Short Story Analysis
"The Lady with the Pet Dog" by Anton Chekhov
Anton Chekhov was born in 1860 in Taganrog, Russia. Chekhov worked at a small grocery store that his father owned. His father imposed a strict religious discipline on the family. When Chekhov was sixteen his father’s business failed, and his family moved to Moscow to escape debtor’s prison while Anton stayed behind to finish school. Chekhov rejoined them in Moscow in 1880, supporting them by writing short sketches for popular journals. Chekhov eventually enrolled in medical school at the University of Moscow, earning his degree as Doctor of Medicine in 1884. Chekhov made the comment that while medicine was his wife, literature was his mistress. In that same year of 1884, his first two stories were published, titled Tales of Melpomene, and he was awarded the Russian Academy’s Pushkin Prize for distinguished literary achievement with his second story, In the Twilight. His only novel, The Shooting Party, was published between 1884 and 1885.
The turning point in Chekhov’s literary career was when he published a long short story titled “The Steppe” in a journal in 1888. In 1889, Chekhov traveled across Siberia where he studied life in Sakhalin, a place he stayed for two years, eventually publishing The Island of Sakhalin. In 1998, Chekhov became acquainted with a man, known as Stanislavsky, whose Moscow Art Theater would eventually produce Chekhov’s plays. He married one of the actresses who starred in many of these plays, Olga Kipper, in 1901. Chekhov started to show symptoms of tuberculosis in the late 1880s, and he spent the rest of his life in health spas, and he eventually died in Germany in 1904. Chekhov overall published approximately four-hundred and fifty narratives. “Throughout the twentieth century, Chekhov, a cultural icon in Russia, has been considered internationally to be one of the greatest and most influential of short story writers and playwrights” (Anton Chekhov).
When Dmitry Gurov is vacationing in Yalta, he overhears everyone
talking about a new arrival; the lady with the dog. One day Dmitry and this
mystery woman finally crossed each others paths, and they quickly became
acquainted with one another. Her name was Anna Sergeyvna. They met
everyday for a week, when one day Dmitry kissed her. Anna felt guilty, but
Dmitry tried to console her. They continued to meet until Anna received a
letter from her husband with reason for her to come home. It had been a
month since they parted, yet Dmitry could not stop thinking about her. He
set out to find her. When he found her she was overcome with emotions, but
told Dmitry not come to her, she will come once every two months. One day
they discussed how they could keep their love hidden. Little did they know that
was only the beginning.
Analysis of Theme
In “The Lady with the Pet Dog” we meet Dmitry Gurov, a man that does not treat women with respect. Dmitry believes that women are the inferior race because of how his wife treats him. He describes his wife as a lady with dark eyebrows, stiff posture, and imposing in his life, and now looked twice as old as he does. Dmitri is miseable with his wife, yet he stays with her in fear of what others may think of him. Part of the theme for this story is reputation. Dmitry desperately wants out, but he won’t do anything about it for the sake of his reputation. When he meets Anna, the lady with the pet dog, he thinks of her as pitiful. But the more they talk, the more he changes his thoughts on women. He starts to care for her. When Dmitry kisses Anna, she feels guilty, but not because she is deceiving her husband. She is worried about what Dmitry will think of her if she cheats on her husband. The second part of the theme is true love. These tie in together because Dmitry and Anna love each other, but they are trying to protect their reputation by keeping it a secret. “Everything that was of interest and importance to him, everything that was essential to him, everything about which he felt sincerely and did not deceive himself...was going on concealed from others; while all that was false was out in the open” (“The Lady,” 201).
Dmitry realizes he isn't the cynical man he thought he was; he wants to be loved by a beautiful woman, such as Anna. He wishes that he had not dragged Anna into such an unhappy situation. Dmitry and Anna both have to make difficult decisions. They have to decide if their love for each other is worth their reputation being dragged through the mud and revealed that they had been unfaithful to their partner. Dmitry soon realizes he doesn't like living in a lie. “Once Gurov found true love, he finds himself intolerant of the Moscow social life, a life “clipped and wingless, and absurd mess” (“The Lady," 202).
Dmitry and Anna must figure out what to do together. Neither of them is happy when apart. True love is what can keep one going for longer than they think they can, and that is what Dmitry and Anna do for each other. When they were in a dark and unhappy place, they were each other’s light at the end of the tunnel. But for a happy ending, they must first figure out which one has more value. True love? Or Reputation?
Chekhov, Anton." Lady with Lapdog." EldritchPress. 1979. Web. 4 May 2016.
"The Lady with the Dog." Short Stories for Students. Ed. Kathleen Wilson. Vol. 5. Detroit: Gale, 1999. 201-202. Print.