What type of comedy is Anton Chekhov's The Bear considered to be?

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As it states in its title, Anton Chekov's The Bear is a "Farce in One-Act." Critics tend to view farces as comedy for the masses and generally inferior to other comedy genres, such as satire and black comedy. Hence, The Bear is one of Chekov's lesser-known works.

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As it states in its title, Anton Chekov's The Bear is a "Farce in One-Act." Critics tend to view farces as comedy for the masses and generally inferior to other comedy genres, such as satire and black comedy. Hence, The Bear is one of Chekov's lesser-known works.

So what exactly is a farce? A farce is described in the Encyclopaedia Britannica as "a comic dramatic piece that uses highly improbable situations, stereotyped characters, extravagant exaggeration, and violent horseplay."

The play's extravagant exaggeration is apparent from the beginning, when one of the three characters, Elena Ivanovna Popova, is mourning the death of her husband. She states,

I shall never go out. . . . Why should I? My life is already at an end. He is in his grave, and I have buried myself between four walls. . . . We are both dead.

She continues to vow to never stop mourning and to never admit another person into her house, until her servant Luka enters to tell her someone is here to see her. She replies,

Very well, ask him in . . . What manners!

This high comedic drama and fast pace continues when the visitor, the landowner Gregorii Stepanovich Smirnov, demands that Popova pay him the money that her husband owes him. Otherwise, he says he is in state of mind in which

if I don’t pay the interest due tomorrow, [he] will force me to make a graceful exit from this life feet first.

The play ends in mayhem. Smirnov challenges Popova to a duel and then, instead of fighting her, passionately kisses her. At the same time, Luka reenters the scene with weapons to break up the fight.

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The subtitle of Anton Chekhov's The Bear offers a definitive answer to this question. The subtitle of the play is "Farce in One-Act." In a drama (or play), a farce highlights impossible acts, crude and stereotypical characters, ridiculous exaggerations, and horseplay. The time-line of the play adds to the exaggerated movement of the play given much is "packed" into a short period of time.

The action of the play supports Chekhov's defining of it as a farce given the unlikely events which unfold throughout the play. Elena Popova, due to the death of her husband, refuses to leave her house or see anyone until her own death. Ironically, Elena believes that her own faithfulness to this isolation will make up for her husband's lack of faithfulness. Later, Gregorii Stepanovich shows up, while Elena sobs, and demands that she repay a debt. Eventually, the two agree to a duel and Gregorii falls in love with Elena.

With extremely elevated emotions and exaggerated dialogue, the entire play pokes fun at gender roles, love, and "war."

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