What is The Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov about, and what is a brief summary?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The play The Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov is about the seeming meaninglessness of life's events and about the decay of Russia's privileged upper class. First performed in 1901, it followed forty-years after the emancipation (1861) of Russian serfs (peasants tied to the land of the master's estate and owned as partial "souls" (people) by the master) and preceded World War I (1914-1918) by thirteen years. The vision of meaninglessness and the quest for understanding seems to have begun early in Chekhov's Russia.

The Three Sisters is about three sisters who live in a provincial (country) town without much to recommend it and who desire above all else to leave and return to their early lives, which were lived in Moscow, a much more interesting place. The three sisters are pursued by suitors none of whom really suit them except for the one or two who are already married, but their brother Andrei finds a wife in Natasha whom he marries.

The interior acts progress though domestic difficulties and romantic affairs between unmarried sisters and married men, as well as married wives with married men, until the final acts in which the sister Irina finally marries a suitor she doesn't love, with plans to fulfill Irina's dream of a move to Moscow, only to have him killed in a dual by an angry rejected suitor. The play ends with the sisters in tears wondering what the meaning of life's events is all about.

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The Three Sisters

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