I need a critical analysis of Anton Chekov's "The Proposal."

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Anton Chekov's humorous one-act play, entitled "The Proposal" is about Chubukov (a landowner). His neighbor Lomov (another land owner) comes by to ask Chubukov for his daughter's hand in marriage. Though Chubukov implies that his neighbor probably wants to borrow money which, in an aside, he refuses to do, he is surprised to learn that Lomov wants to marry Natalya. The outward relationship between the two men seems generally positive as they are both exceedingly affable with one another. When Chubukov goes to get his daughter, we discover that Lomov has a terrible heart condition. His says to himself:

I ought to lead a quiet and regular life. ... I suffer from palpitations, I'm excitable and always getting awfully upset. ... At this very moment my lips are trembling, and there's a twitch in my right eyebrow. ... But the very worst of all is the way I sleep. I no sooner get into bed and begin to go off when suddenly something in my left side gives a pull, and I can feel it in my shoulder and head...

Soon Natalya enters alone, however her father has not told her the intent of Lomov's visit. The two begin to speak and get into a raging argument about who owns "Oxen Meadows." Both believe it belongs to their own family. As the argument progresses, their yelling draws the attention of Chubukov. All the while, Lomov seems to be suffering from a heart-attack. Chubukov becomes involved in the fight, agreeing with his daughter, and Lomov decides to leave, in extremely poor physical condition.

After their neighbor departs, father and daughter speak, and Chubukov comments on how such a fuss came to pass when Lomov initially came to propose. Hearing this, Natalya gets hysterical and calls Lomov back. He returns and Natalya (alone with Lomov) tries to begin a conversation to lead back to the proposal. Again the two end up arguing about whose dog is the better. The argument becomes a screaming match again, and Chubukov enters to find out what is wrong. As before, now father and daughter are fighting with Lomov. Lomov becomes more ill and eventually faints on the couch. Chubukov and Natalya believe he is dead, and Natalya becomes hysterical once more. As Lomov stirs, Chubukov encourages them to agree to the marriage quickly.


Hurry up and get married and--well, to the devil with you! She's willing! [He puts LOMOV'S hand into his daughter's] She's willing and all that. I give you my blessing and so on. Only leave me in peace!...

She's willing! Well? Kiss and be damned to you!

Lomov is confused as he regains consciousness:

Eh? Kiss whom? [They kiss] Very nice, too. Excuse me, what's it all about? Oh, now I understand ... my heart ... stars ... I'm happy. Natalya Stepanovna. ... [Kisses her hand]

Even as the two agree to marry, they start to fight again about the dog. All Chubukov can do is offer commentary on the kind of marriage they seem to be headed for, and give them a drink, as the audience assumes that this will be the way the newlyweds will act with each other for the remainder of their lives.

CHUBUKOV: Well, that's a way to start your family bliss! Have some champagne!


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