Anton Chekhov

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What is being satirized in Chekhov's story "The Lottery Ticket"?  

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In "The Lottery Ticket," Chekhov satirizes, among other human foibles, our tendency to project onto others the flaws and negative qualities we are loath to recognize in ourselves.

The fact that the ticket was purchased by Masha, not Ivan, is ironic in that the story is told from a third person limited point of view, namely, Ivan's.  Readers are not privy to Masha's fantasies about what the 75,000 prize could mean to her.  Instead of thinking about the joy and opportunity the money could bring to the marriage, Ivan's reverie takes a dark turn.  Seemingly for the first time he sees Masha as "elderly and plain" and imagines that she would be stingy and unsatisfied with "his" money. If Masha has grown elderly, then he has also, yet he believes he would have access to "light, careless women who live in the present." 

Another irony is that Ivan and Masha are already comfortably middle class, and the post-winning state of being he dreams of, namely, being "well-fed, serene, healthy...warm," is already comfortably within his reach.  He dreams of his children bringing him a garden carrot and radish while he has a vodka, pleasures already within his grasp.  These details support the idea that the stinginess that Ivan projects onto Masha is really his own problem. 

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In his short story "The Lottery Ticket," Anton Chekhov satirizes people's inability to maintain their contentment or to generate their own happiness.

With irony, Chekhov begins his story by describing Ivan Dmitritch as being "very well satisfied with his lot." When his wife asks him to check the newspaper for the winning number in the lottery, and he sees that the number matches hers, they hesitate to look for the last two numbers. Instead, they choose to fantasize about what they would do if the money were to become theirs.

To torment and tantalize oneself with hopes of possible fortune is so sweet, so thrilling!

As Dmitritch imagines leisurely long walks, warm baths, visits with neighbors, glasses of vodka, and buying property, he becomes less satisfied and more discontented and even distrustful of what his wife will want to do with their fortune if they do win the lottery. However, she, too, has her own daydreams as she understands what her husband's dreams are. "She knew who would be the first to try to grab her winnings." 

As Dmitritch senses his wife's motives and reflections, he spitefully looks at the last two numbers, and discovers that they do not match. He calls them out, ending their dreams. "Hatred and hope both disappeared at once." Now, instead of hope, they each experience despair, for their fantasies of winning the lottery have caused them to yearn for more and create their own discontentment. Chekhov satirizes the human weakness of being inclined to unhappiness.

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