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Thematic Essay: The Lottery Ticket by Anton Chekhov Essay

Anton Chekhov was very talented in that he could convey well the emotion and the suspense with each and every situation of his stories. In Anton Chekhov’s short story, “The Lottery Ticket”, Ivan Dmitritch and his wife imagine the vast splendors that would come had they won the lottery. Shown in this condensed work, Ivan and his wife realize that they have changing attitudes toward each other and their all important family.

In the beginning, Ivan Dmitritch, with nothing to do, looks up the lottery draw in the newspaper, even though he usually does not. Then, when he finds that the series number is correct, he and his wife go into a daze of imagination of what they will do with the 75,000 rubles. Finally, Ivan looks at the number following the series, and it is wrong. He is maddened by how he lives now, as everything seems smaller and darker now that he has imagined living large.

Ivan starts to think out loud the possibilities, but his train of thought seems to be a one-way conversation. He does not share his joy and excitement with his wife, but goes off at a tangent imagining what he will do with the money. It is very important to take note of the first few lines of the short story- and remember that it is actually his wife’s ticket. “…….”I forgot to look at the newspaper today,” his wife said to him as she cleared the table. “Look and see whether the list of drawings is there.”…….”

Ivan’s wife does add to his daydream, but merely to endorse his spending choices at first. Then she realizes what is going on in Ivan’s head. The contentment they had in other’s company is turning to frustration and anger as they realize their very different attitudes. Ivan’s thoughts dwell on the ways in which the people who are supposed to matter to him might now be obstacles in his way, preventing him from getting what he wants. “……She had her own daydreams, her own plans, her own reflections; she understood perfectly well what her husband’s dreams were. She knew who would be the first to try and grab her winnings.”It’s very nice making daydreams at other people’s expense!” is what her eyes expressed. “No, don’t you dare!”…..”

His wife can see where this is all going and becomes angry too, as she watches the look on her husband’s face. He is seeing her with new eyes, as an obstacle who will stop him from taking an exotic holiday by doling out the money to him in dribs and drabs. His anger makes him see her as aging and plain. Petty, bitter and cynical, Ivan goes to the page with the final lottery number selections. He whips the page open and triumphantly tells his wife that they are one number out. The denouement of the story shows how Ivan tries to get his own back. “…… Her husband understood her look; hatred began stirring again in his breast, and in order to annoy his wife he glanced quickly, to spite her at the fourth page on the newspaper and read out triumphantly: “Series 9,499, number 46! Not 26!”……”

The short story shows largely the dynamics of that particular family, and what they learn about their true feelings and motives. However, I think that dismissal of feelings happens in all of us, and only certain situations can bring them out. Financially, the Dmitritch family are no worse than they were before, but in relationship terms they have lost a lot. The link between Ivan and his wife is broken and will never be the same, all because of one ticket. Anton Chekhov truly conveys how different people have different ideas which set them apart.


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