Anna and Vronsky had never before had a quarrel that lasted a whole day. Anna imagines that Vronsky says cruel words to her, and then she cannot forgive him, as if he had actually said them. When Vronsky returns home and goes to bed instead of going to see Anna, she tells herself that it’s all over—even though she had given instructions for Vronsky not to see her, she wanted him to come in spite of it. Anna sees death as the only way to punish him and for him to love her.
Anna’s son displayed his mother’s propensity toward imagination when he imagined a world in which Anna would come back and they would live happily together. However, in Anna’s highly hectic present state, the bright line between reality and the imagination has blurred to the point of vanishing. The only solution she can see is to remove herself entirely through death.
Anna drinks opium and imagines Vronsky’s remorse if she were to die. She looks at him tenderly as he sleeps in his study. Anna has her recurring nightmare with the peasant muttering French words. When Anna wakes up, she initially feels better, but then she sees the young princess whom Vronsky’s mother wants him to marry bringing a package to Vronsky, and she is gripped with anger again.
Opium, for Anna, allows her a form of escape, and she has been relying more and more on the drug to calm herself down. In her drug-addled state, she dreamily luxuriates in her vision of Vronsky mourning her death: death, to Anna, is rapidly becoming the only way she can see that will bind Vronsky to her.
Anna tells Vronsky that he is going to the country tomorrow. He says that they cannot live like this. Vronsky almost runs after her, but decides that the only thing he hasn’t tried in response to Anna’s hysterics is to pay her no attention, so he ignores her and leaves the house. As the carriage is prepared, Anna hears someone running back to the house, but it is Vronsky’s valet.
Vronsky reasons that since he’s tried every tactic under the sun to calm Anna down, the only thing left to do is to not pay any attention to her increasing hysterics, so he leaves, finally breaking Anna’s ability to pull him back unequivocally with a hectic word.