only alone willinglybysevering the weak but present emotional ties linking herselfto her husband, but now unwillingly, realizing that64


she cannot depend on the strength and wisdom ofVronsky--he has failed to live up to her expectations. She is utterly alone. The race is framed beforehand by, her admission to Vronskyofher pregnancy and afterward by her admission to her husband about her affair with Vronsky and the hatred she feels toward Karenin. Perhaps Anna's hopes are restingonVronsky's success at the races. She characteristically views external events as shaping her own internal circumstances; i.e. the train death at the beginningofthe novel she sees as an ominous sign about some event over which she will have no control. Vronsky's triumph could signify a victory not only for Vronsky, but for Anna as well. But, as Blackmur has nicely stated, the forceofGod/Nature has already been thwarted by Anna; she cannot hope for successinthe midstofself destruction. The race endsintragic defeat for V ronsky; a slight mishap in the saddle causeshimto break the backofhis mare Frou Frou. He has been defeated both literally and symbolically; for there is the obvious connection between the mare and Anna, and Vronsky's inability to handle a force (referring here to the horse and that which is in Anna) that moves too quickly for him to reign inorkeep pace. In his article "Narrate or Describe," Lukacs highlights the horse race fromAnna Kareninato illustrate this ideaofnarration used to further elaborate a character's individual ami social actions and reactions to reach a higher levelofcharacterization. He states, "Where and how is this truth revealed?Itis man's everyday practical commonsense that truth is revealed onlyinpractice, in deeds and actions. Men's words, subjectivereactions and thoughts are shown to be trueorfalse, genuine or deceptive, significant or fatuous, in practice--as they succeed or failindeeds and action. Character, too, canberevealed65


concretely only through action. Who is brave? Who is good? Such questions can be answered solely in action" (123). The fact that Vronsky isinthe position ofleader, being symbolically "in the saddle'" leaves nothing left for the reader than to assume Anna's place as the mare being driven. Becauseofher fragile place within society, she must rely on the supportofothers to facilitate her life within her present conditions. She, like Frou Frou, does not have the capacity nor the capabilities to take action for herself regarding her fate and thus must be driven by those whose position in society allows freedomofmovement and action. But Vronsky, as we seeinthe steeple race, is not prepared to be a leaderorguide for Anna, andifshe hands him the reignsofher life, the weightofhis stagnation will eventually break her back, and does. "What Vronsky wanted was Anna like the horse. But like the horse, Anna must be used in reckless pastime, or not at all. Take away the pastime, and the recklessness becomes uncontrollable and all the beautiful anarchyinthe animal--all the unknown order under orders known--is lost. So, as with Anna, Vronsky failed to keep pace with FrouFrou and broke her back" (Blackmur, 106). Anna is haunted by dreamsofdeath: a small maninthe comerofa room, hunched over and whispering. Nabokov says, "Vronsky does nm catch the senseofthose words; Anna does, and what these French words contain is the ideaofiron,ofsomething battered and crushed--and this something is she" (182). As Nabokov so brilliantly portrays throughout his lecture, Anna and Vronsky's relationship is tainted from the initial meeting by death.Itis death that brings them together--the deathofa train conductor. Anna, because Tolstoy has made her acutely awareofher spiritual and physical weaknesses and the precious balanceofher soul, realizes thatifshe givesinto66


her desires for Vronsky her life will surely end in death. Throughout the work, the recurring dream images and her own self-fulfilling prophecy foreshadow for the reader that her ultimate fate will be death, butitis more complex than a fate sealed by sin. Some critics assume the easy conclusion that Tolstoy is serving Anna herjustpunishment. Anna could have chosen an easy life, to live openly as the wifeofAlexey Alexadrovich and secretly carryonthe love affair with Vronsky, but she is more complex than that. Immorality is Anna's nemesis. Whether an inherent codeofmanners or ruleofethics is something internal, being partofAnna's own soul,orwhether her perceptionofher actions is guided by societal pressures is debatable.Itwould seem that Tolstoy positions Annaasbeing the victimofthe latter while being rebellious to the former. She fears the repercussionofher adulterous action because she can see not only the external effectitwould haveonher family and herself, but she is able to understand, through the very perceptive and complex natureofher soul, the dangerous precipice from which she hangs. Thus, the dream affects Vronsky and Anna so very differently. Vronsky only has the ability to decipher the dream through the signsinlanguage or the tools he has innately been given or has adopted from society. Perhaps the most tragic choice Anna must make, even more tragic than her choice to end her life due to the very natureofthe telling andhowitwas told, is her decision to leaveherson Seryoga. As her relationship with Vronsky buildsinintensity and physical contact, and most certainly once she has become pregnant with Vronsky's child, her hatred for her husband becomes magnified. The connection is that this hatred is not due to action directly relatable to her husband. Not with standing a cold demeanor (this trait67


