Describe the characters in The Proposal by Anton Chekhov
The Marriage Proposal by Anton Chekhov is a farce aimed at the Russian aristocrats' pride in and ownership of property as the overriding measure against love and romance in the consideration of marriage. In farces, the characters are stereotypes who are caught in exaggerated situations that often become ludicrous.
- Stephan Stephanovitch Tschubukov is an impetuous and hypocritical man
Tschubukov is an impetuous and hypocritical man. When Lomov first comes to visit, Tschubuhov greets him exuberantly, shaking his hand and saying, "My dear fellow....I'm so glad to see you!" But, when his neighbor Lomov says that he needs assistance, Tschubukov grumbles in an aside, "He's come to borrow money! I won't give him any!" Then he turns to his neighbor and congenially asks, "What is it, then, dear Lomov?"
When Lomov finally gets around to asking for the hand of his daughter, Tschubkov again gushes with sentimentality, even suppressing a tear, and declares to his neighbor that he has always loved him. He then rushes out to summon his daughter, whom he tells Lomov is "lovesick." However, when Natalia enters and greets her neighbor, she says, "Papa said to go in: there was a dealer in there who'd come to buy something," a statement which ironically turns out to be true but which is also indicative of the father's real opinion of Lomov.
Later, when it seems that his daughter will not marry Lomov and will not acquire the adjacent property, because he never told Natalia that Lomov had come to propose and she had dismissed him after an argument, Tschubkov becomes hysterical, shouting, "I'll cut my throat! I'll cut my throat!"
- Natalia is also rather hypocritical, and she is obstinate and argumentative
When Natalia first enters the room, she greets Lomov with warmth and is very gracious as she permits him to smoke and compliments him upon his appearance. However, when Lomov speaks of "my meadows," she abruptly interrupts and contradicts him. An argument then ensues over who owns what acreage. Even when Lomov offers them to her as a gift, she continues to insist upon her ownership of them in the first place, reigniting the argument until Lomove leaves.
When her father finally reveals to Natalia that Lomov has actually come to propose marriage, she is infuriated, blaming her father for causing the neighbor to depart. They both demonstrate hysterics, but her father manages to bring Lomov back. Nevertheless, Natalia, having brought the overwrought Lomov into quieted consciousness enough for him to understand her show of affection, once again reignites the hostilities by arguing about their hunting dogs.
- Ivan Vassiliyitch Lomov is an overwrought hypochondriac, who is pretentious, proud, self-serving, argumentative, and impetuous
When Lomov finally decides to marry Natalia, whom he has known for years, Lomov comes dressed in formal attire. Even though he wishes to marry Natalia, and would, therefore, acquire her property, he is so hot-headed that when she declares the meadows hers, Lomov immediately contradicts her. Then, as they argue and he perceives that Natalia will not relent, he screams and falls back, complaining of heart palpitations and hammering in his arteries. Tschubukov enters and continues the arguments and insults to Lomov's family, and Lomov screams, "Oh, my side pains! My temples are bursting! Water!" and he staggers out.
After Natalia orders her father to retrieve him, Tschubukov finally decides to stop the argument over the hunting dogs, but Lomov cannot bring himself to propose. Instead, he simply acquiesces to the situation, "Oh, yes, I understand!--My heart--sparks--I am happy...My leg is lame!"
Ridiculous characters whose disputatious natures prohibit them from using common sense, all three demonstrate that their pride and possessiveness of property works to the detriment of any warmth and affection that they may have for each other.