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Essay on Comparing Anton Chekhov's and Joyce Oates' The Lady with the Dog

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Anton Chekhov wrote a short story in 1899, entitled "The Lady with the Pet Dog." It is about a love affair seen from the eyes of the involved man named Gurov. The story occurs in nineteenth-century Russia, in a town called Yalta. Joyce Carol Oates, in 1972, did a wonderful job of rewriting the story, changing the protagonist from the man to the woman. Her version also changes the setting to Nantucket Island in twentieth-century America. Looking at both stories, one can learn a lot about the couple's affair. Although the man and woman have different motives and ways of dealing with guilt, both condone the relationship while still married to separate people.

There are three factors which all affairs contain: factors that "shove," factors that "pull," and "societal" factors (Vaughan 1). At the beginning in each story, Gurov is "pushed" into the affair; just as he was pushed into his marriage and work He is a Muscovite, married by arrangement to a woman who gave him three children. He considers his wife "of limited intelligence, narrow-minded, dowdy" (Chekhov 166). He went to school to study literature, but because his wife did not find it admirable, he now works at a bank(Callow 313). He is downcast because of his shortcomings and forced circumstances, and therefore feels shoved into looking for other options. Consequently, he cheats on his wife, a practice he began long ago, having affairs partly because his wife "loved without sincerity, with too many words" (Chekhov 168). Because of his wife, he refers to all women as the "inferior race" (Chekhov 166).

He finds that he prefers the company of women because men make him feel uncomfortable. With women, he feels free to discuss anything or even sit in silence...


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...ften- perhaps 50-65% by the time they are forty. This data has only gotten worse. Women today are having more affairs in the workplace and on the Internet. Female figures are now probably catching up to those of men (Vaughan 2). These statistics are alarming.

However, even though the two versions of the story "The Lady with the Pet Dog," reinforce this notion, they show the destructive force of such a relationship and the response of the human heart. They validate the secular way of thinking and make us question the strength and sincerity of our moral beliefs. Even though Gurov and Anna have different reasons for having the affair and dealt with their grief differently, they both justify their relationship because they have grown to love each other.

Works Cited:

Chekhov. Anton Pavlovich. "The Lady with the Dog." Trans. Ivy Litvinov. Matlaw 221-35.




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