The novel “Anna Karenina ” by Leo Tolstoy reflects fundamental human nature as captured by C.S Lewis in his 31 “Screwtape Letters.” Even though these two works were written by different people from different cultures, they reveal human nature and fundamental beliefs are similar regardless of the background. Some of human characters depicted in the Lewis’ include consciousness to good and evil, belief in the existence hell and heaven (religious) and often strive to live a morally upright.However, the latter scenario varies from one society to another but there are generally expected norms across board. This paper looks into human belief in good or evil as depicted Leo in “Anna Karelia.”
Human beings regardless of their religious affiliation or cultural background broadly classify any activity into good or evil. A good act is one that is morally acceptable and brings no harm to the person or any member of the society whereas an evil act is not only detrimental to the individual but also the whole community. Determining what is good or wrong depends on the community’s social and cultural beliefs. Actions that conforms to the beliefs are good while those that goes against the social norms are viewed as evil.
In the novel, Anna finds herself in a precarious position where she does not know whether to break her marriage and remarry her new lover Count Vronsky. She is a noble woman married to a senior government official Count Keranin though it looks like she is no longer attached to him. Her affair between her and new lover seems to flourish until point Vronsky ask her to break her marriage to marry him.
The proposal by Vronsky exposes the underlying influence of the cultural norms on Anna’s life as she is tied to the expectations.According to the Russian traditions and also the Orthodox church breaking a marriage is not a welcomed act and considered evil. This expectation by the society and church makes her feel vulnerable as she cannot make a decision on her considering the consequences. At the end, Anna decides to break her marriage to be with her love Vronsky.
Anna’s decision brings a lot of changes to her social life, especially in Russia, where she losses friends as no one wants to associate with a divorcee. In the eyes of the members of her community and orthodox her act is an acceptable making her an “immoral ” woman. Furthermore, Anna becomes more isolated as Vronsky tries to pursue his social life leading to conflict between the two. She accuses him of infidelity forgetting she was too an infidel when still married to Count Karenin.
Besides Anna, her brothers family also suffer the same fate due to her brothers infidelity. At the beginning of the novel, the reader is introduced to the family wrangles in the marriage of Prince Stephen and Princes Diana. Stephen, an aristocrat and senior civil servant, cheats on his wife with the governess even though this contravenes the social norms among the Russians and orthodox church. Anna gets disgusted with his brother’s behavior not knowing the same fate would fall her later.
These two scenarios within the novel reflects the true nature of human who despite knowing what is good and evil often cross the boundaries to satisfy their wants. For instance, Anna knew very well infidelity in marriage violates the social and religious norms among her people. In fact, she was upset with her brother Prince Stephen for cheating on his wife Princes Darya and putting her family in unending conflict. Ironically, she does the same thing in her marriage by starting an affair with Vronsky at the back of his husband Count Karenina. She eventually divorce him and starts a new love life that also suffer similar fate after Vronsky starts cheating on her.
Anna further portrays the selfish nature of human beings when she becomes paranoid and selfish after her affair with Vronsky starts crippling. Her attitude towards the whole situation exposes her as a selfish individual who does not see any wring on her actions but does on others. She never cared about the feelings of her then husband Count Karenina when she opted to start an affair with Vronsky but becomes upset when the same fate befalls her. Similarly, she did not approve her brother’s behaviors but does the same to her husband making her appear as indecisive selfish person that only think of interest.
In conclusion, the two books by Leo Tolstoy and C.S Lewis compliment each other on bringing out the human nature. Even though Lewis does not dig deep into these behaviors, the “Anna Karenina ” elaborates these characters using different scenes in the novel. Particularly, the human nature on determining the good and evil is apparent in the novel as the characters like Anna and Stephen face moral judgement by their communities based on their decisions to cheat on their spouses.