What is the author's attitude toward his main character?

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lnorton | College Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

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Among critics, there has been some disagreement in regards to Chekhov's view of his main character, Olga. It is generally agreed that Chekhov meant to, as Tolstoy wrote, to sacrifice Olga -- that is, to show a silly, vacuous character and highlight the shallow nature of her interest in her various love objects. Tolstoy, however,

made the argument that while Chekhov set out to ‘‘sacrifice’’ the character of Olga as a typically vapid woman, he inadvertently blesses her in her ultimate role as mother. Tolstoy’s view was based on his opinion that women serve no greater role in society than that of loving mother, and that women’s highest virtue is their capacity for love. (Enotes)

What Tolstoy points out is that, though Chekhov most likely meant to create a silly, vapid character, the fact that he also created her incredible ability to love makes it easy to argue to that Chekhov (even if unconsciously) gave her a "saving grace" -- that is, that he imbued her with a characteristic that we celebrate and even revere. Thus, though Chekhov at the surface painted Olga as shallow and silly, his ultimate portrayal hints at an underlying appreciation of her willingness to spread love and to care for others.

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