“Anna Karenina” and “Love in the Time of Cholera” arestories that focus on the theme of love. The narratives illustratethe unending pursuit of love by the main characters. The love storieshave both similarities and differences. The similarities in the lovestories include the rejection by lovers and the inability to loveopenly due to fear of society. The difference is that one of the lovestories in “Anna Karenina” ends tragically, while in “Love inthe Time of Cholera” the lovers end up exiled at sea.
Rejection by lovers – in both love stories some characters areinitially rejected by the people they love although they eventuallyend up together.
In “Anna Karenina” the rejection is illustrated by the charactersLevin and Kitty. Kitty is courted by two men. These are a landownercalled Levin and a man who works in the military called Vronsky.Levin is a friend to Oblonsky, who is Kitty’s brother-in-law. Inorder to declare his love interest to Kitty, he is compelled to talkto Oblonsky who assists him in planning on how Levin and Kitty canmeet. Oblonsky tells Levin to meet Kitty at the park where sheice-skates. Both characters eventually meet and Levin declares hislove for Kitty by proposing to marry her (Tolstoy 26-27). However,Kitty is more interested in her other suitor. She hopes that Vronskywill propose to her. Upon realizing this Levin feels rejected becauseKitty refuses her love proposal. However, Vronsky does not propose toKitty, but instead becomes attracted to another woman. Kitty feelsrejected, which causes her to fall sick. Eventually, Levin isconvinced that he needs to woe Kitty again after learning about herillness. This time his proposal is successful, leading to Levin andKitty’s marriage.
In “Love in The Time of Cholera” rejection is apparent throughthe love story between Florentino and Fermina. The characters meetfor the first time when Florentino delivers a telegram to Fermina’sfather. Florentino courageously confronts Fermina and offers to giveher a letter. However, she cannot accept the letter without consentfrom her father (Marquez 40-41). Following her father’s consent sheaccepts the love letter from Florentino. Fermina responds approvinglyto Florentino’s love request. The couple ends up exchanging loveletters. Florentino proposes to marry Fermina, which she accepts, buttheir love ends abruptly when Fermina is caught writing a loveletter. As a result, her father takes her on a long journey to ensureshe forgets about Florentino. When Fermina returns, Florentinoattempts to woo her again, but she is disgusted by him, and rejectshim (Marquez 37). She is eventually forced by her father to getmarried to Dr. Urbino, which heartbreaks Florentino. In the end, whenDr. Urbino passes away, Florentino once again tries to woo Fermina.Although, she rejects at first, she eventually accepts to love himand they end up trapped in a ship at sea.
The inability to love freely due to fear of society – some of thecharacters cannot love each other due to the judgmental society theylive in.
In “Anna Karenina” Anna and Vronsky fall in love but are unableto freely be together due to the ridicule from society. When Vronskymeets Anna he is smitten by her and breaks up his love with Kitty. Atfirst Anna feels infatuated with Vronsky. However, the more bothcharacters meet and after Vronsky declares his love for her, sherealizes that she has fallen in love with him. When Anna’s husbandconfronts her at first she denies, but it becomes impossible to hidethe love and she confesses to having an affair. The husband, Kareninis bewildered, but refuses to divorce Anna upon her request (Tolstoy254). Karenin states that they must maintain their societalappearance as a perfectly marriage couple. As such, Anna and Vronskycannot love each other freely because society will charge her harshlyfor having an affair while married. Anna and Vronsky escape to Italywhere they are able to love each other aimlessly. But, upon theirreturn to Russia, Anna is despised by society, which considers heradulterous. The inability to love freely is also expressed by Annaand Levin. Despite knowing of the affair, Levin cannot divorce Annabecause he is afraid of what society will say. Hence, he has topretend to love her, and so does Anna.
In “Love in the Time of Cholera” the similarity is illustrated byUrbino and Fermina as well as Fermina and Florentino. When Dr. Urbinocourts Fermina, she is not interested in him. However, she iscompelled by her father to get married to Urbino because he is aprominent physician (Simpson 1). It is obvious that Fermina iscompelled to get married to Urbino in order to please her father.Despite Fermina approving Florentino’s proposal, she cannot getmarried to him because the father does not like their relationship.Florentino truly loves Fermina, but cannot be with her because as persociety, she is already married to someone else. Eventually, whenUrbino passes away, Florentino seizes the opportunity to woo Ferminadespite all the years that have passed. Fermina is angry atFlorentino’s proposal because she is afraid of how society willjudge her. They both meet at Fermina’s home and once again theirlove rekindles. Once, Fermina accompanies Florentino on a cruisewhere they make love. However, on their way back from the voyage,Fermina sees people and is afraid of what they will say upon seeingher with Florentino. It is obvious that she cannot freely loveFlorentino due to fear of society’s judgment about their love.
The love between Anna and Vronsky in “Anna Karenina” endstragically. When the lovers return from Italy, society harshly judgesAnna as adulterous. Anna feels that the society is unfair consideringthat Vronsky does not receive the same ridicule despite being in arelationship with a married woman. Anna, at the same time, is angryat Vronsky because she feels that he is no longer interested in her.Vronsky tries to understand her, but Anna becomes moreunaccommodating. Vronsky leaves and Anna feels remorse for how shetreats him. She resorts to meet him at a train station, but uponarrival she despairs due to the crowds that daze at her judgmentallycausing her to throw herself under an oncoming train resulting in hertragic death (Tolstoy 689). Fermina and Florentino in “Love in theTime of Cholera” on the other hand, go on a voyage together. Thelovers make love, which could be a sign on their rekindling love. Asthe ship approaches the last port, Fermina spots people and is afraidof what they will say. Florentino compels the ship captain to raise aflag. The yellow flag is an indication that the people on board havecholera and hence the ship cannot dock. The story ends with thecouple’s exile in the ship.
Nature of Love
Based on the narratives, it is apparent that love is both auniversal constant as well as something, which is formed by place andtime. It is a universal constant because Florentino and Levin do notstop loving Fermina and Kitty respectively. Despite both initiallybeing rejected by their lovers at first, they still hold on to thelove and eventually end up together. Love is shaped by time becausethe more the characters spend time together, the more they fall inlove. This is illustrated by Fermina and Florentino, who are able tolove one another again after spending time at Fermina’s home. It isshaped by place because the society of the characters limits theirability to freely love each other.
Marquez, Gabriel G. Love in the Time of Cholera. Alfred A.Knopf Inc.: New York, 1988.
Simpson, Mona. Love Letters. LondonReview of Books, 10.15:(1988). http://www.lrb.co.uk/v10/n15/mona-simpson/love-letters
Tolstoy, Leo.Anna Karenina.Mineola: Dover Publications,2004. Internet resource.