Essay, Research Paper: Lady With Dog By Chekhov

Literature: Anton Chekhov

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In the beginning of the story, Chekhov begins with the simple line, “It was
said that a new person had appeared on the sea-front...” This passage shows
that the local residents of Yalta have discovered an outsider, a person they
know nothing about. Chekhov asks the reader to consider who is she with and why
is she there? The character of the sly womanizer, Dmitri Gurov, also asks these
questions. When first reading I began to form a certain opinion of Dmitri. We
know he is married and has children. He also admits to being unfaithful to his
wife on numerous occasions. He appears to not like women as he referred to them
as the “lower race.” This characteristic of his personality leads to the
encounter between himself, the unfaithful husband, and the young mysterious
Anna, in the gardens. “If she is here alone without a husband or friends, it
wouldn’t be amiss to make her acquaintance.” He stated of her. In the
character of Dmitri, Chekhov gives a man who seems to despise women; “he
almost always spoke ill of women...” However, I believe that this was an act
that he showed. “When he was in the company of women he felt free, and knew
what to say to them and how to behave; and he was at ease with them even when he
was silent.” If Gurov regarded women as the “lower race” than why was he
only at rest when in their company? In truth I think that he liked women, he
needed women. The reason he puts on this “tough guy” act is because he has
never found a woman that he truly loved. Every time he had met a new woman,
“he was eager for life, and everything seemed simple and amusing.” However,
“Every intimacy inevitably grows into a regular problem of extreme intricacy,
and in the long run the situation becomes unbearable.” Gurov did not know how
to handle long complicated relationships that took work to maintain. That is why
his marriage was a failure and unhappy. That is also the reason why he always
became frustrated and used women as a scapegoat. Dmitri is excited when he sees
the new mysterious woman; he sees a new opportunity to escape the monotonous
marriage he is trapped in. Even though everything always failed him before he
was unconsciously compelled to try and find something that worked. After meeting
“the lady with the dog”, he thought of “her slender, delicate neck, and
her lovely gray eyes.” Before he fell asleep though, he thought, “There’s
something pathetic about her, anyway,” as a reaction to what always seemed to
inevitably happened. He needs to protect his own feelings. As Gurov soon learns
after he meets her, the woman’s name is Anna Serveyevna. She struck me as a
very young, naпve woman who can sometimes be controlled by men. “She was
not sure whether her husband had a post in a Crown Department or under the
Provincial Council – and was amused by her own ignorance.” She does not even
care what her husband’s occupation is! She is not happy with her marriage. She
was shy and did not seem to be comfortable around men. When she had her first
conversation with Dmitri, she would answer him without looking at him as if
glancing at another man was forbidden. However, as the author stated earlier in
the story, Gurov knew how to approach unfamiliar woman and make them feel
comfortable in his presence. He was able to break through Anna’s shell and
coax her into opening up and discussing random things such as “strange light
on the sea” and “how sultry it was after a hot day.” As they continued to
meet, Anna’s passiveness continued to be reflected in the way she acted. He
asked her “Where shall we go now? Shall we drive somewhere?” to which her
replies were mere silence. Again later he drew his arm around her and kissed her
and requested that they traveled to her hotel. Nowhere in the text does the
woman suggest anything. She never appears to be the flirtatious one interested
in Gurov. Instead, she thinks of her high morals and values. After their first
sexual experience together, she described herself as “a low bad woman.” She
stated “I despise myself and don’t attempt to justify myself.” However,
her passiveness prevailed and she continued to care for the man who is not her
husband. She also did not think highly of her husband as much as she had thought
she had when he took her, as his wife. “I was twenty when I was married to
him. I have been tormented by curiosity; I wanted something better.” she
stated. She may have been a controllable woman but she had found a man to
control who was interesting and fun to be with. Even though her beliefs pointed
away from Gurov, he was able so sway her and convince her that she wanted to be
with him. Eventually Anna had to leave the enjoyable resort town of Yalta. Even
though she enjoyed her time with him, she still returns to her normal dry life
with her husband. It was the eighteenth century and as a woman she is expected
to be dedicated to her husband and nobody else. At this point, I believe that
Chekhov attempts to fool the reader. I think that he tries to put the reader in
suspense and possibly think that Anna has lost interest of Dmitri. You don’t
know what Anna is thinking because Chekhov only allows the reader think these
things by showing you the inside of Dmitri’s self-piteous thoughts. “He was
move, sad, and conscious of a slight remorse. This young woman whom he would
never meet again had not been happy with him; he was genuinely warm and
affectionate with her, but yet in his manner, his tone, and his caresses there
had been a shade of light irony, the coarse condescension of a happy man who
was, besides, almost twice her age.” Dmitri is beginning to feel sorry for
himself and frustrated that once again a woman he has cared for has not worked
in his subconscious quest for a fulfilling relationship. If he cannot be with
Anna he does not want to punish himself with her constantly filling his mind.
As, a result he tries to push Anna out of his head. Gurov goes for a long time
feeling this way about himself and yet he cannot shake the thoughts of his
“lady with the dog.” He tries to console himself with people around him but
to everyone else it is unimportant. It is also difficult to discuss with anybody
because he is still married and he is alone in this secret affair. All of these
feelings he has led me to believe that Anna no longer cared for Dmitri.
Eventually he decides that he cannot live on without her. Before this thought
occurred to him he “became absorbed in Moscow life. He already felt a longing
to go to restaurants, clubs, dinner-parties, and anniversary parties...in
another month, he fancied, the image of Anna Sergeyevna would be shrouded in a
mist in his memory.” Yet, a month came and went and Anna never left his
memory. “He was sick of his children, sick of the bank; he had no desire to go
anywhere or to talk of anything.” Everything else in his life has become
meaningless. “What senseless nights, what uninteresting, uneventful days! The
rage for card-playing, the gluttony, the drunkenness, the continual talk always
about the same thing.” These were the things that he had tried to occupy
himself with before. When Anna left he needed something to fill his void and
take up his thoughts. Now he realizes that nothing can take the place of her. He
needs to see her again and as a result he travels to her hometown to find her.
He arrived there only to become a stranger in uncomfortable surroundings.
Everything is unfamiliar and foreign and once again Chekhov presents Dmitri’s
thoughts to convince the reader that Anna is gone forever. Dmitri “walked up
and down, and loathed the gray fence more and more, and by now he thought
irritably that Anna Sergeyevna had forgotten him.” Yet he has to at least see
her in order to live once again. When he sees her at the theatre I think that
the reader finally realizes how miserable Anna is with her normal life with her
bland husband. He was described as a man who wasn’t attractive and even worse
a man who didn’t pay attention to his wife. At this point you can see that she
is unhappy and that she still thinks of the time she once had with Dmitri in
Yalta. In the end Dmitri is finally able to confront his problem of dealing with
a complicated relationship. He finally finds a woman that will return his
feelings and work along with him. Still though, I feel that the last sentence
foresees trouble in the future. “And it seemed as though in a little while the
solution would be found, and then a new and splendid life would begin; and it
was clear to both of them that they had still a long, long road before them, and
that the most complicated and difficult part of it was only just beginning.”
To me this sounded strangely familiar to all of the other woman that Dmitri had
fallen to in his past.
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