Part Four Summary
While Anna still lives with her husband, Alexey, she and Vronsky continue their relationship.
Although she is not supposed to, Anna has Vronsky see her at her home; and he unexpectedly runs into Alexey at the door; Alexey does nothing.
During his visit with Anna, Vronsky notes that Anna has “morally and physically changed for the worse,” as she has “fits of jealousy.” (Men never understand pregnancy!)
Alexey finally confronts Anna now that she has broken his only request not to meet her lover in his house. He is going to seek a divorce and remove her son, as well.
Alexey sees Stephan and Dolly while in Moscow, and they are insistent on him coming for dinner. And when a down-and-out Levin, who is thinking of nothing but death, visits Stephan, he invites him to the same dinner party knowing Kitty will be present. Both men reluctantly show up.
What a difference a dinner makes
After a lively discussion about classical education and the education of women among the other guests at Stephan and Dolly’s dinner table, Levin suddenly develops a new set of eyes with which to see the world. Kitty and Levin are not in the least bit interested in the conversation at hand, and instead, using acronyms, say everything that needs to be said about their love for one another.
Meanwhile, Dolly takes Alexey aside with the intent to persuade him not to divorce Anna, asking him to consider how it would “ruin her.”
An anxious Levin cannot wait to see Kitty again. His new look on life causes him to love everyone and everything. Kitty is up all night, too, and restless to see Levin again. Kitty’s father gives his approval of their engagement; he’s always wanted this. Even Mother is grateful. But my heart sinks to learn that Levin must make a confession to Kitty on two points; though she forgives him, it is disheartening.
Anna is dying...for forgiveness
Anna is in childbirth and is delusional. She sends for Alexey: she is dying and she must have his forgiveness. He faces Vronsky who is broken up by his own humiliation and the thought of losing Anna. Alexey makes his peace and forgives Anna. He cannot leave her now. It would ruin her.
Vronsky continues to re-live the shameful moment when he faced Alexey and the thought of losing Anna now; therefore, to “escape his humiliation and loss,” he shoots himself.
All has changed for Alexey: he has forgiven his wife and Vronsky and draws close to his son. He is even becoming fond of Anna’s new baby.
On second thought...you can take back your forgiveness
But Anna has recovered, and Vronsky only wounded himself. Anna is still miserable, but because Vronsky is killing her with his graciousness. It seems that Alexey’s forgiveness is not necessary after all. And the world is looking at Alexey to do something. He is trying to be guided by his conscience, but everything is working against his good judgment.
The day that Stephan visits his sister, Anna, she talks to him of her death. They discuss how her marriage to Alexey was a mistake, and her relationship with Vronsky is a misfortune.
When Stephan speaks to Alexey about his predicament, Alexey admits that divorce will ruin Anna, and that he, Alexey, would be the blame. Stephan suggests Alexey take the guilt for the infidelity, and he discloses that he would do it for Anna’s sake.
Finally, after he learns that Alexey has granted Anna a divorce, Vronsky quits the army, and goes abroad with her; however, she does not follow through with divorce proceedings.