The main characters in Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and Patrick Marber’s Closer literally and figuratively surround themselves with images of themselves and others that define how they choose to see and be seen. Using the framework of Tolstoy’s What Is Art?, this paper evaluates how these images affect the characters’ relationships with one another. Tolstoy writes that art should enable humanity to pursue an ideal of unity with one another, but the characters’ ideals are more self-centered, making it so that the images they use prevent them from authentically connecting with each other. Proximity with suffering and death can tear down the characters’ images, providing the opportunity for more authentic connection.
Kiers, Leah, ""Everyone Learns, Nobody Changes": Images and the Ideal in Anna Karenina and Closer" (2023). English Senior Capstone. 29.