The Lady With The Dog by Anton Chekhov
- Length: 1595 words (4.6 double-spaced pages)
- Rating: Excellent
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, naïve 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.
Chekhov. Anton Pavlovich. "The Lady with the Dog." Trans. Ivy Litvinov. Matlaw