being present certainly from the time Anna met him) he has tried to solve the issueofhis wife's infidelity the only way he can, by laying down a specific setofguidelines for Anna to follow while expecting her to verbally agree to his contrived and imaginary marriage contract. What Anna wants and what Vronsky expects is a challengeinthe formofa duel. But why does Anna crave this formofconfrontation and why is she not happy with the freedom Alexey has chosen to give to her? Perhaps she wants to be saved from herself and believes her husband possesses the ability to saveherifheopenly challenges Vronsky. Aside from this,itbecomes unbearable for Anna to continue living with her husband. She not only hateshimbut fears him, and all this is taking place at a time when Alexey has uncovered,ifonly for a brief moment in the work, something translatable to true feelingsoflove,compassion and forgiveness not only for his wifebutfor her lover as well. Alexey relates his feelings to V ronsky: On receiving the telegram...Icame here with the same feeling---more than that, I wished forherdeath...But I saw her and forgave her...That is my position. Youmaytrample meinthe mud, make me the laughing stockofthe world,--I will not forsakeherand will never utter a wordofreproach to you (377). His transformation,inthe faceofAnna's disintegration, reveals the natureofthe Tolstoyian narrative, the psychological narrative, to unearth through a seriesofexternal events the inner workingsofman's soul.Aswe see this elementofthe forces outside the realmofman's control, whether that be GodorNature, working to build and shape; we can conclude that this transformation could only have been possible within the frameworkoftheseunfortunate eventswhenAlexey has essentially lost all that he has,inhis own vain and arrogant way, built with his own hands. His family, his reputation, and68


his wife have crumbled underneathhimand he is faced with only the imageofhis naked, unpretentious self. Anna's decision to leave Seryoga is spurredonbyher hatred for Alexey, but this failure to stay and protect her son from his father's cold, unloving gaze, shows that "she abandons her duty to protect" (Segal, 98). Once she and Vronsky's relationship begins to diminish in passion, and she senses his growing apathy toward her, she then returns to her first and truest love: thatofher son. Her love for her son gradually shifts into a typeofdependent love, for Seryoga will always love and accept his mother, and his innocence acts as a soothing balm to her sin.Asa child he has the capacity to love his mother without judging her; he loves her because she is. Seryoga also exhibits the passioninlove that has so manifested itselfinAnna's own soul; Seryoga needs her loveinreturn for hishappiness, much the samewayshe needs the loveofVronsky(or a love equivalent to the love she has the capacity to share).Itis to her son that she will continually return in her thoughts when she is abroad with Vronsky and even when she is traveling to the train station to kill herself--her thoughts continually return to her son. Some critics argue that Anna's iove ror Seryoga extends onlySofar ascan receiveinreturn, but the scene between the mother and young son isbyrar the most passionate and eloquentinthe work and reveals Tolstoy positioninsupportofAnna's actions regarding this fragile and beautiful mother and son relationship. Anna is,ofcourse, greedy to see her son; she has traveled from Italy onlyjustto see him. Her thoughts are bent upon meeting him. Seryoga's father and his guardian, Lidia Ivanovna, have told him that his mother is dead, but as Naomi Segal points outinher work The69


