In the short story, “The Lady With the Pet Dog,” Anton Checkov uses irony when he allows the womanizer Gurov to finally fall in love and build a relationship when he is growing old. But despite their love for one another, the relationship brings them sadness rather than joy.
Gurov spent his life going from affair to affair but never loving the women he used.
Time had passed, he had met one woman after another, become intimate with each, parted with each, but had never loved. There had been all sorts of things between them, but never love.
But then, “when he was grey-haired,” he falls in love with Anna Sergeyevna and experiences a proper loving relationship for the first time in his life.
He and Anna Sergeyevna loved one another as people who are very close and intimate, as husband and wife, as dear friends love one another. It seemed to them that fate had intended them for one another…
After waiting all these years and after all those superficial liaisons, one would expect that his real connection with Anna would be a source of pure happiness for both of them. He has found someone to love him, and she “loved him ever more fondly, worshiped him.” But they are both married to other people, so they must meet in secret. This complication makes it impossible for them to build a life together.
He rang for tea, and a little later, while he was drinking it, she was still standing there, her face to the window. She wept from emotion, from her bitter consciousness of the sadness of their life; they could only see one another in secret, hiding from people, as if they were thieves. Was not their life a broken one?
The irony is that this extramarital relationship is a tease—their happy times together make them imagine what life would be like if they could openly be a couple, but they are denied the fulfillment of their dreams.