Ivan Vassiliyitch Lomov is a prententious, proud, self-serving, argumentative, impetuous, hysterical hypochondriac. A wealthy landowner, he comes to his neighbor with the overt intentions of marriage, but he really wishes to expand his own land boundaries.
In his farce, Chekhov ridicules the Russian landowners for whom marriage was more a land deal than a love match. Having long been the neighbor of Stepan Stepanovitch Tschubukov, Lomov comes to him in formal attire and speaks with stilted language when his neighbor warmly urges him to sit down, "No, I have no engagement except with you, Stepan Stepanovitch."
After he formally asks Tschubukov for "the hand of your daughter, Natalia Stepanovna," the father is elated and exuberantly goes to call his daughter. As he waits, Tschubukov feels cold and trembles with nervousness. Talking to himself, he enumerates all the physical changes he undergoes--his ears roar as though his blood pressure is rising, he worries about his weak heart, he ponders his ailments that prevent a good night's sleep, he is already thirty-five. Then, when Natalia enters he does greet her in a friendly manner; however, he approaches his proposal of marriage impetuously as the land deal that he considers it, mentioning that his meadows reach to her birchwood trees. This mention, however, sparks a heated argument as Natalia retorts that the meadows belong to her family. Finally, Lomov insults Natalia,
My dear lady, if it weren't that I were suffering from palpitation of the heart and hammering of the arteries in my temples, I would deal with you very differently! [In a loud voice] The meadows belong to me!
Hearing the bickering, Natalia's father rushes in to ameliorate the situation, telling Lomov that the meadows are, in fact, his; however, he, too, becomes disputatious to the point that Lomov staggers out. Tschubukov finally convinces him to return, but Lomov falls into a chair and faints from renewing the argument with Natalia. Complaining of his heart and his ailing shoulder, he declares that he is dying, but somehow revives long enough to agree to the marriage.