Anton Chekhov Questions and Answers

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What is the theme in the story of "The Lottery Ticket" by Anton Chekhov?  

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Kristin Pasculle eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The central theme in "The Lottery Ticket" is the exploration of how money affects and corrupts those who possess it. The couple in this story imagines what they would do with the money if they should win the lottery. Up until now, the couple has lived comfortably and in relative happiness; however, their thoughts about what they would do should they become rich reveals how money affects people, even if it is just the idea of money. This is shown through their sudden dissatisfaction with the home that they previously found to be comfortable once they realize that they have not won the lottery. The couple once felt contentment with their life, and now, merely the idea of an extravagant lifestyle has made them long for more.

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Valentine England eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Anton Chekhov's short story "The Lottery Ticket" follows the brief imaginings of a married couple after they discover that the wife's lottery ticket has a matching series number to the number posted in the paper. What will determine if the wife, Masha, receives the money is if the secondary number matches as well. Rather than immediately look to see if they have the entire winning number, the couple speculates about what they would do with the money. While these daydreams start out pleasantly enough, eventually both the husband and wife start to feel a rising sense of discontent, hatred, and resentment for each other. The husband privately bemoans the fact that his wife has aged and that he could have remarried someone younger, while the wife considers how her husband will likely try to appropriate all of the winnings for himself.

Ultimately, this story deals with the theme of greed and how the desire for material possessions is ultimately what poisons us. From Chekhov's point of view, wealth is the seed of dissatisfaction, and it eventually leads to the unraveling of our gratitude for what we already possess. 

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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To me, the theme of this story is that it is best for people to be content with what they have and not to start dreaming of things that (they think) will be much better than what they have.

The couple in this story were relatively happy with one another.  But then they thought they had won the lottery.  Once they thought this, the husband especially began to have big dreams.  He became dissatisfied with what a moment before had been an acceptable life.

Another way you could look at it is to say that the theme is that you should not let a change in your wealth (or other circumstances) change who you are as a person.


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karimjessa | Student

I'd say the theme of "The Lottery" by Anton Chekhov is that your outlook on life in general, and on your situation in particular, is based on the possibilities open to you. Those possibilities, of course, are based on your employment, your financial situation, etc. Once you've adjusted yourself to your particular niche in life, you find your happiness and contentment in that situation. But if a different, perhaps better, possibility opens up, or there's even a hint that such a possibility may come open, you begin thinking of newer things that might now be available to you. The problem is, if the possibility does not materialize, you are left with a bitter taste in your mouth.

Full elaboration in my article at link provided.