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Questions of authorial intent usually revert to biographical comparisons, so in this instance (and in Uncle Vanya) we are tempted to find some kind of parallel to Chekhov's personal family. This approach, however, does not bear fruit here, because Chekhov is interested in another topic (here and in his other four plays). He is dramatizing the social changes occurring around him, from the rise of the peasant class to the breakdown of the "old" order, here represented by the three sisters' father's death, which has stranded them not only in a rural town far from Moscow, but in a society no longer respectful of their status as the daughters of a General. By dramatizing three kinds of adjustment, represented by the differing occupations and marital statuses of the sisters, and emphasized by the behaviors of the guests/hangers-on, Chekhov explores the variety and paucity of new directions for Russia's middle class. So this play is part of Chekhov's life-long exploration of Russia's future.
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