Anton Chekhov

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Please provide a critical analysis of the story "The Chameleon" by Anton Chekhov.

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"The Chameleon," at only four pages, is one of Chekhov's shortest short stories. Despite this, it is crammed with the psychological acuity and profound moral insight one would expect from its author. The story also represents a withering critique of the hierarchical, vertical structure of nineteenth-century Russian society.

The protagonist of "The Chameleon" is an officious police superintendent by the name of Otchumyelov. One day, as he walks across the market square with a parcel under his arm, he hears a sudden commotion. A white Borzoi puppy has bitten Hryukin, the goldsmith, on his finger. At first, Otchumyelov is very sympathetic to the unfortunate victim of the dog bite. This crime is an outrage, and a detailed report must be drawn up immediately.

However, when he discovers whose dog it is, his whole attitude suddenly changes. The dog belongs to a local worthy, General Zhigalov. When the policeman realizes this, he starts questioning the veracity of Hryukin's account of events:

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