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Anna Karenina: The Wages of Sin

"...and that love, she felt, ought to be entirely concentrated on her alone...She was jealous not of any particular woman but of the decrease of his love.  Not having got an object for her jealousy, she was on the lookout for it...And being jealous of him, Anna was indignant against him and found grounds for indignation in everything."  Leo Tolstoy from Anna Karenina

In this desperate scene Anna, is consumed with jealousy. She is fearful that her lover, Alexei Vronsky will leave her for another woman. Ironically her grounds for jealousy are totally unfounded, Vronsky has always been faithful to her. However, she still can't escape the guilt, her paranoia, her embarrassment, her shame over her condition.

I like to read the classics because I hope to learn more about the human condition.  I marvel at how little humanity has changed throughout history.  No matter what time period, ancient or modern, Roman, or Greek, the human condition has remained essentially the same.  We all want happiness, contentment, a life relatively free of pain.

One of the reasons which make Anna Karenina a masterpiece is how Tolstoy perfectly captures the psychology of a person who is mired in sin, in this case adultery.  Tolstoy never sugar coats Anna's condition treating her affair in a strictly romantic and idyllic way; instead he accurately depicts the devastating consequences of Anna's decision to leave her husband and child.  Anna in turn is left more miserable, paranoid, and suicidal.

Sadly our culture has developed a relativistic mindset regarding sin.  We are all routinely encouraged to follow our own "consciences" regarding our decisions.  As long as we are content with our decisions then everything will be OK.  The problem with this is, "Who's truth are we following?" "How do we know that we are right and other person wrong? This mindset strips away consequence and once consequence is stripped away sin roams free and once sin roams free then death is inevitable. The wages of sin are always death.  Tolstoy teaches us through the tragic character of Anna that a life of sin has devastating consequences in this life and especially in the next.


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