Anton Chekhov: “The Lady with the dog”

A story The Lady with the dog is considered as one of the best short stories of all the time, at least in the Russian literature. It was created by the famous Russian author Anton Chekhov and it was originally published in 1899.

In this story, Anton Chekhov describes the love affair between two ordinary people, the banker Gurov and the young wife of a provincial bureaucrat Anna,that spend their vacation in Yalta.
Main heroes of The Lady with the dog are bored with life and trapped in their circumstances and marriages. They feel that their lives should be different, they are bored to death and they have a very unpleasant feeling that they just can’t escape from such way of living.

Anna doesn’t love and I presume even despise her husband which she calls a flunkey when she describes him. Neither Gurov loves his wife who was described as an almost stranger to him, he even tries to avoid her presence as much as possible. The reader also is not able to find any sigh of Gurov’s love to his own children in the text of the story.
It’s interesting for the reader to follow Chekhov’s story, the way he shows these characters in the beginning – absolutely bored with everything and in search for something new, easy and entertaining and in the end – with their changed attitudes towards each other and probably towards life in general. In the end of the story their previous life experiences appeared to them to be wrong and pathetic.

At first, Gurov’s attitude towards Anna is cynical, rational and quite cold; it’s just a usual affair, one of a line, as many of his earlier relationships. He’s self-indulgent person, unfaithful to his wife that sees this affair as transitory thing that will end soon.

But during the story, Gurov recognizes that something is going on, and his attitude to this new woman significantly changes. On his arrival back to Moscow, he has a strange feeling that Anna is following him everywhere he goes and it appears that he just can’t forget her. A simple affair on vacation turns out to be the real love of his life.
In Moscow Gurov tries to share his feelings with someone, finally he decides to tell about Anna his friend, and fortunately the lack of interest from this man draws his att5ention to his trivial way of life, on useless talks and subjects.

Influenced by these new feelings, Gurov decides to visit Anna in Saratov and speaks to her convincing to meet him in Moscow. “They are in love, yet they can see no way to be permanently together. Eventually they discover that this clandestine love has become their reality, and their lives with their families are now only shadows, meaningless but impossible to escape.” (Fulford 331)
Until the scene in her hotel room we do not notice anything particular about a lady with a dog. Anna is just a common upper-class married woman that visits Yalta for the first time. She travels alone and feels a little bit bored. But later, after the scene of Anna’s seduction, she demonstrates a passionate explosion of emotions, of guilt and disgrace.

We may compare Anna to the main character Gurov, because despite their age and personality, they both are made of contradictions. They are similar, they earn for something new and exciting in their ordinary lives. But on the opposite to Guriv, Anna is young and she is looking for adventure, but at the same time she needs to be honest with her husband.
Her marriage (unsuccessful in an emotional way, but not in material) somehow suffocates Anna, and she definitely wants to explore new things in life.

After their meeting in the theatre, Anna makes a promise to visit her lover in Moscow and the plans for their common future begin to build.
Anna is unprepared for these new relations, because she”˜s influenced by the nineteenth century moral, by her own principles, by her environment. Yalta was an opportunity to free from these bounds, while her city Saratov and Gurov’s Moscow create some kind of moral pressure, these cities remind about their obligations and inappropriate behavior.

At the same time, Gurov is used to live a life without love, he’s an easy going person, he’s got an unflattering opinion on women and I’m not confident that he’ll be able to bare the pressure and to support Anna fully.

What surprises a reader in the Lady with the dog is an absence of “closure” in this Chekhov’s story.
Author leaves it to us to decide about the possible future of his characters, he doesn’t want to dictate any moral, and in my opinion it gives even more charm to this story. There is infinity of possible endings.

Chekhov demonstrates that the world is seen through different eyes when the person is in love, because this feeling changes everything!
The main characters discover new features in themselves, for example, Gurov, who has never been in love before, couldn’t even imagine his new behavior.

Fulford Robert, Surprised by Love: Chekhov and “The Lady with the Dog”, Queen’s Quarterly. Volume: 111. Issue: 3. Fall 2004: 331, Print
Palmer James, Mastering Chekhov: Heifitz’s the Lady with the Dog, Literature/Film Quarterly. Volume: 19. Issue: 4. Publication Year: 1991: 252, Print
Schilb John and Clifford John, Chekhov Anton – The Lady with the Dog. Making Literature Matter: An Anthology For Readers and Writers, 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford/ St.Martin’s, 2003: 871-882. Print

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