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Anton Chekhov's short stories

This is a paper about Anton Chekhov’s short stories, 3 stories have been chosen randomly from each period (1882-1885) (1886) (1887) (1888- 1895) (1896-1904) and handled from a personal point view.     1882-1885 [The Cook’s Wedding- in a Strange Land- a Dead Body]   Chekhov’s “A Dead Body” resembles many of his short stories, which end in what seems to be an open-end. “A Dead Body”, and others, is the author copying a certain combination created in his mind, the end is the end of the thread of this combination, not a chronological end or a solution, it is simply what the author thinks it should end. Like in “a dead body”, the simpleton stays as he was through the story, “gently dozes” as to sweep away the fear. The dead body, though it is not possible it could change, gets more horrifying as the other two take leave. First, the young man is told that the cowardice of his companion is seen also in the good pilgrim, but however it is forgiven in the pilgrim and censored in the simpleton. Second, there is a speech by the young man directed to humanity, including himself, that he could change himself with design and hard work. Chekhov had had some traits that he worked on to change some and maintain others, and believed very much that we can change to the better.Fear might be the reason for the goat-bearded man that he appeared a simpleton in the eyes of others, the same reason which changed the pilgrim from a man with courage and ready to face danger to as coward as ever. Chekhov’s main character is the dead body, which affected the three other characters, all by fear, especially, fear of death.      “The Cook’s Wedding” is advocating the rights of the working class, and women as considered yet a lower class, and may be predicting a new generation in Russia that would be more sensible, represented in the young boy, who, however, is raised to savor food (he’s fat and consoled the cook with an apple). The story is simple and the idea is given out quickly and wholly.     “Strange Land” is a typical Chekhovian story. Vulgarity and frankness and yet good-intentions of the Russian community is represented in the Russian man in the story. The contrast between the delicate European community and the enduring, stout Russian people is sharply set. “A Russian man better stays in Russia”. Everything related to Russia is big, coarse, chaotic and noisy yet sincere, the European world, on the other hand, delicate, elegant, weak but stylish and capturing.The story doesn’t have political themes, as it might appear, and the aim is achieved through the simple characters simply and openly.        1886 [The Court- Difficult people- A Peculiar Man]    “Difficult People” is crammed up with a group of ‘difficult people’ who may not possibly assemble in one family at a time. The air of the story is very heavy and tensioned. Chekhov tells us that bad qualities are handed over from father to son if one is not careful, and this scene might again be repeated some years later when the son marries, so the misery continues, unless education and self-discipline encourages the son to work on himself until he tames his inherited temper.Again, Chekhov ends the situation but does not present a solution, as he sees and foresees, people seldom change. Even the wife, as he explains, is never adapted to her husband’s ill temper after all these years, producing children who, from the picturesque of the story, seem to be transparent and callous, they only watch, and are always at the back scene, dominated over by a noisy, dull father.Chekhov is always satirical against the chapel, the church. People belonging to the church are dull “difficult” people, and those surrounding them are always suffering lack of emotion, because the wrong understanding of religion leads to a very dull life.    “The Court” has a message instantly conveyed. The court is a dull place, and everyone who enters it is infected with this dullness and boredom. Even the building is disturbing the harmony of the country. The reader of the story is infected, too, with the air of the court, and as if the reader is confined in its walls, he has no option but to continue reading, till the very end, where a sense of trouble fills the minds of everyone present, including the reader, and the confusion lingers no more than a minute, where one is forced to leave the court (the story) with no more than sympathy for the prisoner who has to face his fate because people are too afraid to believe in uncommonness, they are too afraid to be troubled.    “A Peculiar Man” is a story which emphasizes the reality of perfection. It is not what we do that makes us perfect, but why we do it and how we feel and how we make others feel. This man is not a bad man, he’s peculiar. He does things provokingly right, what he says is right, but it has a suffocating, cold, pretentious nature. It does not spring from his heart, but from within the pages of some book about decorum.This man has no sense for people and does not regard time. He might have gone to the midwife at late night not driven by compassion for his wife, but by obligation to his perfectionism. He addressed his son by what is beyond his age, at an unsuitable time- his wife is in child-labour.Chekhov warns against being led to such a degree of unawareness, Chekhov, who cherished spontaneity and was known to help his speaker –however pretentious they were- to release their real selves. The story ends smoothly, and like most of his stories, if not all, nothing changes and people stay what they are.        1887 [Typhus- In Passion’s Week- A Mystery]    “Typhus” is an extraordinary story that no one but a doctor with a gift of a great capacity to describe in such an exact manner could write. The reader feels the character and one might get some of the lethargy in the story. Everything during the fever and the peak of the Typhus is vertigo. Uneasiness is a common feeling during reading this story. The childish joy of convalescence is written in chosen words to describe the light-heartedness of the lieutenant who is ready to rejoice over anything.Chekhov didn’t want to leave the story only as an experience of a man who was infected by spotted typhus –and here we notice how Chekhov ignored completely any other point of view except the patient’s, all along the story we are the sick lieutenant- so he added a wee bit  of misery. His beloved sister died because of him, and we leave him so miserable.      “In Passion’s Week” is a light story about a boy’s vision of the Christian rituals, the confession, the priests, the meaning of sinful acts, good and evil and so on. What is intended of mentioning this story for Chekhov is the narrator’s point of view. Chekhov has many several stories speaking from the perspective of a child [Vanka- Grisha- In Passion’s Week- ..] “Grisha” is the world from the point of view of a little boy two years and a half old. It is fantastic how he is capable of predicting how the world is viewed by children. He is also justifying some of their behaviors and scolding adults for punishing them without minding how they think. The stories are interesting and lovable.    ”A Mystery”, another story showing the obstinate, fearful nature of the human mind- especially Russians in this case-, the story of this man who refused completely to accept, or even take into consideration, the superstitions of his wife, but when venturing in a moment of despair and curiousity to solve the mystery of the name, to try out, he was completely swallowed, that –at the end of the story- he refuses to use the logical mind he used to have which examined objects of life using facts, and in fear that all that he now believed in and was dedicated to was built on a mistake, and that it was all wrong, he shuts his eyes to crystal-clear reality. “Leave me alone! What do you want from me?”The fact Fedykruv is a living man that was to be welcomed before, is now completely rejected to the belief in spirits and supernatural phenomena.         1888-1895 [In exile- Ward no. 6- The Steppe]   In this period Chekhov is more melancholy and contemplating. He uses more language in descriptions full of metaphors and similes. He manages to separate between play writing and short stories writing, in a sense, he abandons the description based on an audience eye in theatre, and spares more words describing feelings, nature impact, and the like, which cannot be known unless described. Whether it was maturing or some misfortune, it is not known, but evidently Chekhov gradually loses his sharp sarcasm and sense of humour in favor of miseries and sorrows and philosophical visions. The stories lengthen and the suddenness of effect is less noticed, instead, the feeling and the air of the story creeps slowly to take over the heart and soul.     “In The Exile” is written in 1892, after Chekhov’s journey to Sakhalin, the exile in Siberia. It’s a case that captivated the mind of Chekhov, how inhumanely the prisoners live there, how women are forced to be prostitutes. “In Exile” show how hardships and animal-like lives in a place like Siberia –in which nature is sufficient to create enough hardships- might kill away the feelings and human touch in people’s hearts, like the indifferent Canny in the story. It is frightful, we can see this in the horror of the Tatar, in his dark future in the exile, he’s young, and is worried to death about his youth. Everything is offensive and repulsing, people (the man with a sick daughter, for example) are shown as if to be out of their minds, gone insane by the unbearable life and misfortunes.   “The Steppe”. Obviously the story is given from the perspective of the young boy, Yegorushky, which represents two features of Chekhov. The first, as mentioned before, is that his love and talent to represent the world in the eyes of a child is impalpable. The second is the tendency he had to write stories from one perspective, which is of one of the characters, who we see the world through his eyes. “The Steppe” is like Sinbad in some way. The young boy travels and meets different people and encounters the wonders of the steppes. It is a unique story for Chekhov, who, it seems, has been affected much by: first, a journey through the steppes he had before writing the story, second, an interest in geography, maybe derived from his study of Sakhalin, the horrible exile in Siberia. The story is a wonderfully-written journey tale.     “Ward no. 6”. This masterpiece is thought-evoking and mind-working, and reveals the great thinker in Chekhov. In this story, Chekhov is a doctor who has something to say about the condition of medical care in Russia, he is a philosopher who creates –using his knowledge and his personal thoughts- theories and ideas about Suffering- Pain- Pleasure- Tomorrow- Life & Death, he is also a socialist who criticizes and muses over social situations and conditions. The famous satire of a wise lunatic is handed uniquely with a Chekhovian unmistakable style. One of Chekhov’s best stories is packed up with deep meanings that it is very welcomed to be read several times to discover more or to comprehend a wise saying said by the doctor or the ward no. 6 resident Ivan Dmitrich. One cannot help hating members of the Zemestvo and the hateful and disordered personality of the guard, and also pity the Jew.                                                                                                                  1896-1904 [About Love- An Artist’s Story “The House With A Mansard”- The Lady With A Dog]   Anton P. Chekhov first met Olga Knipper, the actress, in 1898, he married her in 1901, and he died in 1904.The stories have a more axial feminine character, and introduce love and love experiences as a strong and even dominating main theme. Chekhov had been writing for years, rarely, and less explicitly, did he mention love, Olga, it seems, was his first real love, and had a great impact on him and his writings, yet their love story is unique as not to make it a regular, typical experience. It was a rich source that gave his stories a new taste and new plots and themes.    “About Love” is not about love in the common way this topic is handled, and is not only about love, this Dmitri is leading a miserable life doing totally opposite to what he is fit for and what he desires, he feels himself disintegrating, a prevailing paradox nowadays, trying to satisfy others but remain unsatisfied. The picture of this man, who is attracted to a woman who is married to a man who is a loyal friend of the former, is set so inert as to wish this network to persist, and it does for years, but then they part. Chekhov writes about a man who thinks he is in love but thinks this love is not his right. He is so afraid to change anything, he loves her the way she is, where she is, and what she is, a wife of this man in her house with her children.      “An Artist’s Story” is a story filled up with philosophy, Chekhov has matured so much that he writes like a man in his seventies, not thirties. The Poor and the Rich who think they help the poor but are making them more miserable. He assumes the real chain of Poverty and Death. The artist is in love with the younger sister, and again, they part. He feels himself unsuitable for her, but he cannot stop himself from loving her, and he feels how strong the bond of love is, which is felt over distances.  Each story handling Love in this period by Chekhov, love creeps slowly into the scene, the hero is in love before he knows, the situation is always difficult, the personalities are not matching, and there is always the distance separating the lovers. Reading the biography of Anton Chekhov will lead to a better understanding.     “The Lady With A Dog” is characterized more than anything with the open-ending, some, if not all, of Chekhov’s stories do not end with a solution, may be signifying the persistence of Life and the fear of Man of changing. But “The Lady With A Dog” ends with a question, with a riddle, the story is far from ending at the last word, but the reader should abandon the papers and muse over the situation and find a suitable solution.  Maybe Chekhov himself cannot find an answer. Their love is wrongful but yet it is the first of its kind for both of them, the womanizer who thought it would just pass, and the lady who is naïve and inexperienced and lives a dull life, but they both discover that they need this love very much and cannot leave each other. The man has only to think that this is how it should last, and that every man has a secret life like him, everyone must be faking, and he believes all this life is full of falsehood. Again, love is not soothing but bitter and troubling.       Chekhov, by now, has developed a new sense in his stories, the sense of a man who is near Death, and the ghost of Death has made him see the real face of life. He writes like a man who lost his desire in life, but this very life is where his love, Olga, exists. He is a dying man, and he feels guilty for loving her. The stories are philosophical, less joyful, less shocking, less theatrical, advancing smoothly, melancholy, but deep and touching, setting more questions around Life, questions that are hard to answer.