Concept of the Month -- October 2006

"Anna Karenina" -- A Study in Character

While on a trip to the Ukraine, I read "Anna Karenina." I leave it to the reader both of the book and of this brief "Concept of the Month" to determine the type personality is being described. The following quotes from Joel Carichael's translation offer some clues:

*Anna thinks: "What are all these church bells for, all that ringing, all those lies? Only to hide the fact that we all hate another."

*Anna thinks: "Aren't we all cast into the world only in order for us to hate one another?"

*Anna re her son whom she abandoned: "Seryhozha?...I also thought I loved him....But then I went on living without him, and I changed him for the other love and didn't regret the change as long as I was satisfied with the other love." | "Even her separation from her own son whom she loved so much did not torment her at first either."

*Anna re her love for Vronsky: "I require him to give himself up to me, all of him, more and more completely...He tells me I'm senselessly jealous, but it's not true."

*Anna re Vronsky: "Since she was jealous, Anna kept losing her temper with him; she seized on everything to justify her indignation. She blamed him for all the hardships of her situation." | "Instantly her despairing jealousy changed into a despairing passionate tenderness."

*Anna re her perspective: "I don't want to prove anything at all -- all I want to do is live, harming no one but myself." | "However sincerely Anna wanted to suffer, she did not suffer. There was no shame of any kind."

*Vronsky to Anna: "Then tell me what I have to do for you to feel at easy. I'm ready to do anything to make you happy."

*Anna's thoughts re suicide: "She started thinking once again with enjoyment of how he [i.e., Vronsky] would torment himself, repent, and love the memory of her when it was already too late."

The old countess's assessment of Anna was: "No, no matter what you say she was a bad woman. Such desperate passions! It's all just to prove something special. Well, now she's proved it; she's destroyed herself and two fine men -- her husband and my unfortunate son."

I leave it to the reader of the book and the above excerpts to assess the character of Anna Karenina. Consider it in light of descriptions of "borderline personality disorder".

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