The Proposal By Anton Chekhov

What is the theme of "The Proposal" by Anton Chekhov? 

Expert Answers

Want to remove ads?

Get ad-free questions with an eNotes 48-hour free trial.

Try It Free No Thanks
lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In The Proposal by Anton Checkov, the theme is that marriage is not as romantic as some people believe. The theme is based on two people who love each other by fighting. Lomov and Natayla act like a married couple before they become engaged. They are argumentative from the start. No doubt, the theme is that married people inevitably fight, even before they say I do. 

The author's tone is satirical as he presents characters who are destined to be married due to their argumentative personalities. Truly, the author sees married life as a continual disagreement. No doubt, the author understands what marriage can do to two people who are argumentative. 

The climax occurs when Lomov and Natalya stop arguing long enough to kiss and then return to arguing. Truly, this couple is destined to marry for they have the fighting aspect of married life down to an art. They were born for each other. Their argumentative nature is innate. They are unquestionably a couple made for each other:

Lomov ‘s intention is to propose and once Natasha knows this her intention is to be his wife, however, the behaviour of the characters contradict this and they end up in petty arguments yet again. The comedy arises from these contradictions and their irony rather than the misunderstandings of a typical vaudeville

Checkov is a master at producing a satirical comedy that is so realistic. No doubt, he has experienced the characteristics of married life. Any couple intending to marry should read The Proposal and think twice before marrying. The irony and comedy arises from the fact that this marriage will not be a happy one. But then again, how many marriages end in happily ever after? Is fighting an integral part of marriage?

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The theme of Anton Chekhov's "The Proposal" stems from the cultural practice of nineteenth-century Russia as economic stability for the gentry rested in the possession of as much land as possible since the potential for the production of agrarian products promised monetary profit.  Therefore, in this one-act farce the theme is that economic security takes precedence over romance and love.

It is certainly of interest that Lomov is thrity-five years old and his neighbor Natalia is twenty-five, well past the age of most brides at the time of the play's setting. This fact suggests that Lomov's motivation is not romantic, but practical.  Underscoring this idea is Lomov's reluctance to say anything in this romantic vein to Natalia; instead, he speaks of the meadows, suggesting that the possession of land is foremost in his mind.

LOMOV I'll try to be brief. My dear Natalia Stepanovna, as you know, for many years...I inherited the estate, always have the greatest respect for your brother and ...mother....and furthermore my meadows touch your birchwoods.

As he broaches his proposal of marriage, Lomov speaks at length of property, thus indicating that marriage is symbolic of economic considerations, reinforcing the theme of marriage as contract for economic security.  Reinforcing this theme, too, are the actions of the Tschubukovs who, although engaged in heated arguments with Lomov, scurry to bring him out of a faint to enough consciousness that he can agree to the marriage with Natalia which the father ironically proposes.