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Though Anna and Karenin continue to live together formally, they are completely estranged; Vronsky never visits the Karenin house, but Anna continues to see him. The situation is painful, but all three think that it’s temporary, though for different reasons.
Karenin only cares about maintaining a correct social façade, even though the marriage is a sham. Anna is convinced that if she plays her cards correctly, she can continue in her accustomed lifestyle while carrying on the affair with Vronsky.
That winter, Vronsky has to escort a foreign prince for a week around Petersburg and show him the Russian pleasures. Although the prince adores the carousing, the amusements that were once fun to Vronsky now seem burdensome, and Vronsky is embarrassed to think that he acts as arrogantly as the prince.
Vronsky’s discomfort with the foreign prince and his irritability with Russian society demonstrates a shift in the balance of power in Vronsky’s interior life. Society is no longer a glittering game to him; rather, he is stressed and bored by the amusements that once seemed light and easy. The suggestion is that his love for Anna has caused this shift in him.