The Lady with the Pet Dog

by Joyce Carol Oates

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How does Anna differ in Oates' versus Chekov's "The Lady with the Dog"?

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Joyce Carol Oates' Anna in "The Lady with the Pet Dog" corresponds in many ways to Anton Chekhov's Anna in "The Lady with the Dog," but just like Oates added a word to the title, she added a thing or two to Anna's character traits. First both Anna's are away from their husbands for awhile because both are disappointed with their marriages. Chekhov's Anna (C-Anna) goes to a public recreation place for a vacation whereas Oates' Anna (O-Anna) goes to a secluded family beach house.

This not only reflects cultural differences between countries and time periods, it also lends a different psychology to the Annas. C-Anna is still a public wife and searching for a public way to incorporate her role of wife with her private inner self; it is inevitable that any introductions or acquaintanceships will begin with her identity as a wife. Whereas, O-Anna seeks a private retreat that shows her concern is adjusting to her private agony stemming from an unhappy marriage and founded on private inner self-doubt and insecurity. On the other hand, C-Anna only feels self-doubt and insecurity after she has succumbed to the affair and has disappointed herself morally.

O-Anna becomes suicidal during the loss of and even the resumption of the affair because of her private inner feelings underpinning her marital unhappiness. C-Anna gives into despair because she has failed morally as well as having sorrow at her separation from Gurov on top of her public sorrow at a badly chosen marriage. In other words, the psychological make up of the two women is different: O-Anna's psychological reality has roots in personal inadequacy, whereas C-Anna's has roots in failing herself morally.

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