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Author Study: Leo Tolstoy Curated by Grace Xu '19

Themes

 

Theme: Family happiness is one of the highest human ideals. 

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” (Opening line of novel)

 

Theme: There will always exist a tension between the desire for vengeance and the spiritual duties of forgiveness and compassion. 

“Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” (Romans 12:19)

 

Theme: There are few obstacles that love cannot overcome. 

“'If you love me as you say you do,' she whispered, 'make it so that I am at peace.'” (Part II, VII, pg. 139)

Motifs

 

The Muzhik

"A little old muzhik with a disheveled beard was doing something, bent over some iron, muttering meaningless French words..." (Part VII, XXVI, 752) 

 

‚ÄčTrains + Train Stations

"The platform shook, and it seemed to here that she was on the train again. And suddenly, remembering the man who was run over the day she first met Vronsky, she realized what she must do...” (Part VII, XXXI, 768) 

 

Fate

“‘Whatever our fate is or will be, we have made it, and we don’t complain about it,’ he said, uniting himself and Anna in the word ‘we...’” (Part II, XXI, 183) 

"I am proud of my architecture...The cohesion of the structure does not lie in the plot or in the relations of the characters, it is an internal cohesion...look well and you will find it."

~Letter from Tolstoy dated January 1878