Story Analysis of ‘The Lady With A Dog’ by Anton Chekhov

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It’s Day 23 of the #A2ZChallenge. This year, I invite you to read and discuss short stories with me. Each day, I bring you a ‘Read of the Day,’ a short story in English, so that we can indulge in the joy of reading. You can visit my site daily for a short story with analysis and participate in the discussion in the comments.

Read of the Day 

Today, we will read The Lady With The Dog by Anton Chekhov. You can read the short story online here.

About the Author 

Anton Chekhov was a Russian playwright, short-story writer, and physician. Considered by some to be the founder and master of the short story form, Chekhov first started writing short stories to earn money. Gradually, he improved upon the form, and his short stories and plays are known to have a simple plot with no resolution. Chekhov opined that life has no easy solutions, and as an artist, it was his job to ask questions and not offer answers in his stories.

Chekhov is a literary master in the Realism genre, and he liked to probe what lay underneath the obvious.  By the age of twenty-six, he had over four hundred short stories, vignettes, and sketches to his credit. Some of his popular work includes Seagull, Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters, The Cherry Orchard, Vanka, The Steppe, Sleepy, Ward No. 6, The Darling and Gusev, The Hunstman, The Lady with A Dog, The Student, A Dreary Story or A Boring Story, and The Little Trilogy.

Along with Henrik Ibsen and August Strindberg, he is one of the three seminal figures in the birth of early modernism in the theatre. Chekhov’s influence can be seen in a diverse group of writers from William Somerset Maugham to Flannery O’Connor to Raymond Carver to Tennessee Williams and John Cheever. 

Story Analysis 

The Lady With The Dog by Anton Chekhov is a story about a clandestine love relationship between Dimitri Gurov and Anna Sergeyevna, who are unhappy with their marriage partners. 

The author doesn’t give us too many details about their respective marriages to form any opinion. All we know is the dissatisfaction that Gurov and Anna feel towards their spouses. Gurov is a wanderer and has been cheating on his wife for years without anyone’s knowledge. Anna is a twenty-year-old woman who is much younger than Gurov and his previous pursuits. 

We see Gurov’s condemnation for the female gender he calls the ‘lower race’, and yet he cannot live without them. Anna, who looks like a naive and easy conquest at the start, proves to be the opposite when she has much- older Gurov fall madly in love with her. 

Gurov shows no remorse about his string of extra-marital affairs, and in fact, feels he’s entitled to it. The only time he shows some doubt is towards the end of the story when he sees his grey hair in the mirror and looks at a much younger Anna who loves him. 

His hair was already beginning to turn grey. And it seemed strange to him that he had grown so much older, so much plainer during the last few years. The shoulders on which his hands rested were warm and quivering. He felt compassion for this life, still so warm and lovely, but probably already not far from beginning to fade and wither like his own. Why did she love him so much?

The Lady With The Dog by Anton Chekhov is an unconventional romantic story that explores the themes of love, purity, passion, and taboo in relationships. Gurov and Anna’s love story is messy, complicated, beautiful, and defies all logic. Chekhov doesn’t attach any moral attributes or judgement to their extra-marital affair and chronicles the gamut of emotions that a couple who finds love in such an affair goes through.

Anna Sergeyevna and he loved each other like people very close and akin, like husband and wife, like tender friends; it seemed to them that fate itself had meant them for one another, and they could not understand why he had a wife and she a husband; and it was as though they were a pair of birds of passage, caught and forced to live in different cages. They forgave each other for what they were ashamed of in their past, they forgave everything in the present, and felt that this love of theirs had changed them both.

What are your thoughts on The Lady With The Dog by Anton Chekhov? 

* I’m participating in the #BlogchatterA2Z Challenge.

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