Part one, chapter one of Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina reveals all of the essential aspects in novel. Before the reader even has the opportunity to distinguish what the first paragraph has to offer, Tolstoy sums up the entire novel within the words of a brief statement. "All happy families resemble one another, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." (Tolstoy p.1). Immediately, Tolstoy invites the reader to know they will be acquainted with a fill of emotions through the eyes of several families. Out blossom all three themes of love, family life, and marriage. Aside from Tolstoy establishing the mood, he introduces his audience to two vital characters who institute the concept of a broken home. Tolstoy accomplishes using the first chapter to the fullest in order to set the foundation for Anna Karenina.
The opening scene in the household of Stephen and Dolly Oblonsky is a disheartening yet crucial scene. Stephen understands he has hurt his wife not only by committing adultery, but more so by being caught off guard when confronted about the letter divulging his secret with the French Governess. Even through this tragic time for his family, he drowns himself in his profession to avoid the inevitable confrontation with Dolly. .
At that moment there had happened to him what happens to most people when unexpectedly caught in some shameful act: he had not had time to assume an expression suitable to the position in which he stood toward his wife now that his guilt was discovered. (Tolstoy p.2) .
By devoting himself to his work during this trying time for his family, it demonstrated that Stephen's work in politics symbolized the fraudulent methods he brought upon his marriage. Tolstoy introduces one of the themes in the novel here which compares the effects of a life in the city compared to the countryside (which a later character Constantine Levin preferred). The entire opening two pages of the novel more importantly foreshadow the events to come with Anna Karenina and her husband and her husband Alexis Karenin.