In "The Proposal" by Anton Chekhov, what is the incongruity in this play?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Anton Chekhov's one-act play is a farce which depicts an absurd situation stemming from Stepan Stepanovitch Tschubukov's failure to inform his daughter of the purpose of Ivan Vassiliyitch Lomov's visit. Instead of telling his daughter, in a case of dramatic irony, he informs her that a "dealer has come to buy something."  

As soon as Natalia begins to converse with Lomov, who introduces his proposal by mentioning that his meadow s touch their birchwoods, suggesting that their union would be a profitable merger as in Russia marriage was a means towards economic stability. However, Natalia contradicts him, contending that the meadows belong to her and her father, giving rise to a heated argument between herself and Lomov until Lomov staggers out. The father enters,

TSCHUBUKOV   What's going on here? What is he yelling about?

NATALIA           Papa, please tell this gentleman to whom the meadows belong, to us or to him?

TSCHUBUKOV My dear fellow, the meadows are ours.

Then, a heated argument begins between the men until Lomov staggers out. Natalia and he shout at him as he leaves. Finally the father reveals that Lomov has come to propose marriage, and the daughter, who is past the age of most women who marry, begs her father to bring the neighbor back, blaming him for having angered the suitor.

The incongruity, or irregularity of characterization occurs after Lomov is brought back, but Natalia cannot resist reopening the argument although she has scolded her father and wishes to marry Lomov.

However, the greatest incongruity, or lack of harmony, occurs after Lomov appears to have expired, but returns to consciousness; for, Natalia declares that she wants to marry Lomov even though she immediately resumes arguing after her acceptance of the marriage proposal. It is this incongruity that most contributes to Chekhov's ridiculing of the Russian landowners who pursue economic stability over love. Indeed, "a dealer has come to buy something": the neighboring estate.