Anna Karenina - The pitfalls of infatuation

Infatuation is an element of love but not love itself!

I was attending High School when I first time read Leo Tolstoy's book Anna Karenina. It was on the must reading list for the semester. And I read it, but I did not understand it. It was so stupid to put such a book in high school reading list. That is not a book to be read on the beginning of life.

You need a lot of experience to understand this book. Anna Karenina includes great insights into a wide range of human emotions, mainly weaknesses, many of which are just as prevalent today as when the novel was published.

There are two central loves that play out. The love affair between Anna Karenina and Count Vronsky, and love between Levin and Kitty which eventually comes to fruition of marriage. 

Anna is pursued by Count Vronsky after meeting at a ball, and after initial hesitation, she falls in love with him, or rather... her idea of him.

Karenina and Vronsky, Kitty and Levin’s relationships teach us important lessons which can help us to love better by learning from their mistakes. Without nothing to add, these are a few lessons in love from what has been labelled the greatest work of literature ever.

Life and love include infidelity, paranoia, drugs, alcohol, obsessions, desires, the pressures from family life, hypocrisy, religious bigotry, insensitivity, selfishness, self righteousness and guilt.

The book has multiple stories run through it's pages, but it is remarkably easy to read. The love affair between Anna and Count Vronsky, makes the entire book a sad reading. The love between them consumes them both with a tragic outcome and much suffering on the way, including Anna's social isolation and finally death.

Life is all about love, and when we mention the love we should remember this book. Real love is rare, it is both a destructive and a productive force, and it is understood inside and outside of the context of morality and society customs.

Anna's adulterous affair is understandable because she couldn't find love inside her marriage, the love hit her from outside. But her love for her son came in conflict with her passionate romantic feelings for her lover, Vronsky. In fact, Anna's eventual abandonment of her son winds up destroying her ability to love Vronsky or anyone with a full depth or trust, which ultimately leads to her suicide.

In contrast, her brother Levin and Kitty find happiness through marrying for love. It is Levin's love for Kitty and, eventually, his son Dmitri, that gives Levin's life meaning.

This book, despite its age, has much wisdom to impart to lovers, from the dangers of idealizing a partner, to the pitfalls of infatuation, the difficulty of marriage and the importance of communication.

Levin learns that life is bigger than love, and that a happy marriage does not guarantee spiritual contentment. But Anna understood something else, she had value love much higher, she chooses romantic love over her first child and just about everything else.

Infatuation is the state of being completely carried away by unreasoning passion and addictive love. Infatuation usually occurs at the beginning of relationship when sexual attraction is central. Infatuation can be described as feeling of intense affection for another person.

Being infatuated is wanting to be around, it's a sexual desire mixed with anxiety, panic, jealousy etc. Love, on the other hand, usually starts like that, with infatuation or lust and then by time it become love. A symptom of love is also the emotional attachment but it the attachment that underlines the strong feelings of confidence, and affection. That never happened to Anna Karenina.  

The tension between her and Vronsky, born of the fact that she cannot enter high society until she is granted a divorce. While awaiting this she is forced to self-isolate and live among books, locked up in her country home and abusing morphine, she grows paranoid of Vronsky who continues to move freely, and wrongfully suspects him of growing uninterested in her.

While Kitty and Levin find peace and contentment within marriage, Karenina sacrifices her reputation, marriage and motherhood to taste true love, and pays the ultimate price.