Adulteress's Child,"Seryoga...does not believe his mother is dead; he looks out for heronhis daily walks, rehearsing thejoyoftheir reconciliation" (99). WhenAnnafinally does seehimfor the first time in two years, their reunion is sublime: 'Seryoga,mydear little boy!' she uttered, catching her breath and embracing his plump littlebody. 'Mama!' he muttered, wriggling aboutinher arms so as to touch them with different partsofhis body. Sleepily smiling with closed eyes, he moved his plump hands from the backofhis bedtoher shoulders, leaning against her and enveloping herinthat sweet scentofsleepiness and warmth which only children possess, and began rubbinghimselfagainst her neck and shoulder. 'I knew!' he said, opening his eyes. 'To-day ismybirthday. Iknewyou would come! I'll getupdirectly...'While saying this he was again falling asleep (485). The exchange between the two offers a glimpse into Anna's dilemma, foritis with agony and shame that she must choosetolive without her son. According to thelawregarding marriage and divorce in Russia during that time, awoman'schoices were very limiting especiallyifshe was the one instigating the divorce. Anna has no legal righttoher sonifshe chooses to divorce Alexeyinordertomarry Vronsky, and this single fact creates the barrier for hertofreedom. "Anna's love for her son Seryogaisthe cornerstoneofher moral condenmation" (Segal, 90). Although she has separated herselffromhersonbyliving with Vronsky, thus severing all tiestoher former family and her life, she will not sacrifice her son for the sakeofher happiness or her freedom.Herrefusaltorequest a divorce,upuntil the very endofthe bookwhenall hope is lostofactually securing one, is perplexingifwelookatitsolely as a responsetoher fear that she will lose her sonifshe divorces her husband. But, it becomes oneofher best and most noble qualities, thatofher devotion and love for her son, that creates the sympathetic characterinAnna.70


This meeting, the fmal one between the two, is as much a goodbye for Anna, for she knows deepinher heart that there is no chance she will ever have in securing custodyofher son. She is faced with the utter truthofher complete isolation from not only society, but from any human contact. This isolated existence, when she has succeededinostracizing herself from the very society that cheeredheronwhen she initially embraced her relations with Vronsky, now has turned its backonher because she no longer hides her shameful position as adulteress but openly challenges the restofher circle to criticize her actions when they are in fact playing at the same game.Inthis solitary despair she ends her life. We cannot condemn Anna for her actionsjustas Tolstoy could not condemn her. Yet, her life ends by suicide and thus is considered a failure, but it canbe argued that even through this death her actions are forgivenher.Herpursuitofthe truth in life, not only to find whatitmeans to live but to live accordingtoprinciples that are honest and clearly distinguishable excuse Anna's actions. Tolstoy does not elevate her to the statusofthe "ideal female," but he certainly implies throughhercharacterization, that her honesty, her love for her child (the legitimate one), andherrecognition and loathingof'.'_.....111."-'.1..(-:...1'nerpOS1110nasan aaun:eress reveal lnal ner lnnarequalItIeSparallelLIloSeasUt::lllleUill illlideal female character. Anna has the tragic flaw that is necessaryinfiction to reveal the inner workingsofman's spirit. Her battle against herself, the flesh against the spirit, morality versus immorality, society versus individualism--these challenges effectually peeloffthe layersofher personality so that Tolstoy can reveal the inner workingsofher heart. He chooses not to stigmatize herjustas a stereotypical adulteress so that he can succeed in showing the evilsofwoman's emancipation, yethealso does not condone her71


actions as a legitimate response to her situation as a young, inexperienced girl being betrothed to amandecades her senior. Rather, he chooses to expose her, to expose her soul, so that the deeper questions oflife, both the present and the eternal ones, can be brought forth--engaging the reader in his dialogueofaction and reaction.72


Conclusion The secondhalfofthe nineteenth century in Russia was a timeofimmense transition. Freedom, that concept which had been so stifled in the social and political circlesofRussia during the firsthalfofthe nineteenth century, had erupted with such great force that the worldofartistic expression found pressure from all sides to represent the failingsofthe political, social and economic systems in Russia. With the deathofTsar Nicholas I came the birthofemancipation and with the inaugurationofAlexander II to the throne came the literary and artistic movements that directly influenced themodemworld--the worldofthe twentieth century--in a direction more geared toward the inevitable rights and freedomsofall people. Insistent upon having a voice in the cacophonyofvoices resounding freedom, were women. Issues facing women such as: what is woman's roleinsociety, should she have the same rights and privileges as man, should she have the right to choose her husband, how can the educationofwomen be improved upon, etc., became a central theme to the intellectual and political thinkersinRussia. Leading the groupofyoung intellectuals emerginginthe 1860's and '70s were figures such a Chemyshevsky, Alexander Herzen, and Turgenev, to name a few. Their ideas regarding the treatment and freedomofwomen appeared in their literary works so that their position could and would73


