In The Bear, discuss the believable aspects of human nature that exist in the midst of the play's farcical elements.

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Anton Chekhov ’s story succeeds in holding the reader’s attention in part because the two main characters, Popova and Smirnov, have many believable qualities. In addition, the author skillfully employs the minor character Luka, showing how his affectionate, protective attitude toward his employer brings out the worst in the bear-like...

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Anton Chekhov’s story succeeds in holding the reader’s attention in part because the two main characters, Popova and Smirnov, have many believable qualities. In addition, the author skillfully employs the minor character Luka, showing how his affectionate, protective attitude toward his employer brings out the worst in the bear-like Smirnov.

The initial hostility between the widow and her visitor is replaced by affection in part because each of them recognizes in the other some of their own characteristics. Chekhov also conveys the singularity of Popova, which impresses Smirnov because he has not met such a spirited woman. While the audience’s sympathy is initially with Popova, the grieving widow, Chekhov also suggests that her stance is exaggerated and—through Luka—encourages the audience to question her motives. Smirnov comes across as insensitive, even obnoxious, as he mocks her grief; however, his condescending attitude toward women and belief that they are romantic, impractical beings seems consistent with the patriarchal society of Chekhov’s time. While the idea of a duel between them is far-fetched, Chekhov uses it effectively to show how far Popova is willing to go to prove that she is not a weak, frivolous creature. Without previously having known it, both characters had been waiting to meet someone who was not confined by the rigid gendered expectations of their day.

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