What are the techniques used in The Bear by Anton Chekhov?

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prof19010 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the major techniques used in Chekhov's The Bear is that it is a farce, meaning it is a play with comedy. It combines many different kinds of humor, which makes the play interesting.

As a play, it does have some slapstick comedy much like television shows like The Three Stooges or movies like Dumb and Dumber. Smirnov, called "The Bear" by Elena, keeps trying to sit in chairs only to have them break. He curses out the furniture, wondering what could possibly be wrong with it.

And overly dramatic servant also adds to the humor. He is told to get rid of Smirnov, but cannot because he is afraid of the angry man. Other humor includes the relationship between Smirnov and Elena. They hate each other, and yet somehow through that hate fall in love as could only happen in a comedy. He realizes it when he is thinking of shooting her. "She is a woman! That's the sort I can understand! A real woman! Not a sour-faced jellybag, but fire, gunpowder, a rocket! I'm even sorry to have to kill her!" (Chekhov).

Obviously one of the more comedic scenes is when Smirnov is insulted and challenges Elena to a duel, which she accepts. In those days, it would be unheard of for a woman to duel, let alone duel against a man. She agrees to the duel, and then says "Here are the pistols.... But before we fight you must show me how to fire. I've never held a pistol in my hands before" (Chekhov).

The fact that Smirnov is there to collect money owed for the oats he sells is also used as humorous. When Elena realizes why he wants money, she calls for the servants to give her horse extra oats, thus rubbing it in. But in the end, when they have gone from hate to love, she calls to the servant, "Luka, tell them in the stables that Toby isn't to have any oats at all to-day" (Chekhov).

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