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Discuss the representation of society in The lady with the dog , showing how it relates to the theme Anton Chekhov s The Lady with the dog is a story of a bored, married banker from Moscow, Dmitri Dmitritch Gurov, who meets a young married woman, Anna Sergeyevna, while on vacation in Yalta at the beginning of the century. They drift into an affair that turns into true love, yet the conventions of society and the couple s need to feel respectable force them to return to their old lives.
Over the years they meet, but they cannot find the strength to break with their past. In this story the theme of the effect of society on personal freedom can be examined with reference to Gurov, Anna and their situation.
Gurov s life is unhappy. His marriage does not fulfil his expectations and that is why he does not respect his wife. He finds in her many disadvantages and he does not appreciate her as a person (he secretly considered her unintelligent, narrow, inelegant.
P.123). Due to these thoughts he has began being unfaithful to her. His looking for sexual experiences is also apparent from the thoughts he makes when he sees Anna for the first time ( If she is here alone without a husband or friends, it wouldn t be a miss to make her acquaintance, Gurov reflected p. 123). Because of the fact that he had sexual experiences with many women and also because he did not respect his wife, every woman he has something negative to say (he spoke ill for women and used to call them the lower race P.
123). Because of the fact that neither in his wife nor in any other woman he has found what he really wanted, he underestimated women and thought he was superior. Although Gurov has many times slept with other women, he does not divorce his wife and the only reason for that is society. Everyone would accuse him for leaving his wife with his three children. Everyone would say that what he did an immoral and unethical action.
Anna is not satisfied from her marriage (The solitary candle burning on the table threw a faint light on her face, yet it was clear that she was very unhappy p.126), she cares for her husband, but she does not love him (my husband may be a good, honest man, but he is a flunkey! p.126). She married him because she wanted to escape from her family and not because she loved him. The interference of society is apparent here. Anna thought that by getting married she would actually live (I wanted something better. There must be a different sort of life, I said to myself. I wanted to live! p.126).
When Anna goes to the hotel with Gurov, it is the first time during her marriage that she stays in a room, alone with another man ( You will be the first to despise me now, she said) and because of the fact that she is a very decent woman (I love a pure, honest life, and sin is loathsome to me. P.126), she feels really bad (Her face dropped and faded, and on both sides of it, her long hair hung down mournfully; she mused in a dejected attitude like the woman who was a sinner in an old fashioned picture p126). For Gurov, on the other hand, it is the first time he has so strange and unique feelings for a woman. He feels that Anna is not like all the other women he had met ( But in this case there was still the difference, the angularity of inexperienced youth, an awkward feeling p.126). Gurov and Anna have a passionate relationship and many times the idea of leaving their families and living together crosses their minds, but they both live in a society where marriage is sacred. Society has a negative effect on their personal freedom and does not let them live happily. The irony is that when Gurov and Anna did the right thing, got married and built families, they had an unhappy life and now that they want to do a socially unacceptable action, to leave their families and live together, they are happier and more satisfied than ever.
Through this story we understand how society was at the time Gurov and Anna lived and at what extend the moral rules were oppressing each individual s personal freedom. In that short story Chekhov tries to show that for some things, which are very important for us, and from which our happiness is depended, it is better to ignore society s moral rules.
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