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Jealousy as the cause of internal self-destruction in Kreutzer Sonata by Leo Tolstoy ( )

Jealousy as the cause of internal self-destruction in Kreutzer Sonata by Leo Tolstoy ( )

Jealousy as the cause of internal self-destruction

In Kreutzer Sonata by Leo Tolstoy

Jealousy is a fear of someone elses

superiority.

Alexander Dumas

The grand collection of the world literature grows faint from the

vast abundance of numerous approaches to the issue of jealousy and adultery

that have been accumulated throughout centuries by different authors. This

particular topic was used in Greek comedies, Roman tragedies, in writings

of later Romanticists and Realists. However, only in the nineteenth

century when psychology, developed within, the subject of jealousy in

literature that exaggerated love tales turned to deep psychological dramas

with characters soul-searching within the meticulous analysis of events.

One of the most prominent giants in literature Leo Tolstoy was famous for

combining detailed physical description with perceptive psychological

insight. He conveys to a reader the bare human intimacy of gestures, deeds

and thoughts of the jealous psychic soul. His story Kreutzer Sonata

examines the basic drives, emotions and motives of ordinary people

searching for answers to the questions of life. One of them is that

jealousy causes internal self-destruction.

Prior to an analysis of the narrative of the story, where a jealous

husband is presented, the nature of jealousy needs to be illuminated for

the audience. After hearing the various theories on love by his fellow

passengers on a train, an insanely jealous man named Pozdnyshev blurts out

that he killed his wife, whom he suspected of carrying on an affair with a

violinist. Then he reveals the story of how he came to such an extreme

action.

What turned his life into a misery full of disappointment, anger and

itchy craving that ruined his life as well as someone elses life?

Jealousy. This emotion made his gut ache, his blood boil and his logic

disappear along with common sense. Pozdnyshev took jealousy and cast it

into self-doubt, insecurity and desperation. During the whole of my

married life I never ceased to be tormented by jealousy, reveals his

confession. (Tolstoy, p.189)

As Websters Dictionary defines it, the word jealous means

suspiciously watchful; distrustful, or faithless; envious; anxiously

solicitous.(Outcry magazine, Making the Most of Jealousy) All of these

qualities drove the main character to the murder and absolute self-

desecration. His life is wretched, he has no motivating objectives left,

no aspirations to follow, no goals to accomplish. His children are taken

away from him by his sister-in-law, and he is abandoned by the entire

world. In essence The Kreutzer Sonata presents a distorted view of love,

especially of sexual experience. Pozdnyshevs nightmarish, feverish

narrative of his marriage in its later stages intensifies in rage and

intelligence vanishes as a ravaging emotion of jealousy captures the utmost

attention.

Beethovens Kreutzer Sonata thrusts Pozdnyshev into ultimate degree

of jealousy that drives him to imminent self-destruction and to the villain

murder. Music is the most perfect form of art to grasp jealousy over the

mind. It is detached from the hierarchy of all other arts by not dwelling

above them but by creating its own unique world. Music does not reflect

either ugliness of life or sufferings generated by it. Music, through the

fact of its existence drives off everything that is anxious and annoying.

Music is the rhythm of life, a tender, caring rhythm that banishes any

torment. Indeed, it is not overly complicated to draw a parallel between

music and human emotions in general. Yet, music was the catalyst that

accelerated the breakdown of Pozdnyshevs marriage. The musical

relationship between Trukhachevskiy and Pozdnyshevs wife is itself a

sensual, sexual one. The intercourse between piano and violin in

Beethovens sonata is suggestive of this and although there is no notion

of any explicitly physical contact between the two, the contact between

violin and piano, as it is described makes Pozdnyshevs jealousy look well-

founded.

Pozdnyshev claims that it was just one part of Beethovens masterpiece

that propels his suspicion to grow into a firm belief in his wife

infidelity. Psychologists suggest that men react to jealousy with anger

towards their sexual partner and the third party and are more miserable by

sexual impropriety than by mental perfidiousness. Sexual jealousy is the

threat or perceived threat to a relationship between two individuals who

are physically or sexually involved. (Final Exam: Sociobiological Aspects

of Sexual Jealousy) Jealousy and murder grow out of and are really at one

with, the sexual attraction, which brought Pozdnyshev and his wife together

in the first place, and which held their marriage together.

Pozdnyshev accentuates that specifically the first presto of the

Kreutzer Sonata is the exquisite voluptuousness of the senses and the

link between them. (Tolstoy, p. 218) He is not particularly impressed

with the common and unoriginal andante and the very weak finale.

However, the first allegro turns out to be an allegation of his wifes

adultery. What animated slide show is running in Pozdnyshevs inflamed

imagination when he listens to the piece so masterfully performed by his

wife and Trukhachevsky?

Kreutzer Sonata is a very solid, yet unobtrusive piece of music. It

is flowing into the mood, brightens it up and softens down. The first

presto is not long, yet it reflects a sinful abundance of passion. Indeed,

the dialogue of the violin and the piano amazes with its vivacity and

glorification of feelings. It overwhelms and subdues emotions from the

very first loud pianos accords and violin singing its second part to piano

on the contrary in a tender, twittering tone. Then piano is flying into

crescendo and as if waiting for the imminent amalgamation of two hearts

into sweet harmony of an increasing rhythm, it decides to cease to a

voluptuous retreat. But prior to the immediate withdrawal it sends

sensuous hints of the near victory to the violin. And if though the violin

senses this hesitation it falls into flirting, mischievous playfulness.

The next swift turns into calamity, sweet exhaustion of piano and violin,

when a dialogue of two is almost sound. They are questioning, comforting

each other, and perhaps seeking an answer to maybe not? But it does not

last long, because the next accords of piano are assertive and irresistibly

inviting. There is a notion of violin speculations and balance upon a thin

line while making the right decision, but the crowning part of the allegro

is the triumph over obstacles, doubts and moral norms. It is a celebration

of feelings, glory of eroticism and delight of lust.

This professedly was the Pozdnyshevs vision of the Kreutzer Sonata

and his interpretation of the performance. Was it correct? Tolstoy never

gives any explicit and clear depiction of the alleged affair. However,

very animating and present in Pozdnyshevs mind, this rendition of music

generated into unrestrained beast of jealousy that drove him gradually yet

inevitably to self-destruction and a murder as a consequence of own moral

degradation.

 
 

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