Oblonsky tells Levin that a rival suitor is courting Kitty: Count Vronsky, a rich, handsome charming military officer. Oblonsky advises Levin to propose to Kitty the next morning. Levin becomes self-conscious and tries to change the subject.
Oblonsky’s description of Vronsky represents everything Levin wishes he were. Levin is ashamed because he thinks that his love for Kitty has become soiled through discussion—he is much more a man of action than speech.
Oblonsky broaches a hypothetical discussion of infidelity to Levin that mirrors his own actual situation. Suppose a man with an aging wife had an affair with the governess in the house: doesn’t the young woman deserve recompense? Levin replies that according to Plato, there can be no drama between the love of soul mates and that the fallen woman deserves no recompense. After the two men sit for a bit longer, Levin leaves to call on the Shcherbatskys.
Levin has a pure, uncomplicated idea of love: he believes that when people are meant to be together, their love is clear and pure. Although Levin and Oblonsky have bared their souls to each other, the two feel more estranged than connected.