be heardbya multitudeofother intellectuals facing the same situations and social dilemmasinother areasofRussia and abroad. The reignofAlexander II allowed a relatively unfettered fermentofideas that had the effectofcreating the necessary ripples in the water so as to engage more artists and writers on the subjectofthewoman question. Visual artists such as Fedotov were the forefathersofthe generation emerginginthe 1860's who integratedintheir work the founding ideologiesofthe Russian past--the principlesofRussian tradition that gave uniqueness to their work, while advancing the leading ideas being introduced by the younger, more westernized generation. This synthesis helped to solidifY, for the next generationofRussian artists, subjects that were specifically Russian and themes that were at the same time universal. Although Fedotov didnotspecifically intend his art to reform the political and social structuresofnineteenth century Russia, his work examines the inner workingsofsocial intercourseinorder to reveal the incongruities between reason and action. Perov followed Fedotov's lead but also adopted a morevocal positionasa critical social artist--echoing his liberal brothersinthe literary and intellectual world. His work had speciticity, purposefully targeting certain religious and political groups, sociai practices, and traditional values that could be portrayed as hypocritical and ironic. He specifically targeted the Russian Orthodox church, as this is the subjectofmuchofhis work, but he also included in the highlighted paintingA Village Sermon(F-2), the incongruous marriage relationship between the older man and the younger woman, revealing the inconsistencies intraditional marriage practices through the husband's physical appearance andemotional apathy contrasted to the freshness, youth, and beauty74


ofthe wife. By including the young, seducing playboy, Perov has successfully captured the problems such unsuitable marriages createina society. Pukirev's work, The Unequal Marriage (F 3), provides a raw examination into the issueofwomen's rights and freedoms. Before a priest, with all the eyesofsociety resting upon the bride, and more importantly bearing witness to an event that is more representativeofsanctioned molestation than marriage, a young girl has no choice but to accept her position in life and marry a man old enough to behergrandfather. Here there is no ambiguity; the lightofinnocence and helplessness cast upon the young girl while the future groom's face is a distorted representationofhis dominance over his future bride. The mismatched marriage, the oldermanand the younger wife, emerges again in oneofTolstoy's earliest works, Family Happiness. Here, as many critics will argue, Tolstoy is not so diplomatic and certainly not as liberal as his fellow artists and intellectual companions when he characterizes the young, inexperienced Masha as a pleasure seeker who eventually learns her place, within the worldofmen, as a dutiful and obedient wife and mother. Sergey, whose age and maturity give him both intellectual and emotional advantages over his young wife, loses his interestinher oncehesees her ror what he had feared her to be, a shallow female.Butto approach the workinthis fashion would be denying the poetry behind Tolstoy's characterization and thematic arrangements. The most telling scene, the one between the two newly weds preparing to leave from the city to the country, the sceneinwhich the rift in their relationship occurs, shows a writer whose intention was not to address the transient issuesofwomen's place75


insocietyinthenineteenth century,buttotry and come to terms with--to reconcile--these eternally emerging problemswhichface allmenand women,whichface all families. Tolstoy carriesthethemeofthefamily furtherinhispsychological analysisoffamily lifeintheworkAnnaKarenina.The major families intheworkhave all been portrayed as having struggles that impede their happiness. Anna's struggle for happinessandhersearch for truthinthemidstofa society bred and sustainedondeception is what eventuallytearher family apart. Anna's marriage to Karenin, averyyoungwoman(fromwhatis revealed through thetextthoughno age is specifically stated) to amucholder, rigidmancarriesonthetheme present withinFamily Happinessandtheartwork studied. This arrangement, asthereader gathers fromthetext, forces Karenin into a marriagehedidnotchoose willingly and trapsAnnaina relationship with amanwhodoes not havethecapacity for passionate love. Anna's character is revealed, through the first depictionofherinthetext, to possess a fervent energy latent withinherspiritbutan energynotcompletelyoutofreachtosomeone perceptive enoughtorecognize its existence. Vronsky,theyounger, more perceptive and keenly intuitivemanachieves his desire,toseduce Anna, and this marks her downfall.Andalthoughheractions arenotcondonedbythenarrator (Tolstoy), neither is she ridiculed for her actionsandbehaviorIIIthework. Tolstoy creates sympathy for his adulteress through the amplificationofcertain traitsAnnapossesses like sincerity and genuine love.Herisolation,whichbeginsinthe initial phasesofherrelationship with Vronsky and escalatestoa pointthatshe is separated even from herself, gives the reader insight into her personal, emotional, and spiritual struggle.Annais unabletofunctioninthe societyinwhich she lives becausethatsociety cannot understandoraccepttherawpassionate honesty that fuels the light in Anna's eyes.76


