In The Bear, a one-act farce, the exchange between the two main characters, Yelena Ivanova Popova and Gregory Stepanovich Smirnov, is extreme, as these characters both possess intense emotions and are impulse-driven. Certainly, they swiftly prejudge the other and accelerate their antipathies about the opposite sex.
Popova, who has forgiven her deceased husband his many indiscretions, now decides to dedicate herself to his memory by going into mourning. She addresses her dead husband, a philanderer who left her for weeks, in fond tones, telling him she will be "true to [him] till the grave." She refuses to listen to her servant Luka's encouragements to get out and socialize.
She is not left alone, however, as Smirnov arrives in order to collect a debt. At first he is polite:
I am Grigory Stepanovitch Smirvov, landowner and retired lieutenant of artillery! I am compelled to disturb you on a very pressing affair.
He tells her that her husband died in debt to him for "one thousand two hundred roubles, on two bills of exchange." Since he must pay the interest on a mortgage the next day, he needs the money this day. But Popova refuses, saying she cannot pay him until her steward returns the next day, and an argument ensues. Neither will concede.
Smirnov refuses to leave her house. As they argue, he accuses her of trying to use feminine wiles against him. This angers her even more, and they argue back and forth about the faults of the other gender. Finally, Smirnov says they should just have a duel. Surprisingly, Popova agrees, although she has never fired a pistol. Smirnov explains about the guns, then he shows her how they work:
You must hold the revolver like this.... [Aside] Her eyes, her eyes! What an inspiring woman!
When Popova declares that she is ready to duel, Smirnov has changed. He tells her he will only shoot into the air because he loves her. She insists that he fire his gun, but Smirnov declares,
You can't understand what happiness it would be to die before those beautiful eyes, to be shot by a revolver held in that little, velvet hand.... I'm out of my senses!
Popova wants to continue with the feud, but when he kisses her, her protests and her words of hate end abruptly. She, too, falls in love; however, she probably would not have felt any tenderness toward Smirnov if he had not displayed deep feelings toward her.