At Princess Betsy’s party, two ladies are present who are part of a new, elite social group in Petersburg that is openly hostile to Anna’s social circle. Anna knew that these ladies would be there, but she wanted to go to the party to see Vronsky. However, after she arrives, she sees Vronsky’s footman deliver a note and remembers too late that Vronsky had said he was not coming to the party.
Although Anna thinks she is entering a hostile social circle when she goes to Betsy’s party, the ladies flock to her; she is still the belle of the ball. Anna is adored by society when she doesn’t cling to what they think. Her attention is focused on Vronsky’s whereabouts, not on the opinions of the other women.
Betsy tells Anna that Vronsky is not coming to the party. Betsy writes a note to give to Vronsky’s footman, and when she leaves the room for a moment, Anna adds at the bottom that she needs to see Vronsky and arranges a meeting-place. Betsy tells Anna that Liza, one of the ladies in the hostile social circle, admires Anna. Betsy also tells Anna not to take everything so seriously and tragically.
Betsy advises Anna to treat society more like a game and to loosen up about having an affair. Anna, however, still has deep emotions and cannot treat everything in a completely cavalier fashion. This is one of the interesting tensions in the novel. Russian society is prepared to accept Anna’s affair as long she sees it as a frivolity. What Russian society won’t accept is an affair based on love.