“‘Joined those who were separate in a union of love which cannot be sundered.’ How profound these words are, and how well they correspond to what one feels at this moment!” thought Levin.

When Levin gets married to Kitty, he realizes that he is entering into a union that is profound and meaningful. He is greatly moved at the wedding ceremony and thinks to himself that the priest’s words are articulating everything he feels but cannot voice. He senses that his marriage to Kitty will be far more important and life-changing than anything he has yet experienced. This moment not only explores the joys of marriage and love, but also foreshadows Levin’s eventual return to Christianity, as the words of the Bible on this matter directly correlate to Levin’s feelings, implying that he believes in Christian values despite his skepticism.

He could not help knowing that he was cleverer than his wife and Agafya Mikhailovna, and he also could not help knowing that whenever he thought about death, he thought about it with all the strength of his soul. He also knew that a great many male intellects, whose thoughts about it he had read, had ruminated about it without knowing a fraction of what his wife and Agafya Mikhailovna knew about it.

When Levin’s brother is dying, he initially does not want to bring Kitty to Nikolai’s deathbed, but he soon discovers that Kitty has a much more instinctual understanding of how to handle death. She takes over Nikolai’s care and comforts him in his last days, which also brings comfort to Levin, who knows he would not have been able to do the same for his brother. While Levin is quite a bit more educated than Kitty, who, as a woman, would not have had the same level of schooling as Levin, he sees that, despite this, she and other women have their own understanding of the world. Tolstoy subscribed to the traditional, patriarchal notion that men and women complement each other by fulfilling separate roles based on gender, forming a perfect whole through marriage and family. One of these traditionally feminine roles is the ability to care for and nurse others, and Levin sees that his life has been enriched by having a wife who can fulfill this role that he cannot.

But now, thanks to his wife being close by, that feeling did not reduce him to despair; he felt the need for life and love in spite of death. He felt that love had saved him from despair, and that this love had become even stronger and purer in the face of despair.

Levin is often prone to dark and depressing thoughts, especially after the death of his brother. Nikolai’s death sends Levin into an existential crisis, reminding him of his own mortality and of the inevitability of his life and achievements being lost to time. But his marriage to Kitty keeps him hopeful, and shows him that despite his mortality, there is something worthwhile to dedicate his life to: love and family. While Levin still has moments of despair and even suicidal ideation, he doesn’t surrender to them. He remains living, as he has a wife and child to care for.

She could not think of anything and could not speak. Seryozha understood everything she wanted to say to him. He understood she was unhappy and that she loved him.

The most difficult circumstance of Anna’s affair and consequent ostracization from society is her inability to see her son, who is the only person she loves as much as Vronsky. When she is finally reunited with him for the first and last time since her separation from Karenin, she wants to articulate the depths of her love for him. But she is filled with emotion and can’t speak. Despite this, Anna knows her son instinctually understands everything. Their bond, which is the unique bond of a mother and child, is so strong that they do not need words to communicate.

Memories of home and her children were springing up in her imagination with a particular new charm, shining with a new brightness. This world of hers now seemed to her so precious and lovely that she did not under any circumstance want to spend an extra day away from it.

When Dolly travels to visit Anna during her time living at Vronsky’s country estate, Dolly spends the journey completely understanding and respecting Anna’s actions, and even wishing that she herself could do the same. Dolly is in an unhappy marriage, and she daydreams about finding a lover just as Anna has. But after seeing that Anna’s affair has only exchanged one kind of unhappiness for another and has greatly decreased her quality of life, Dolly remembers how much she loves and cherishes her children, and she yearns to be with them. While Dolly still understands Anna’s choices, she feels more confident in her own. Anna left an unhappy marriage but lost her child; Dolly stayed in an unhappy marriage but kept her children. Her relationship with her children sustains her through the pain of her strained marriage.