Here we go with some reality noding. This paper goes to my English class in a few hours. Luckily this is a rough draft, so I can get some more work done on it. This essay is supposed to take a look at The Lady with the Pet Dog by Anton Chekhov and take a look at three "elements of fiction" like setting, plot, the characters and the point of view.
In 1899, famed Russian author, Anton Chekhov, penned The Lady with a Pet Dog, a short story chronicling a time in the life of the fictional Dmitry Dmitrich Gurov. In the story, Gurov, while on a holiday in Yalta, meets Anna Sergeyevna, a lady who’s vacationing from her husband and life with her Pomeranian. It is in the swinging resort of Yalta that the two would start their adulterous love life, only to have it continue in secrecy on the streets of Moscow later, once Gurov catches up with the only woman who left him on her own terms. Essentially a love story, The Lady with the Pet Dog follows the two lovers as they meet, depart, and meet each other again, only to run away together at the very end. Chekhov delights the reader’s palette with his powerful characters that are entwined in the realistic backings of the Russian landscape. The narration follows Gurov, as he visits various locales in three Russian cities. The tale ends with business unfinished, as the two are determined to make their relationship work out, only the how is left open to the reader.
To understand The Lady with a Pet Dog, one must attempt to understand Gurov, the affluent, adulterous businessman. Gurov lives in the Russian city of Moscow and vacations often in the warm climate and relaxed temperament of Yalta, which sits in the Crimean Peninsula on the coast of the Black Sea. Chekhov makes it known that Gurov is not the happiest in his current situation, pointing out that “He was under forty, but he already had a daughter twelve years old, and two sons at school. They had found a wife for him when he was very young.”1 This makes it seem as if it was not Gurov’s intention to get married to his wife, and that she had become pregnant and it was the only option left. This, in turn, could also have caused the chauvinistic feelings he had while he was younger, often referring to women as “The inferior race.” Physically, Gurov is attractive to women, “In his appearance, in his character, in his whole makeup there was something attractive and elusive that disposed women in is favor and allured them.”2 This is what allowed him to meet his mistresses and start off affairs. However, Gurov grows throughout the passages of the story. At the end of the story he finds himself gray with age, “His hair was beginning to turn gray. And it seemed odd to him that he had grown so much older in the last few years, and lost his looks.”3 His world changed when he met Anna Sergeyevna, the lady with the pet dog.
Anna Sergeyevna shows many differences that place her apart from Gurov, at the same time; she knows that the two of them are in the same boat. Anna is visiting Yalta to get away from her tall, flunkey, politician husband. She was upset at him and took the dog on vacation. She is introduced as a mystery, a pretty young lady with a beret and a Pomeranian, nameless in the Yalta crowds. She was, anyway, until she sat next to Gurov at a restaurant. She would be the untouchable rabbit to Gurov’s race hound, but not for long. The two would meet while Gurov was dining in the public gardens, and would instantly start up some chatter between the two, which would later turn into a nighttime stroll. Anna is different than Gurov. While both were not looking for a fling in Yalta, nor for anyone in specific, they were looking for escape from their lives. Anna stayed in Yalta for about a month until she received a letter from her husband. Earlier in her vacation, Anna would take trips down to the docks, to see if he decided to come down and pick her up, instead, she got a letter saying that he had eye trouble. This would cause the two lovers to separate, with Anna going home to S---- and Gurov back home to Moscow.
Gurov would not find happiness in Moscow, and while his mind was not burning with the notion of what was with Anna, he was definitely followed by what could have been, “But more than a month went by, winter cam into its own, and everything was still clear in his memory as though he had parted from Anna Sergeyevna only yesterday. And his memories glowed more and more vividly.”4 Gurov was entranced by her. She was the only one who ever left him on her own terms, the only woman Gurov had not used and tired with. Because of this and her vivid memory, Gurov could not get used to the life he used to lead in Moscow, that of an educated banker. He couldn’t stand his contemporaries and also the fact that he could not talk about Anna. In December he would hop aboard a train and head to the gray land that is S----. Once in S----, he hunted her down, first by pacing in front of her house and then by luck, at the premier of The Geisha. Their meeting here would be short, as Anna was surprised and shocked by Gurov’s presence. Anna told him that she would meet him in Moscow, that it was not safe there. Again, Anna was playing him into her own terms and into situations in which she controlled.
The two would work out a method for making their acquaintances in Moscow. She would go to a hotel and send for a messenger in a red cap, who would travel and meet with Gurov and let him know that she was in town. The two had to maintain a secret relationship in the cold city. They hid from the outside world completely when they were together. Their once happy and carefree time in Yalta had changed dramatically. Chekhov ends the story with the two lovers adamant in creating a new life together, “A new and glorious life would begin; and it was clear to both of them that the end was still far off, and that what was to be most complicated and difficult for them was only just beginning.”5 Indeed it was, the two would have to cut themselves away from their family’s, hometown’s and everything else they had going for them.
The action of this short story takes place in three places. First off, is Yalta, the warm, relaxed city on the beach. This is where the lovers first met, and the location of Yalta is important, as any other locale might not have the air of freedom from relationships that Yalta had to it at that time. Yalta is juxtaposed with Moscow, the cold bustling capitol of Russia. It is here that Gurov finds only anger and unhappiness. In a city containing millions of people, he felt alone, at least until he returns and starts meeting with Anna. Not much description is given of S----. The town does not even have a name, showing how unimportant, and anonymous, the town is.
The narration follows Gurov as he tries to decide how to go about the lady with the pet dog. The narrator speaks as a third person with limited omniscience, not only describing the actions taken, but also giving insights into Gurov’s, and occasionally Anna’s, mind and thoughts.
In The Lady with the Pet Dog, Anton Chekhov paints a vivid portrait of two lovers, who were destined to meet each other, trapped inside their current relationships and lives. Using choice settings, along with a well thought out narration and characters that seem to leap off the page, Chekhov spins the tale of lovers that are pressured by everything except themselves. Gurov and Anna manage to overcome society, and their own fears about themselves as the move off into a new day together, one where they hopefully will not have to hide.
The copy of The Lady with the Pet Dog I used appears on pages 165-176 in the fifth edition of the Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature book by Michael Meyer.
- Paragraph 4
- Paragraph 5
- Paragraph 115
- Paragraph 63
- Paragraph 121