What is the main idea of this story, "The Lady with the Dog" by Anton Chekhov?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One of the characteristic motifs of Anton Chekov is that of Communication.  This problem with communication often exists when different social classes mix or when people misunderstand the intentions of others.  Such is the case in Chekov's story about an effete aristocrat who dallies with women, whom he terms "the lower breed," simply to amuse himself and relieve his ennui.  His conflict arises when he realizes that the unpredictable has happened in his tryst with Anna Sergeyevna:  He falls in love with her.  But, this love is doomed since he and Anna are both married.

Likewise, Anna Sergeyevna, who is unhappy and dissatisfied in her marriage, believes that she can find some joy in her relationship with Dmitri Dmitritch Gurov.  However, she misunderstands Gurov's intentions at the first; then, she is haunted by her belief that he does not respect her.  When Gurov, having realized his true feelings, seeks her in her own town, they both realize that their personal lives rest upon secrecy and their love for each other has irrevocably changed them because of their unpredictable stituation: "But how far they were still from the end!"  Certainly, with both Gurov and Anna, their memories of the past are powerful parts of any present moment, and they are, thus, tragic figures in their search for meaning since no true, lasting communication can exist between them.

As many of his stories do, Chekhov's story ends on a note of ambiguity.  For, the lovers realize that

they had still a long, long road before them, and that the most complicated and difficult par of it was only just beginning.

Anna and Dmitri must both find ways to communicate with each other while living their separate lives as well.

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