The Lady with the Pet Dog

by Joyce Carol Oates

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What details in "The Lady with the Pet Dog" make the narration particulary convincing from a woman's perspective?

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One of the things that I really appreciate about this story is the way that it both modernises Chekhov's classic but also re-tells it from the woman's perspective, giving a uniquely female point of view to the theme of adultery and love and the tangle of relationships that is involved in the affair. To me, one of the most convincing parts of this story was Anna's feelings after having committed adultery and how she felt a strange mixture of emotions, dominated by shame. Note what Anna is said to feel after their first tryst:

A sense of shame overpowered her: it was smeared everywhere on her body, the smell of it, the richness of it. She tried to reall him, and his face was confused in her memory: she would have to shout to him across a jumbled space, she would have to wave her arms wildly. You love me! You must love me! But she knew he did not love her, and she did not love him; he was a man who drew everything up into himself, like all men, walking away, free to walk away, free to have his own thoughts, free to envision her body, all the secrets of her body...

This to me offers a distinctly female point of view on the adulterous relationship that Anna has, combining the sense of shame with also a kind of exultation. Note how the sense of shame is given a "richness" that suggests that Anna does not entirely view this affair as a negative thing. Also, we see Anna's desperation and her assumption that her lover does not love her in return but is free to fantasise about her.

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