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Tag Archives: affairs

Lessons in Wifery from Anna Karenina

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The Unequal Marriage by Vasili PukirevLeo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina famously begins, “Happy families are all alike. Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Tolstoy weaves together the storyline of one happy family and one unhappy family through the protagonists Constantine Levine and Anna Karenina. Through Levine (and his eventual wife Kitty) and Anna, Tolstoy shows us what love can add to—and take away from—an ordinary, human life. And through both Kitty and Anna, we see how each choice a woman makes leads to her eventual happiness or downfall. Read the rest of this entry

Lessons in Wifery from The Age of Innocence

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Newland Archer is proud of his beautiful, accomplished fiancée—at least until he meets the notorious and exciting Countess Ellen Olenska. After he convinces her not to divorce her husband for propriety’s sake, Newland and Ellen fall deeply in love with each other. As they contemplate an affair, they struggle to reconcile their feelings with the expectations of the deeply conservative society of New York during the Gilded Age.

The Age of Innocence is a novel about the conflict between love and duty—and what we lose when we have to choose. Her realistic portrayal of upper class life during the 1870s won author Edith Wharton the first Pulitzer Prize ever awarded to a woman. And that same realistic portrayal teaches us valuable lessons about what it is to be a wife in any age. Read the rest of this entry