What smfaces as oneoftheprevailing themes characteristic in any work by Tolstoy is the absenceofcertainty and the presenceofthe question--ofthe examinationofreaction and response resulting from situations without the resolution offinality--that comes with a complete understandingofan issue. When we examine works likeAnnaKareninaorFamily Happiness,theproblemsfacing society, and perhaps more compelling, those facing the individual, become the driving force in the work and not so much theanswer,masqueraded with romantic ideals about love and life so often seeninliteratme that tries to take a stand and show a specific position/response as being the ideal. There could be no simple solution to the woman question according to Tolstoy's work. Characters, situations, and the resultsofsocial class and influence all work together to guarantee that no one solution is be suitable for everysituation. What Tolstoy's work does reveal, from examining Masha's painful transition from girlhood to womanhood, tohowthe psychological impactofadultery affects Anna, is that the search for truth is the guiding light by which all characters, all human beings are propelled.77


Pavel Fedotov'sTheMajor's Betrothal78


Figure 2Vasily Perov'sA Village Sermon79


Vasily PukirevThe Unequal Marriage80


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Gregg, Richard. "Psyche Betrayed: The Doll's HouseofLeo Tolstoy."The SlavicandEast European Journal2 (2002): 269-282. Hayward, Helen.Never Marry a Girl with a Dead Father.New York:LB.Tauris Publishers, 1999. Hutton, Marcelline1.RussianandWest European Women, 1860-1939.Oxford: Rowman&Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2001. Kisseleff, Natalia. "Idyll and Ideal: AspectsofSentimentalism in Tolstoy's Family Happiness."Canadian Slavonic Papers21.1 (1979): 336-346. Lukacs, Gyorgy. "Narrate or Describe."WriterandCritic,andOther Essays.Trans.&Ed. Arthur Kahn. London: Merlin Press, 1970. "Tolstoy and the Attempts togoBeyond the Social FormsofLife." Bloom,Leo Tolstoy 9-14.Mandelker, Amy.Framing Anna Karenina.Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1993. Marsh, Rosalind, Ed. Women and Russian Culture: Projections and Self-Perceptions. New York: Berghahn Books, 1998."AnImageofTheir Own?: Feminism, Revisionism and Russian Culture." Marsh 2-41. Monter, Barbara Heldt. "Tolstoy's Path Towards Feminism."American Contributions to the 8thInternational Congress ofSlavists.Ed. Victor Terras. Vol. 2. Columbus: Slavica Publishers, 1978. 523-535. Nabokov, Vladimir.Lectures on Russian Literature.Ed. Fredson Bowers. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich,1981.Paggioli, Renato.The Phoenixandthe Spider.Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1957. Pushkareva, Natalia.WomeninRussian History.Trans.&Ed. Eve Levin. New York: M.E. Sharp, 1997. Sarabianov, DmitriV.RussianArtfrom Neoclassicism to the Avant-Garde, 1800-1917.New York: Abrams, 1990. Segal, Naomi.The Adulteress's Child: AuthorshipandDesire in the Nineteenth-Century Novel.Cambridge: Polity Press, 1992.82


Stavrou, George, ed.ArtandCulture in Nineteenth-Century Russia.Boomington: Indiana University Press, 1983. Stites, Richard.The Women's Liberation Movement in Russia.Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978. Tolstoy, Leo.Anna Karenina.Trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude. Ed. George Gibian. New York: Norton, 1970. Tolstoy, Leo.Collected Shorter Fiction.Trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude and NigelJ.Cooper. 2vo1s.New York: Everyman's Library, 2001. Troyat, Henri.Tolstoy.Trans Nancy Amphoux.NewYork: Doubleday, 1967. Valkenier, Elizabeth. "The Intelligentsia andArt."Stavrou 153-171. Valkenier, Elizabeth.Russian Realist Art.AnnArbor: Ardis, 1977.83


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