Anna Karenina's husband, Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin, is a contradictory character I can't quite figure out. I can't decide if he isn't particularly well-drawn or if he's actually so well-drawn that he's as difficult to put in a box as a real human being would be -- but I suspect it's the latter. Poor Karenin is a dull fellow, deeply concerned with appearances, who can sometimes be very unpleasant. And yet he's got some endearing qualities, too, like the way he responds to Anna's plea for forgiveness when she thinks she is dying from puerperal fever after giving birth to little Annie, her lover Vronsky's child, and especially the way he responds to the newborn:
He forgave his wife and pitied her for her sufferings and repentance. He forgave Vronsky and pitied him, especially after rumours reached him of his desperate act. He also pitied his son more than before, and now reproached himself for having been too little concerned with him. But for the newborn little girl he had some special feeling, not only of pity but also of tenderness. At first it was only out of compassion that he concerned himself with the newborn, weak little girl, who was not his daughter and who was neglected during her mother's illness and would probably have died if he had not looked after her -- and he did not notice how he came to love her. He went to the nursery several times a day and sat there for a long while, so that the wet nurse and the nanny, who were intimidated at first, became used to him. He would sometimes spend half an hour silently gazing at the saffron-red, downy and wrinkled little face of the sleeping baby, watching the movements of her scowling forehead and plump little hands with curled fingers that rubbed her little eyes and nose with their backs. At such moments especially Alexei Alexandrovich felt utterly at peace and in harmony with himself, and saw nothing extraordinary in his situation, nothing that needed to be changed.
But the more time that passed, the more clearly he saw that, natural as this situation was for him now, he would not be allowed to remain in it. He felt that, besides the good spiritual force that guided his soul, there was another force, crude and equally powerful, if not more so, that guided his life, and that this force would not give him the humble peace he desired. He felt that everybody looked at him with questioning surprise, not understanding him and expecting something from him. In particular, he felt the precariousness and unnaturalness of his relations with his wife.