The characters’ relationship with the natural world
is symbolic throughout the novel: the more that characters are in touch with nature, the happier they are, but characters who are hypocritical are less connected to the natural world. When Vronsky
is riding with Frou-Frou
in the race, he grows over-confident. As in Greek mythology, when Icarus flies too close to the sun and falls, when Vronsky does not pay attention to the natural rhythms of his horse and his connection with the animal, Frou-Frou falls and must be killed. Frou-Frou is symbolic of Vronsky and Anna’s
relationship: although Vronsky believes he can ride past everyone and succeed in both the horserace and his affair, he does not quite situate himself correctly, and both horse and affair ultimately collapse. Vronsky and Anna are out of touch with the natural rhythm of things: although they surround themselves with luxuries, they do not have an emotional bond with their child, and their own relationship only fractures and weakens instead of taking root and growing stronger. Levin is the main character who is the most in touch with nature throughout the novel. He is deeply attuned to the signals of the natural world, feeling happy when he sees sticky little leaves and buds on the trees. Tolstoy also even provides a few scenes from the perspective of Laska
, Levin’s hunting dog, as a counterpoint against the hypocrisy of many of the humans in the novel. The weather often mirrors characters’ moods. For example, at the end of the novel, when Koznyshev
gets into an argument on Levin’s estate, storm clouds gather and darken; the storm clouds at this point also signify potential danger for Kitty and Mitya in the forest, but when Levin finds his wife and son safe and sound, the rain clears.